December 13

A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.

Proverbs 12:15 (KJV)

 

 

Four years ago, I became a blogger. I’d been researching a case about a college student who’d gone missing in 1953 and I wanted to stake out my territory online. I wanted to attract an audience, but truth be told, I didn’t want to hear from anyone. I’d watched enough Dateline episodes to know that I should be wary of cyber strangers. Every two weeks or so, I’d share a discovery and open up the comments, mostly for the “Wows.” Then, shortly afterward, I’d shut down the comments and move to the next topic. It was a “my-way-or-the-highway” POV. 

 

That changed with Covid. Maybe I was lonesome for people and a little conversation. Plus, I couldn’t travel for my research, so I needed to reexamine old clues through different lenses. The dynamic shifted. I became more open to other people’s outlooks. I took the ideas of strangers more seriously. I kept the comments box open, and I even started accepting advice. More voices brought fresh ideas which led to unexpected discoveries. Readers opened up about their lives as well. They wrote about their first jobs. They discussed addiction issues. They shared embarrassing stories from their childhoods when they were caught telling a lie. 

 

Now the communication in my corner of the blogosphere runs two ways. I’ve been on other websites in which comments are left dangling and people are made to feel as if they’re on the outside looking in. Not here. If a reader has something interesting to say—and nine times out of ten, they really do—they know they will be listened to with respect. Frequently, we’re discouraged from reading online comment sections due to the negativity. For me, the comments have become one of the more compelling parts of my site.

 

I don’t know if I’ll ever solve the mystery of the missing student. And I still practice the rules of internet safety. But this experience has helped me find something that had been missing in me—a willingness to listen and learn from some wise, invisible people with made-up names.

 

 

Jenny Wenger


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