Decluttering my mind, that is. As much as my house needs it, my mind needs it more. It keeps filling up and things slip out, sometimes lost forever, sometimes through my lips, which can occasionally be awkward and embarrassing and the cause of strife and confusion. So, the blog is here to declutter my brain.
There will be starts and stutters and messes to clean up. Here's the deal: I think of a dozen topics for blog posts every day. I formulate some structure of a piece in my mind with compelling intros and arguments, and I even write most of them down -- on scraps of paper, in journals, in an app on my phone -- but they never make it into completed posts. Who am I kidding? "Completed"? They never make it beyond scratched out phrases and sentences, or links to the quotes or articles that have triggered the musings. But I see them as a treasure trove of freshness and vibrancy and contemplation and inspiration, just waiting to be coaxed into words and prepared for debut.
The problem is that I never get any of it to the stage where I feel I'm ready to reveal. A failure again, as my poor neglected blog home sits empty, waiting for words to fill it. Anxiety builds as I glance from the vacant blog space to the scattered and incomplete mess on my desk. The voices in my head argue:
Why start something if you're not going to finish it? You can't post anything until all this mess is cleaned up!
(Woah, does that sound like my voice speaking to my kids about their cluttered bedrooms, or what?)
Then I might as well close it down, because it'll never be perfectly ready, 'cause it's me.
I'm sure the anxiety stems in part from the fact that, as a professional editor, I am of that annoying breed of people who absolutely freak out if everything isn't perfect at the reveal, whether upon publication of an article or presentation of a meal. I do the same thing when it comes to having people over at my house. I love having house guests. I love cooking for them and enjoying their company and giving of myself as much as I can. But I hate cleaning my house and I'm really bad at it even when I tackle the task. So all of those "We'll have to have you guys out some time" sort-of invites never really materialize into a date on the calendar. Because my house is never ready.
Then I read this post by Myquillyn at www.thenester.com: "Why You've Got to Have Guests When You're House Isn't Perfect".
I learned the hard way that it’s better to invite a friend in than tell them no because you are embarrassed.
Where she goes there, that's what I've been talking about to my daughters for years. How to pick your friends is all about knowing who are the people you can trust with the uglies and the messes and the undones. However, this goes far beyond friends and family. This is about making the stranger feel welcome. With the uglies and messes and where you're uncomfortable and would rather cover up the cat hair on the couch.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
Thankfully, there are many others who have been preaching these passages for a while now among the women's circles out here in the blogosphere, but I especially am convicted by what Rosaria Champagne Butterfield says about the difference, for Christians, between just having friends over and hospitality to strangers. Hospitality is ground zero, she insists, and in an interview with Dennis Rainey, she recalls the impact that the hospitality of Ken and Floy Smith had on her when she was still hostile to Christianity:
Ken didn’t say: “Oh great! We’re going to have the lesbian over for dinner. Let’s be sure to share the gospel as soon as she walks through the door!” Ken cares about the heart. In fact, I found Ken’s business card in one of the books I was looking at for some writing that I’m doing. The business card said: “When you’re ready to talk about God, give me a call.” That’s how Ken was.
Among the millions of things I love about this story of Rosaria's introduction to and friendship with the Smiths is this simple truth: Ken was Ken and Floy was Floy and they didn't prepare a presentation before they opened their home in hospitality to Rosaria. They just opened their home. As Rosaria says in an interview with Tony Reinke for Authors on the Line and posted at Desiring God:
“It does not matter that there’s cat hair on the couch,” she says in the interview. “It does not matter that all you can serve right now is macaroni and cheese or cereal. It absolutely does not matter.”
Distractions out of the way. Being regarded as worthy of attention, the stranger is introduced to the biblical perspective of gospel hospitality. And what Rosaria remembers to this day: "They were willing to walk the long journey to me in Christian compassion."
Contrary to what we think is happening in real gospel hospitality, we are not asking others to come to us. We are going to them in Christian compassion. They may physically and materially be crossing space to journey to and enter our homes, but what if we demonstrate a reaching out to them, serving them, offering sacrificially and beneficially to them, going to them in love and grace and kindness? Isn't that the perfect description of creating a hospitable space -- for all, friends and strangers alike?
So, that's why I'm starting my blog now, before I'm ready, before the corners are swept and the rugs are brushed and the dishes are done. Because if I want to open this space to you, I need to be able to do it while it's a mess. It's not supposed to be all about me. Myquillyn ends her blog post this way:
Hospitality isn’t about me. It’s about you who come into my home. It’s about listening and connecting and encouraging. It’s about rest and peace and fun. And hopefully eating something delicious and drinking iced coffees.
For believers, none of what we do is supposed to be about me. It's about God's glory, which He manages to gather by all kinds of messy means out there. Including messy houses and messy blogs.
May He indeed get all the glory from this blog.
Welcome. May I take your hat?
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.