Getting back to Front-Porch vulnerability

I miss the days of front-porch-sitting. 

We didn’t even have a front porch during my childhood, but when I read books like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and others that romanticize the front porch, I miss those days.

Blame it on air-conditioning. Blame it on busy-ness. The fact is, today we rarely see folks sipping lemonade and fanning themselves on their front porch as they chat and wave to passersby. 

I am one of those passersby. When black-eyed Susans smile their sunny faces at me and summer breezes beckon, I hop on my bike and ride. I often pass by friends’ houses, but most dwellings belong to strangers. 

As I ride by, I see closed doors. Shut windows. Privacy fences. And big, beautiful, empty front porches. 

I know nothing of the people that reside behind those doors, yet they are my neighbors. My community. In the front-porch-sitting days, these people would be outside, sipping that lemonade, and waving to me as I rode by. But where are they now? 

Are they hiding inside, afraid to be seen? Fearful of revealing too much of themselves and their families? Apprehensive about the stranger passing by? Perhaps they are unwilling to wave and say “hello” for fear of being judged as weird or too friendly.

I have similar fears when I write. 

Who will see me? Am I revealing too much? Will others think I’m weird? 

The more I write, the more I struggle with how much to say. How much to bare my soul. How much to reveal about my family and the way we operate.

When I began blogging, our family was going through a tough time. I was vulnerable because of the situation. My daughter’s illness was a scary thing to experience; it was also a scary thing to write about. 

Still, I opened up. And the response was overwhelming. People were kind. They were supportive. They wanted to know more, and they had their own stories to relate.

Since then, there have been other vulnerable posts. Stories in which I poured out our weaknesses and struggles. Every time, as I held my cursor over the “publish” button, I paused and thought to myself, “Do I really want to do this?” 

Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone is intimidating. Baring one’s soul is a scary business. 

But every time I’ve hit “publish” and the story flies out the window for the anyone to see, I am met with open arms and loving hearts. If there are any raised eyebrows or judgmental looks (which I assume there are), I do not see them. 

As I continue to share, friends and strangers continue to validate my vulnerability. They expose their own issues. I make new friends and strengthen bonds with old ones. Relationships become deeper and more meaningful.

Our culture has become one of isolation and fear. We build fences to block out the noise of the world, to protect our children, and to keep strangers out. We avoid eye-contact with people. We prefer to close our windows and doors. We keep ourselves hidden. 

I wonder what would happen if more of us would open the windows and stick our necks out. What would happen if we sat on the front porch for all the world to see? 

We might find our fears to be unfounded. Our insecurities met with acceptance. Our vulnerability rewarded with friendship and affirmation. 

So let’s open up the windows. Swing wide the doors. Step outside the gates. 

Let’s sit on the front porch again. 

I’ve got the lemonade ready and waiting.