Measuring Sticks, Insecurity, and Some Conference Advice

Size Platform Measure Worth 2

I begin in the west and fly halfway across the country before I finally arrive for the conference. The driver picks me up at the airport and I’m reunited with my online friend who started her journey this morning in the east.

We chat a mile a minute and look forward to seeing our “smaller” blogger friends and many of our “bigger” blogger friends too.

During the conference I meander through sessions with my “smaller” blogger friends, all the while casually noticing who’s interacting with whom. I watch the “bigger” bloggers interact with their own circles of friends, while I engage with mine—looking them in the eye, listening, and relating.

But I deceive myself, because while I think I’m fully present in each conversation, in reality I’m partly absent. And as the conference presses on, I realize I’m disappointed when my “bigger” blogger friends have not initiated a fuller connection with me.

And it’s the last day of the conference when God convicts me of a cold hard truth.

My disappointment is a symptom of my illness—the virus of insecurity—hovering like a flu.

It has infected me. And I ache with its uncertainty while questions linger…

Do I matter?

Do I fit in?

Do “they” notice me or even want to be my real friend?

That last afternoon I leave the lunch table with my friend Alia, and make my way across the room toward our other roommate Amy—my in-real-life friend and newbie blogger—who has come with me to the conference.

And as we approach, she immediately turns to us, as if our timing is perfect.

“Hey guys! There’s someone I want you to meet.
This is Jennifer, another newbie.
And at lunch I asked her which of the “bigger” bloggers she most wanted to meet here.
And you know who she said?
Jacque Watkins and Alia Joy.
So I told her I could probably hook her up, since you guys are my roommates.”

I startle, like a deer caught in headlights.

Did she actually just say my name with the phrase “bigger” blogger?

Shocked on the inside, I greet Jennifer with a smile, flattered and completely stunned anyone would consider me a “bigger” blogger. She is sweet and gracious—a tea-drinking mama of four. And after our delightful interaction, I’m better for having met her.

As I fly home, reflecting on the conference, the Holy Spirit woos and convicts me again.

During the conference I wasted so much mental time, and internal dialogue, wondering if I’d get to build deeper relationships with  “bigger” bloggers.

While probably there were others there, who would’ve loved to build a deeper relationship with me.

And the recognition of this truth is like medicine for my ill and insecure heart.

Could it be possible everyone thinks of themselves as a “smaller blogger” and is waiting for that “bigger blogger” to initiate a connection?

Could it be that no matter who we are, there will always be someone “bigger”  to look to? That the one we see as a “bigger” blogger has an even “bigger-blogger” person they’d love to be pursued by too?

And could it be, that to someone, somewhere in the world, YOU are the “bigger blogger”?

That there is one someone scanning the room–looking for you—wishing they could meet YOU?

Hoping YOU’D go out of your way to pursue a connection with THEM?

No matter the size of our platform, we are all asking the same questions at our core:

Do I matter?

Do I fit in?

Would they really want to be my friend?

And the real truth is, our worth and purpose and significance is not dependent on whether a “bigger” blogger knows our name or pursues a friendship with us.

And we need the real truth to sink deep into the crevices of our hearts:

We all matter and fit in because we are His.

He chose us.

And He has great things planned for each of us to do.

So what if, instead of finding our validation from the “bigger bloggers” in our lives, we find our soul’s validation in our time spent with Jesus?

Allowing His Word to inform our starving souls of who He is,

And the truth of who we are because of Him…

Chosen.

Beloved.

Redeemed.

The child of God.

We are eternally valuable regardless of the size of our platform. 

And the size of our platform does not measure the worth of our soul. 

[Tweet that]

So when we set foot inside the walls of the Allume conference this October…

What if we become the initiators of connection because our security in Christ compels us to do so with whomever God places in our path?

What if we say hi first? Flash a smile first? Begin the conversation first, as a people who love in His name?

What if we stay fully present with whomever we’re with—refusing to allow our minds to be “noticing” the room?

And what if we make an effort, to not only hang out with our “people,” but to branch out to new circles of beautiful people? So that no one leaves feeling small and alone.

May we remember we are in this together…

Cheering for each other,

Fighting to believe who He says we are,

And really knowing we ARE already enough because of Him.

I can’t wait to see you at Allume!

Will you be there?

 

Jacque Watkins

Lover of heartfelt chats and chai tea lattes, Jacque can’t wait to connect with you. Over a decade ago, in the aftermath of an affair, Jacque was found by God’s mercy and changed by His grace. As a Labor & Delivery RN and mama to five, she's a mercy-lover, podcaster of Mud Stories, champion of second chances, and longs for you to know God loves you for you, and will leave nothing unredeemed in His time. You can connect with Jacque at her blog, or on TwitterFacebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.

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Adoption: A Partnering Opportunity

Slade Adoption Travel

I have been so incredibly blessed by our surrounding family, online and church community. Many of you may know that we are adopting two girls from Ghana, West Africa. We started the process two years ago. I can’t believe it has been that long already! There was one particular part of the process that kept us stuck for 13 months without movement. It was a very long and hard time.

There was much uncertainty looming on whether we would even be able to bring our girls home. Two weeks ago we finally were granted approval in order to move on to the next step, the final step before we fly out and bring them home. God has taught me a few things during our long wait. I learned the meaning of the verse Proverbs 13:12,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I was heart sick. Literally, my heart ached. I didn’t even know that was possible until this season of waiting and longing for our family to be together. My husband and I have struggled through the most difficult season in our marriage.

And each week we talk to the girls, their hope has waned as we have continuously put off when we will be back, because we simply did not know. Now we are just weeks away from bringing our family together but we need your help! We are in the final phase of fundraising so we can travel back and bring them home.

We need just $1,317 to complete our fundraising which will pay for the total of $7,500 for all of our plane tickets. Pure Charity has been such a wonderful partner in this. Once the funds are ready, they go directly to our travel agency. All donations made through Pure Charity are tax deductible.

When you give, you aren’t just giving money. You’re investing in the future of two precious girls who long to be with their family. You’re investing in a brand new life for them, with a hope and a future.

There are no gimmicks here. Money is simply a tool we need to use sometimes to make dreams a reality. This is one of those times. Please partner with us and help us bring them home. Click here to make a donation if you’re reading in email and cannot see the donation widget below.

Christin

Christin has a heart to encourage and equip women in aspects of discipleship, marriage, mothering, writing, blogging, and community. She sees the body of Christ as an important community of encouragement and discipleship and works to foster that around the web. She has been married 13 years and has 7 children ranging in age from 11 down to 3. You can find her encouraging moms at her blog Joyful Mothering, writing some deeper thoughts on life and writing at ChristinSlade.com, and learning more about Google+.

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On Stranger Hospitality

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Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

***

I suppose I’m here as a sort of test case, a run at determining the lengths and depths of hospitality within the Allume community. To the point, I am far from what might be considered the target demographic of Allume, a community which hopes “to minister to the woman, the blogger, the story teller.” More to the point, I am most emphatically not a member of the sorority of womanhood. I am a member of the other sex.

The request to join this community of writing and faith was, I admit, a bit daunting. There were, at last count, twenty writers for the Allume blog, and only one other man (fistbump, Dan King!).   Unafraid of the awkward yes, I decided to jump into this decidedly feminine venue, one with an aesthetic boasting chartreuse, and plum, and frilly hearts. It is true; I come to this community as an outsider.

It is difficult to play the role of the outsider, the differentiated one. We all know this to be true, have all found ourselves on the wrong-track side of money, power, fashion, or sex. And yes, as things go, I suppose I have it easy. A critical analysis of historical exclusion would indicate that being a man in a woman’s conference blog world does not constitute the most dire of “fit” problems.

That being said, it seems, at least to me, that my inclusion at the Allume table (as it were), may stand as a sort of metaphorical reminder. There are strangers among us, those who feel the sting of never quite making it into the inner circle. And perhaps, in an honest moment, you’d admit it–you feel like a stranger too.

Don’t we all have fit problems?

According to dictionary.com, “hospitality,” is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Did you catch that last word? Strangers. The definition begs an interesting question: if the purpose of hospitality is to create a space of invitation, of welcome, why exercise it only among those whom already feel invited and welcomed? Is the fullest expression of hospitality the invitation of close friends and relatives to a dinner party, or is it something broader?

Jesus taught a broader kind of hospitality, one that favored welcome of the outsider. In Matthew 25, Jesus taught of his triumphant return, praised those who extended warm welcome to God. And how did they extend such a welcome? Jesus taught, “[t]ruly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Jesus was the embodiment of stranger-hospitality, went out of his way to break bread with the outcasts, the tax-collectors and sinners. He was the entertainer of the marginalized, the party-thrower for the little people.

Yes, there are strangers among us, and perhaps I serve as the tangible, awkward reminder of that truth. (And don’t worry, I’ll continue to pop in from time to time as an ever present tangible and awkward reminder.)  But as we push forward to Allume 2014, let’s work to create a culture of stranger-hospitality, to craft places of fit for the outsider. Let’s remember that this is the way of Jesus.

Now… could someone toss me a baseball?!?

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Seth Haines is a working stiff who makes his home in the Ozark mountains. He and his wife Amber Haines have four boys and a dog named Lucy. Seth enjoys music, food, fly fishing, and fine sentences. He writes regularly at sethhaines.com, and shares music, art, and quippy thoughts on both Twitter and Facebook.

*Photo by Kulwant Singh, Creative Commons via Flickr.