Most of the time, for me, the idea for a blog post comes from a conversation I have with myself that continues over a period of a few days. As soon as I realize the topic is developing into a potential post, I open a draft in Weebly and begin dumping into it all the thoughts, quotes, article links, etc., that have crossed my mind or my path that may contribute to a final post. Some do get to the final, and some don't. And some drafts make it to the blog. But these 16 haven't.
They are a testament to how often my self-talk is influenced less by the truth of God's word and more by hypocritical pretense. Behind the mask is a feverish, ravenous desire to display my own cleverness and magnanimity at the expense of others' broken or sin-inflicted souls.
In this file you'll find a piece on kindness that begins with an anecdote that demonstrates my ability to show kindness in even the most challenging circumstances -- even to he/she-who-will-go-unmentioned-but-you-know-who. And there's a treatise on how every woman ought to love her husband the way I love mine. And the one that ponders why I am the only one who gets how teens feel when they are ignored at church and how I've trained my kids to be the ones to show grace in those situations. During the election clamor, people who presumed to know whether fellow professing believers really were Christian based upon their voting intentions really got slammed for being so judgmental and self-righteous. Perhaps most representative of the file is the piece I have tentatively titled "A Photoshopped Life" about how blessed I am to have gotten over the need to modify how my life appears in order to gain approval from others.
Now you know why they're still drafts. What you may wonder is why they're still drafts and not trash. The trash bin is too good a demise for these files; they are waiting for the gallows.
In an earlier article, I share a maxim of my mother's though I imagine it is not unique to her: "Don't talk about yourself so much." She would point out how often we her children would use first person pronouns in our conversations. Her goal was not for us to perform grammatical gymnastics in order to avoid using "I", "me", "my". (e.g., "There may be other good students out there but probably none as smart as your second child so it's a mystery why your second child didn't win the 'most academic' award.") What she was trying to do was highlight for us how our sin nature compelled us to make ourselves the focus of our lives, and that was reflected in our speech, and how our focus on others would manifest in more use of second person pronouns.
In studying through Esther right now, I can't help but wonder if Haman's mother had ever given him the same advice. Surely not, when very nearly every word that is recorded as his in the whole account is part of his campaign to raise himself up and put others down -- particularly his mortal enemy, Mordecai the Jew. To us in the position of the omniscient third person narrator, the whole scenario is almost comical. In a rage he determines he will exact his revenge on Mordecai by having him hung on a gallows -- that Haman himself builds -- gallows that at fifty feet high was sure to get the attention of the whole city. Just as he arrives to make his case to the king and ask for Mordecai to be turned over to him, the king commandeers the conversation and asks him instead how a man who deserves the highest honors in the land ought to be rewarded.
In Haman's mind, only one man fits that description, and so he describes an elaborate event in which the honoree is adorned with the king's attire and paraded around the town on the king's greatest steed. (Esther 5:9-6:11)
Shakespeare coined a delicious phrase for what is happening here. In the play about the Danish prince, the Bard puts these words in the Hamlet's mouth, regarding his plot to bring down his nemesis, the "engineer" of the political intrigue in Denmark, Polonius:
They must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
For ’tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard.
In Elizabethan times, the petard was an explosive weapon of war -- essentially a small bomb -- that was used to break down the gates of an enemy's stronghold. Occasionally, a malfunction might cause the "engineer" to be hoisted by the mistimed or misdirected explosion of the petard. Surely we've seen this in any late night viewing of the slapstick routines of Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis, the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges.
Picture it: Big explosion . . . wrong enemy's stronghold . . . but providentially, it's the right enemy's stronghold.
Cue Pogo's solemnly intoned, "We've met the enemy, and he is us."
But the just desserts that Haman gets are no mere device of a clever playwright or comedy writer. Haman's fuming and furious hatred of Mordecai was not simply a character flaw, but a reminder of our natural rebellion against heaven and our eternal condition "were it not for the grace of God". His view of himself as the master of intrigue and power, fueling his goal to execute Mordecai's entire people group, is a picture of our narcissistic determination to manipulate life's details to suit our ends.
When Queen Esther exposes Haman's plot before the king, it just so happens there was a gallows already built.
Those 16 drafts are my gallows standing ready. They are my petard filled with gunpowder. I am the careless engineer with a cleverly crafted article that, if published, will explode and hoist me flailing into the air. But not only me. If it were only me, I might laugh at myself and my foolishness, dust myself off, and hope to learn from the lesson. Sadly, my subtle self-aggrandizement will also injure others with the flying shrapnel of passive-aggressive digs and a shaming tone. I afflict God's people, I stain the witness of Christ, and in so doing, I grieve God's spirit.
Or I can put those gallows to a different use.
Gallows 16; Drafts 0
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
© lauraenglandmiller, #thereyougothinkingagain, Laura E Miller
2015-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of written material and images without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to #thereyougothinkingagain, lauraenglandmiller, or Laura E Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.