BlogPost: Writing to Release the Pressure

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Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”

~Isaac Asimov

Life happens. It’s true! Even when I think it won’t, shouldn’t, or couldn’t, it just does. When I want to press the pause button, I can’t find one. Life just keeps on happening. And, honestly, sometimes I feel like it gets in the way of the things I want (or need) to do. One of those things is writing.

Putting on paper, or trying to put on paper, the jumble of thoughts and words that constantly rip through my mind has always been a cathartic experience for me. It’s been something like slowly releasing the metal latches on a pressure cooker—the pressure screams out with every latch loosened. If I go slow enough and allow enough time, I can even open the lid to see what’s still in there. But then, life gets in the way and writing time gets pushed to the back burners, again. Before long, it’s hard to make sense of the thoughts bouncing around in my brain like Superballs let loose in a cylinder. Life itself becomes a jumbled mess. The pressure builds. The tightly locked lid feels like it’s going to exceed it’s tolerance, and the highly compressed mess begins to break loose in odd, awkward, and sometimes embarrassing ways.

Writing, public or private, is my pressure valve—journaling, blogging, or even sermon writing. I started this blog a number of years ago and have had a few variations along the way. “FaithAndCoffee” has stuck the longest. Lazy? Maybe. I’m jealous and somewhat baffled by friends like Rocky Supinger and Carol Howard Merritt who have found time to blog and write regularly while also serving in full time ministry. I really don’t know how they do it!

As some know, I have spent the last two years working toward a Doctor of Ministry degree. It’s a practical degree for pastors, rather than an academic degree like a PhD. The focus is on the practice of ministry. In my case, I’m focusing on the intersection and parallels of Eucharistic theology and social ethics (How do our Eucharistic practices as Christians inform or shape our social ethics? Or do they?). Unfortunately, the Doctor of Ministry’s shortened name is D.Min.—say it a few times out loud and remember that it’s for pastors, you’ll understand.

Through a number of classes (only two more to go!) and now fully immersed in my thesis project, words and thoughts have been in over-abundant supply. The pressure is building. The Superballs are flying at full speed (pick your metaphor). My only outlet has been writing papers for class, and trying to articulate my project over and over and over again. It’s helped, but it’s not enough. As someone who teeters between introvert and extrovert on the Myers Briggs personality inventory, I realize it is interacting with others around the jumbled mess in my head that gives me the release I need.

I do preach nearly every week, which involves organizing and writing my thoughts. That helps. But rarely is it interactive. On occasion I receive a response from someone, but it’s rare. I also write short messages to the congregation in our weekly email announcements and monthly newsletters. But, again, it’s usually unidirectional and often related to specific goings-ons around the church.

So, upon the suggestion of a psychologist friend of mine, I’m trying to foray back into the blogging world (for the umpteenth time) to help me make sense of chaos in my mind, release some pressure, and, hopefully, enjoy some feedback from anyone who might actually read the more mundane and regular things (read: non-controversial things) I write.

For now, I hope to use this space as a forum for my thesis project, since that is consuming much of my brain space. I hope anyone reading this might be willing to come with me on this ride, when you can. If not, it’s ok. I think even just the practice of writing again, regularly, might help me slowly shift into a more harmonious relationship with this life that keeps happening. Maybe then I can stop fighting it and simply enjoy the ride.

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