This little ol’ blog of mine is almost two years old. I’ve learned a ton. Writing has been a joy, a release, and a bold experiment for me. It gives me a fulfillment I didn’t even know I was missing. It’s hard for me to believe after two years that it took me so long to actually start.
But oh, it did.
I’ve had stories in me for as long as I can remember, but the thought of putting my thoughts out there for the whole world to see, well, it terrified me.
It wasn’t until I attended the She Speaks Conference in 2013 that I finally found the courage and determination to start. I haven’t looked back since.
But the hardest part? Publishing that first post.
One of the hardest things about putting myself out there was knowing that I would eventually face criticism. We were warned about it at the conference–that if you’re writing on a public forum, many will applaud you, but there will also be critics.
- There will be people who disagree, sometimes vehemently.
- There will be those who try to discount what you do and what you say.
- There will be trolls.
I’ve learned to handle the criticism better than I thought I would.
But there’s another pesky truth I’ve learned along the way:
If what your writing doesn’t occasionally rub somebody the wrong way, it’s not worth reading.
In other words, if I never offend you, I’m not doing it right.
You can’t please everybody all the time. Some people are going to agree, others won’t. And people might — scratch that, they will — be offended. Some will be angry, some will be hurt. Some will — gasp! — unfollow you.
That is if what you’re saying has any meat to it.
As a people pleaser, I have to admit that’s the hardest part for me. I don’t mind constructive criticism, but to acknowledge that yes, the topics I write about from my heart, the things I say, even the specific words I use — might offend people — well, that’s tough.
I’ve mentioned it here a hundred times before, but I spent 40 years of my life trying to make people like me. For many of those years I pretended to be who I thought other people wanted me to be. I tried to fit in, play the role of “the good girl” and stay far away from trouble. I didn’t speak my mind, didn’t offer strong opinions (even though I had them) because I was afraid of being alienated and ostracized.
And now I have this blog. Where everything I write is my opinion.
I’m continually thankful to you, dear readers, because you actually keep coming back to find out what I have to say. It amazes me on a daily basis.
So if I’ve ever offended you or ticked you off, well, I’m sorry.
But I have to hold on to this truth:
If I never offend you, I’m not doing it right.
The people who change things, the people who stand for something, the people who make a difference. . . well, they tend to be offensive people.
And I for one would be honored to just hang out on the fringes of that crowd.
Over the weekend I posted what I thought was an innocuous meme about FOX News on my personal Facebook page. If you read this blog regularly, you’ve probably picked up enough of my political leanings to know that I’m not a fan of FOX News.
The meme showed up in my newsfeed on a friend’s page and I reposted it because. . . well, it made me laugh. There was no deep, hidden meaning nor was I trying to make a political statement. I just thought it was funny.
I really am that shallow.
The post absolutely blew up, with commentary from people who either love or hate FOX News. A few were honestly offended that I posted and commented about it. I felt a little bad, because truthfully, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I even joked about it, saying I wished my serious posts could get half that much traffic.
So if you are a FOX news lover and I truly, deeply offended you — even by saying in this post that I don’t like FOX news, I’m really sorry.
One of my best friends from college is a devotee of FOX news. She and I don’t see eye to eye on politics in the least, and yet we agree on so much more. Our friendship and our mutual love of Jesus and His gospel is more important than anything politics could throw our way.
Anyway, after some of the criticisms and comments rolled in, my sister jumped in and defended me, saying my character was above reproach.
I love my sister. Don’t we all need somebody who will defend us to the death?
But the truth is, my character is not above reproach.
I’m like everybody else, y’all.
- I’ve got skeletons in my closet and plenty of dirty laundry that I’d never want to see the light of day.
- I tend to be judgmental and sarcastic and I’m often insensitive to the people closest to me.
- I say bad words sometimes and I can be unbelievably selfish.
- Believe it or not, I post dumb stuff on Facebook!
- And sometimes I even stuff food wrappers into the couch cushions and later blame it on the kids. Not lying.
But despite my flaws, I desperately want to promote truth, to speak life, and to proclaim the gospel message of Jesus Christ, and I want to be transparent and authentic in doing so. I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone, but I can’t hide under a bushel basket either.
I have a treasure, a light, good news so amazing that it has to be shared. This treasure, however, is stored in this life and body of mine, a cracked and ordinary jar of clay. I can either hide it or I can show it to you, warts and all.
“Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. . .
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.”
2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7 (MSG, emphasis added)
I don’t want you to think for a minute that I’ve got my act together. I don’t.
And that’s at the core of my message. It’s about freedom. Freedom to be who you are, freedom to make mistakes, freedom to not have it all together, freedom to admit that you’re not in control.
Freedom to let your cracks show.
There is freedom in admitting our weaknesses, in knowing that life is messy and that it’s really okay.
- This is why I write about topics like PTSD, which I hesitantly revealed to you last Friday.
- It’s why I tell you about how I’ve struggled with anger and anxiety.
- It’s the reason I admit to you my own hypocrisy, my hangups, my mistakes.
If I never show you who I am, if I never give you glimpses of the real me, then how could you trust anything I have to say?
The catch, though, is that when I show you who I really am, sometimes you’re going to be offended. Or annoyed. Or bored. Or angry. Or upset.
Hard as it is for me, I want you to know I’m okay with that if you are.
I want you to know how tired I am of Christians who pretend like life is all round corners and roses, tied up with a pretty bow. Because in reality, life is jagged and bumpy and thorny.
MY life is that way. And from the feedback you give me, your life is pretty prickly at times, too.
Maybe, just maybe, by talking about the hard things and stirring the pot a little, we can all understand each other a little better.
That’s my hope anyway.
As for my life, I’m doing the best I can.
But if I don’t ever offend you, well, I’m not doing it right.