I find it so interesting that the girls' #1 reason for swiping left, in dating-app terms, is not because the suggested guy is too old, not old enough, too smart, not smart enough, not spiritual enough, not rich enough, not handsome enough, or anything like that.
It’s an emphatic, “He doesn’t DO anything!”
If you ask them to elaborate: He stays in his home community, he’s not involved in anything unselfish, he spends his money on things like pickup trucks and golf, and, again, “He’s just not DOING anything!”
I sometimes say, “But he’s NICE. Nice ought to count for something!” because I am all about guys who will stick with you and change diapers and dump barf buckets and tell you your post-baby shape is beautiful.
I don’t change their minds.
All right, so DOING is important.
But I would like to say that there is another side to DOING, a side that I see from my end of the universe, where I’d say Paul and I do plenty of doing.
Doing is dangerous.
Not the fun sort of doing or dangerous like hanging your toes over the edge of a cliff in the Andes while the mists gather in the valley far below and then posting a great shot of this on Instagram.
I know young women who are all enraptured with this sort of dangerous doing, like this has to be a REAL MAN, out there hiking the Andes and taking the rickety puffing train through the peasant villages to Antofagasta and taking more Instagram shots, of the burro with the little girl in the long skirt on its back.
I’m talking the sort of danger where you make a decision and do something that seems best at the moment, because that is your calling as a mom or teacher or nurse or mayor, and it needs to be done, and the crowd turns to you to make it happen. And then afterwards everyone else looking on gets to analyze and criticize and discuss.
It would be so much safer to not do anything. You would fly below the radar. They would all be out there, not noticing you, and talking about someone else.
I write, now and then. I hear in roundabout ways that certain people just don’t GET why someone would do such a thing.
Well, sometimes I don't know either. Certainly not for the money, I hope they know that.
If they asked me, I’d say that if you feel that thumb in your back, gently or sharply nudging, you eventually write. If you try to be silent and the words start to ricochet around your skull like a gallon of unshelled walnuts in the dryer, then you start writing again. That’s just how it works, and those who don’t Get It most likely never will.
But it’s so dreadfully dangerous. I mean, putting the printed word out there for the world to see and freely criticize if they choose. Insane.
Most of the time I don't hear from readers, but if I do it’s nice words like, "Enjoyed your column."
Except when it's not.
Recently I got a letter from someone in what must be a very conservative Mennonite church. They had found my book in the church library, and had some concerns, including the fact that I no longer dress as Plain as I once did, and also I said on the cover that I’m a minister’s wife, but there was nothing in the book about my husband’s ministry.
Worst, the book had caused such Concern that someone had gone through it and crossed out all the offensive passages before they put it in the church library.
[Deep breath, Mrs. Smucker. Let it go.]
I wrote back and said I don’t want to cause any offense or lead your children astray so please Please PLEASE take the book out of your church library and I will buy it back!
[How to tell if a Mennonite is serious about making amends: they are willing to lose money.]
Emily said I should tell this person that maybe the librarian had Sharpied out the passages about Paul’s ministry and that’s why they couldn’t find them.
I had some words with myself and with the Lord, then, about this calling of writing and publishing, which I seem to have been led to, by natural bents and circumstances, but which is just the most exposed, public, ridiculous, and perilous calling, far worse than Andean cliff-climbing.
It doesn’t seem fair [whined Mrs. Smucker] that the ones who aren’t taking any risks get to do all the criticizing and judging and grading and analyzing.
I had been thinking a lot about this and then Asher Witmer posted about it on his blog, specifically about leadership and its call to do what you feel called to do. You can go read it here.
His words resonated with me, because if I face the dangers of Doing as a writer, Paul faces astronomically more as a principal, employer, and pastor.
It would be a whole lot easier for both of us to withdraw, retreat, and be silent. To stay home and make quilts and watch Beaver games and take up woodworking and have quiet discussions about whether or not to remodel the bathroom next year.
It sounds tempting. We wouldn’t get concerned letters or phone calls, our decisions wouldn't affect others, and our mistakes would all be private and contained.
Sometimes Doing just doesn’t seem to be worth the risks.
Unless you’re a young man trying to pursue our daughters.