2016, what a doozy.
The past year has been full of all manner of ups and downs, for many of us individually as well as for groups of people around the nation and the world.
My personal life and professional life were stretched beyond what they’d endured before. And like any worthy challenge, the conflict between how things were pushes up against how they could be. That territory of rethinking and reshaping one’s perspective provides plenty to write about and work through.
The biggest writing milestone of 2016 was finishing the 7th draft of my book, The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices. And over 23 days in December, with the help of 165 fine patrons, we raised $9,175 to fund the publishing of my book. I’m grateful to be at this place in the process, and all signals point to an official book release around March 2017. [Want to be the first to know when it’s available on Amazon and Kindle? Fill out this form and I’ll keep you posted.]
As we close out the year, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the new writings I’ve published online in 2016. Take a look:
Articles I Published Around the Internet in 2016
Even years before the Civil Rights Movement, W.E.B. Du Bois declared “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Hip-hop outfit Macklemore and Ryan Lewis address it in their own way. When we all wrestle with difficult, uncomfortable, longstanding issues, we might actually find the ability to see beyond ourselves and care about others.
Is Jesus just a story? If we’re honest, some of us live like that’s true. The truth is often more complex than we like to admit—especially when the truth is a living, breathing, relating person.
“Are Muslim Refugees Really a Threat to American Christianity?” for RELEVANT Magazine
This year watched an increase in the politicization of refugees, immigrants, and people groups on the margins of society. In several conversations with friends and family—and the social media flurry that cites more opinions than facts and faith—I’ve come across more Christians resistant and even vitriolic toward Muslims in particular—whether Muslims of the moderate majority or radically violent minority. It reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in The Chronicles of Narnia.
One of the powers of fiction is in subversively teaching the lesson and driving home the point before we ever realize we’re being preached at.
“Don’t Forget This When Conflict Erupts in Your Marriage” for Madly In Love
No relationship is immune to conflict—marriage especially. It’s inevitable that we’ll have reasons to be mad at each other because we always fail each other in some way. The question then changes from “how can we avoid conflict?” to “how can we get through this conflict?”
“What Evangelical Christians Need to Learn About Marijuana” for The Huffington Post
Pot is more popular than ever, and few groups are as vocally opposed to weed as evangelical Christians. With change on the horizon, the question for many becomes, “If I smoke weed, will I get in trouble with my family, my job, or law enforcement?” And for Christians, “Is it a sin to smoke weed?”
Your mind tells you one thing. Your heart tells you the opposite. Which one is right? How do you decide which to follow? You must be self-aware to navigate your life well.
What do you remember about your past? Where do you look to find meaning for your life? Those aren’t two random questions. They’re related. What is a “redemptive life story,” and why is it so powerful for your mind?
When I was younger, I realized there was something different about the way I approached social life. The problem wasn’t that I was an introvert and loved solitude. The problem was that I didn’t realize the difference between isolation and solitude.
Writers are in top 15% for psychopathology? Great. But there’s good news: Writers are also high in measures of psychological health. So we can be really healthy, or really unhealthy. Sounds about right.
“Why Introverts Would Rather Avoid Church” for The Huffington Post
Many aspects of Western culture operate with a bias toward extroverts, especially much of evangelical Christianity. Here’s why we need to talk about it—without getting stuck in the labels.
“The Ministry of Losing Friends: A Millennial Tale” for Unprofessional Christianity
Should the church give up on Millennials? What can be done to win them back into church community? What if we reframed the questions?
“The Secret I Learned From A Homeless Woman In San Francisco’s Worst Neighborhood” for The Huffington Post
A few years ago, I took a trip to San Francisco that changed my life. We thought we could do something good for the city, but maybe it would do something better for us.
It would’ve been different if we were actually dating and using the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” but we hadn’t gotten there yet. And I was glad we hadn’t, because I was convinced we needed to end it.
Are there some decisions that require you to change or end the friendship when you don’t agree? That’s a question I’ve wrestled with, over and over. (Taken from my book, The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices.)
Where some may be inclined to use terms like “closed-minded conservative” or “liberal heretic,” Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast digs deeper in exploration of a “generous orthodoxy.”
“Changing the World with Your Grief: Prophetic lament as the beginning of social activism” for Redeemed For More
There is no mistaking our world is full of things gone wrong. You will not solve the world’s ills. But does that stop you from doing anything at all?
“5 Essential Books for Creative Artists, Makers, and Writers Fighting Distractions in the Digital Age” for Upwrite Magazine
Just a few more perfectly-lit photos to get a couple more likes. Hustle to write or share more so people know I’m “hip” with the trends. We’re all so busy creating and consuming content that we forget what’s required for sustainable creativity and inspiration.
“Sometimes, You Need to Embrace Conflict” for RELEVANT Magazine
Conflict is inevitable—whether in our relationships, trying to find a job, hoping to know God’s will, or any number of struggles that burn away at the edges of our sanity. There’s a hidden payoff if we learn to endure it and learn from it.
Then I gave a radio interview on the book’s themes of taking risks, making big changes, growing up, and embracing the variables in your life.
“Is It Worth It To Wait on God’s Timing?” for ShareFaith magazine
Waiting on something feels like the highway to depression and disillusionment. I didn’t realize that until it was too late.
“Marriage Isn’t the End Goal; Why Do We Treat It Like One?” for RELEVANT Magazine
Marriage isn’t a goal to be accomplished—so why do we treat it like one? Here’s what it’s actually about, as learned by experience and piecing together the advice of far more experienced couples.
Believe in Christmas Miracles? Well, we just saw one. On Christmas Eve, we completed funding the publishing of my book.
- What was your favorite article in 2016—whether from this list or another writer? Share in the comments below.
- Coming up next: Books I Read in 2016.
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