You will never guess the reason I first started writing.
I had been going through what I felt at the time was a gut wrenching, demoralizing personal religious experience. I was discovering that not everything I had been told or believed to be true, was in fact true. It felt like my world was falling apart. And it hurt.
In the healing process I read a book in which the author had experienced something similar. And he wrote a book about it. I felt like he knew me. His words were so beautiful to my ears and to my heart, I wanted to be like him.
As I researched him more, I decided I not only wanted to be like him, I wanted to live like him. The book that helped me so much sold more than one million copies. It was a best seller. And he lived the kind life a best-selling author lives.
He was famous. He lived life by his own rules. He woke up every morning when he wanted to wake up. He went to bed when he wanted. His job consisted of sharing his thoughts and talking about what he wrote. At the end of his speeches, people would stand and applaud.
Who wouldn’t want to live life this way?
I was frustrated with my life and I saw someone with what I believed to be a better, easier one than mine. I started writing because I wanted to be famous. I started writing because I wanted to sell a lot of books. I started writing because I wanted freedom to live life the way I wanted to live.
And this is why I am quitting.
What didn’t happen
When I started writing, my initial goal was to write a book. I sat down and tried to pen a few chapters, but it was much harder than I anticipated. I quickly grew frustrated.
I had also started reading a blog in which the person took what turned out to be a popular blog and turned it into a popular book. If he could do it, then so could I. My new idea was to start a blog, write on a regular basis, and then eventually the blog would turn into the book I dreamed about.
That was four years ago in November.
I was dreaming big, and my dream was that one day people would be sitting around coffee shops all over the country discussing how amazing my book was, and more importantly how amazing I am.
But none of that happened. And I am grateful it didn’t. Because it isn’t a better story.
By many standards, you could say my blog venture has been a success. As of this morning there are 1,485 people who subscribe to what I write. Since starting this specific blog on January 1, 2012, I have had 135,000 people visit my website from 203 different countries, almost every country in the world.
The numbers aren’t startling. I wouldn’t call them viral, but for those of you who have ever written a blog, you understand that this is no small thing.
What did happen
At some point my writing transitioned from writing about my personal experience to that of writing about living a better story. Because of writing I was beginning to choose a different life for myself. And through everything new that I was experiencing, I was beginning to see that there was a better way to live than what most of us settle for.
I didn’t just believe it but I started actually living it. It started with mission trips. And then eventually adoption.
Despite my early resistance, my wife and I decided to adopt a child.
One turned into two.
And then despite two incredibly hard years of life with 6 kids, two turned into 3.
Four biological kids turned into seven kids total. A white minivan turned into a 12 passenger megavan. A private school, suburban life, turned into public schools and English language classes and hospital visits and surgery and even cancer.
I haven’t even told you everything. Some of the story can’t be told. Some of it is too hard. There are parts of it you can’t understand.
What must happen
Over time I have discovered that there is only one thing that truly matters in life. And that is love.
Not the kind of love we dream about. Not the kind where somebody else makes us feel special. Not the kind where we lay in our lover’s arms, forever happy. Not the kind where somebody else is perfect, and because of their perfection we want them.
But the kind of love where we lose everything for the good of another person. The kind of love where we let go of ourselves and what we want and our dreams and desires. The kind of love where we fall to the background. The kind of love where we experience rejection and keep loving. The kind of love that leads to the kind of life none of us want to live.
One of the reasons my blog has been “successful” is that I have been disciplined about writing regularly. If nothing else, I am good at making myself get up early and good about making self-imposed deadlines. And it turns out giving people something new to read 2-3 times a week works. (For those of you who still think building a platform is a worthwhile endeavor, add this to one of your key ingredients.)
But my story has taken over. There is more than I can do. And what I am doing I don’t do well.
As I have said repeatedly, my hands are so full, that most of what need to be done has spilled over the edge of my cupped hands and onto the floor around my feet.
And in order to be and do what I really want to do, I have to let go.
The last several months have been hard. And I have been tired. Plus I added an exercise routine to my busy life. And inevitably my writing has not been regular. Gradually I have backed off. Gradually I have let go of getting up early. Gradually I have stopped showing up.
I didn’t plan this, it just happened. And I am glad it did because I have learned something important. It is okay to stop.
Seth Godin always tells us about the value of becoming indispensable. And his litmus test as to whether or not you have achieved indispensability is what happens when you don’t show up.
I stopped showing up to this website, and nobody has noticed. Not my friends. Not my family. Not my internet acquaintances. Not my subscribers.
And I’m okay with that. in fact it has helped me come full circle with my own journey. It has helped me come to terms with my original reasons to even start writing. I wanted something stupid, and thank God I didn’t get it. Because it wasn’t worth getting.
And let’s be honest. How many of you have actually changed your story because of something you have read here?
What is next?
I have some really big, really fun, really important things developing my life. My own story is still being told. And I am excited. I am amazed by the opportunities I have in front of me.
I have my family. I have my wife and 7 kids. I have 3 teenage boys who are growing into adults. College is right around the corner.
And I have learned more about love by simply living this life than I ever would have by writing about or reading about.
I have one final suggestion for you.
Stop living your life through what you read or what is happening on Facebook or Instagram. Stop talking about being brave and pretending that moving to a city 3 hours away is an act of courage. Stop limiting your life to what you already know.
Go out there and live. Do something that scares you to death. Travel. Meet new people. Explore the world. Explore life. Question everything.
Find a purpose that matters more than your own life. Give everything you can to others. Let go of all the things you are trying to protect.
Life a life of love.