At the turn of the century when blogs first emerged, I wrote uninhibited. I composed countless essays, articles, critiques of politics, culture and trends in theology. I cared less whose feelings I might hurt, whom I might offend. Blogging seemed far less social then, I suppose, because I wrote chiefly for me. I hosted my site on my hardware in my home. Readers were mere anonymous hits. I wrote what pleased me, blogging with near reckless abandon. If people read or shared my stuff, I didn’t much know unless they emailed me or left a comment. There was no such thing as a ‘like’ button to be clicked or ignored.

Uninhibited, I wrote with far too little love for my readers, professional peers and online neighbors, nor the public names I dared name, shame or blame. I hadn’t the sense to consider they were flesh and blood people like me. I’d like to think most of what I wrote was accurate and true, to the best of my ability and study. Still, I often wasn’t kind, nor necessarily constructive. It’s far, far easier to tear down than to build up. Edgy at times and provocative, perhaps. I loved ideas back then, but not people so much.

Hard to think that was 20 years ago. Of course, I was in my 30s then–first beginning to feel confident I actually knew knowledge and thought thoughts worthy of the written word. For every serious writer, those feelings wax and wane–but mine persisted. For better or worse, so does my writing.

This blog was never intended much to serve me. I made it hoping to support others–in particular this congregation of redeemed people whom I tend. I know many beyond the flock visit here, listen in, read along and learn with us. But this blog possesses purpose for a specific people, whose names I know well but would never name here, their faces ever vivid in my mind’s eye, folks whose joys and sorrows I gladly share but privately with them. Here I write with constant prayers that they might be built up–never torn down.

My first year in my 50s now stands complete. The year of our Lord 2018 was a good year, though tough. Much happened in the course of my year’s life, most notably my Dad died in faith and was buried in hope of the resurrection to eternal life. I’ve not written about him, about that, not here or at all. Indeed, I write quite little just for myself. I kind of miss that. Perhaps I had ought to do that, again. Today, I have.

Welcome to “Casual Friday,” or whatever this is. I don’t promise any pure, uninhibited “Jeff” here. Such self-indulgent recklessness can shame the name of my Lord and do injury to the persons He redeemed. I won’t abandon my high regard for my readers while I write. In 20 years of blogging, I’ve learned better to love real human people at least as much as ideas, most often more. I learned better to love them while they’re alive now right in their complicated feelings, miserable failures, with their ugly faults–because that alone is love, the love of Christ that by grace forgives all that, heals and builds us up, steadfast with mercy enduring forever.

But on ‘Casual Friday’ or whatever this is, I reckon I’m going to write some stuff just for Jeff. I’ll stand here, let myself ponder some of our complex humanity and savor those complicated feelings we endure. Don’t expect an exhibitionist gushing of the heart, but a lovingly hibited me inhabiting this space as me, here with you.

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