For those of us who live tentatively.

I have friends who read a lot. They set goals. They keep lists. They track their reading online.

A couple weeks ago, I read a bunch of books. I was going to put them on my online reading list. But then I started thinking.

“Are these the right kind of books to list?” I thought. “Are they scholarly enough? What will people think if they see I’m reading a bunch of books about long distance running, longer than marathons? Will they think I should be spending my time on theology books? Or books about church or God or spiritual formation? And will they think I’m just padding my list?”

I returned them to the library, read but unlisted.

reading a paper bookAs I started writing, I thought, “Maybe I should list them in this post. People might look at them. Someone might buy one or two, and then I would get a few cents from the affiliate link. But then will people think I’m selling out, or that I’m writing simply to sell rather than writing to be helpful?”

So I left the books unnamed in this post.

“You, of course,” as I nod to the person standing in the front row of readers, “You are confused by what I’m saying. You think, ‘Jon, don’t worry about what people think. You are overthinking this process, you are showing a lack of maturity.'”

I know.

“But you understand,” I say to the person sitting at the back of the room, where I usually sit. “You think three times before you like posts because you are afraid of what people will think when they see what you like, right?”

You nod.

“May I tell you what came to mind as I thought about you and me and our fear for our reputation? I thought of the words that Paul heard from God: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ What if that’s true for us, too? That in our moments of paralysis as we balance the competing expectations in our hearts and heads and multiple groups of friends, we stopped. And we breathed. And in that moment we said, ‘God, here’s my weakness. Grant me your power.'”

And then simply lived simply.

2 thoughts on “For those of us who live tentatively.

    1. Jon Swanson

      Bill, thank you. This means a lot. Jon

      +++ Jon Swanson Helping people and organizations find sense at urgent and important times. Hospital Chaplain Resource Consultant for churches Research Consultant for organizations Adjunct professor and writer at



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