By: Matt Rennels
This is my first blog since 2016. Surprising, since prior to 2016 I was typing out and publishing all of my thoughts.
Embarrassing, since in March 2016 I held a course called “How to Start a Blog and Keep It Going.” I’d done it consistently for four whole years, which is like 47 in blog years.
However, after I stood before that class and told them how to stand out ahead of the pack and be that rare blogger that actually keeps blogging, I stopped. I published maybe one more post. Why? I was going through a divorce. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I guess I needed to step away and catch my breath, grieve, and come to terms with everything.
When the divorce first struck I’d just moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In order for God’s love to overpower my misery, I filled my calendar with church activities and other volunteer efforts, one of which was to be a mentor for youth. Our orientation leader prepped us: “These kids love their mentors. You guys will be like rock stars. They will stop you to hug your leg when they see you in the school hallway, and your kid will beam with pride when he is next to you.”
The orientation leader also said the children we would serve were typically the ones who sat alone at lunch, and those in need of a friend.
My kid defied the expectations that were set. He was not quiet or disadvantaged, at least not in the services I was providing. When we walked through the hallways no one other kids hugged my legs, probably because they were all giving my kid high fives. He took me out to the playground and promptly ran away to go play kickball, soccer, Wiffle ball, leaving me to aimlessly mill around.
He was the most athletic kid on the playground, and also the most popular. It turned out he had poor grades so the school wanted me to spend time with him in the library. Coaxing didn’t work so then I essentially dragged him there. I tried asking about his life, and we flipped through a couple of books, or I did while he pouted and asked when we would go back outside. He just sunk his shoulders and dropped his head, and it felt like I was pointing at his plate, nudging him towards his broccoli while all he wanted was the brownie.
It wasn’t long before he explained to the program director that he didn’t think he wanted a mentor after all. He said some nice things about me, though. “It’s not you, it’s me.”
It seemed to be a dead end when I desperately needed a path to take. But in all reality, God was only making it clear that the timing wasn’t right. And He told me the same about the blog. I needed to grieve, not give, not then. I needed to give it a break. And I couldn’t be happier about my choice.
Here we are four years later. My wounds have healed, and I am happily remarried.
My friend George Wood has asked me to join him on his mission to get out a message of hope for the Sober Truth Project, and that’s why I am dipping my toe back into this water. Am I ready? Maybe not entirely, but I think so. And that’s why the timing is probably perfect, since I am at least a little bit conflicted. This is when spirit wrestles with flesh, and wisdom intercedes with desire.
My break also gave me perspective and helped cleared my vision. I have now pinpointed the friendly emotions and the classroom bully. I’ve learned to better discern which tugs at my heart will only cost me and have no real payoff. I had needed time away to understand this, and possibly wouldn’t have been able to if it weren’t for my predicament.
And now the course looks different. Blogging has changed. The Internet keeps evolving. But the thing that remains is that I have an important message to share, one of hope amidst an understanding of grief. I want to share this message with you. Please click Subscribe. Come back often. Let’s discuss mental health, God, and humanity.