I don’t have time for negative energy now or ever. You know the kind of energy you devote to either responding to someone who disagrees with you or to worrying over the troll lurking in the combox after a post. Then there’s your own personal negative energy that’s like a force field around you, deflecting all the happiness that’s all around you every day, but you’re just too wrapped up in your grey storm cloud to see it. (As an aside, I loved how Elizabeth Foss, in her typically honest and eloquent way, recently wrote about not blogging about yucky stuff and how her archives prove just how lovely so many of her days have been.)
I used to only write for secular publications. In recent years, I frequently write for Catholic markets. I feel very fulfilled writing about what I’m (trying) to live. But I also feel conflicted, especially when other Christians don’t agree with me. I naively assumed I’d mostly be preaching to the choir. It’s been difficult for me to see Christians not acting like Christians. Once there was even a comment in response to some of the vitriol seeping in the comments after an article I wrote that simply said this is why I’m thankful to be an atheist. Truly, truly sad. They’ll know we are Christians – for better or worse – by our blog or by the comments we leave after a post or an article we don’t agree with. Something to always keep in mind. (Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary wrote the article “Google and Ye Shall Find” about the role the Internet plays in evangelization – definitely worth the read.)
I also sometimes feel insecure putting something as personal as my faith or my marriage or how I approach motherhood out there on the dissection table for people to pick apart. This is likely due to my own spiritual (and perhaps age-wise) immaturity. And also my vanity. I care way too much about what others think. Sometimes I simply can’t understand why others don’t embrace my world view (very vain of me. I know, I know.). I take things too personally. I don’t particularly like to play with fire, but something (the Holy Spirit perhaps?) keeps handing me the matches and so I end up writing about controversial things (even when I don’t realize they’re controversial until after I’m faced with a deluge of comments questioning my logic or worse, my faith).
(Before I go any further, I’m not talking about this blog. This is, for the most part, a safe haven for me, although I have considered closing comments. My root sins are pride and vanity. But I have no time to pander to either defects in my personality – even when the comments are mostly all positive.)
I don’t ever want to come off as sanctimonious but sometimes despite my best intentions (or perhaps my own personal blindness to how my pride sneaks its way into my writing) people are offended by what I’ve written. That hurts. Of course, when the feedback is positive, my heart soars (quite possibly a little too high). Funny thing is when I did write for secular markets, I never received anything but kudos. It’s only been since I’ve been writing for a Christian audience that I’ve had to take the brunt of some pretty harsh words (and even a few hate emails).
I don’t like to receive dissenting (or hateful) emails. I’m a people-pleaser (back to my vanity again), but I have to keep reminding myself that I need to be a God-pleaser first.
Am I suggesting everything I write and put out there pleases God? Absolutely not. In fact, I wish the Holy Spirit would make it a little more obvious on what it is exactly that I’m supposed to write. And sometimes others’ dissenting opinions, when revealed with charity, encourage me to look at things differently or to see that maybe I was being a bit obtuse or prideful or holier-than-thou.
Then there are times (and I realize I’m being really vague here about mentioning specifics; again, it comes down to energy – energy I don’ have to devote to spelling out too many details) when I’m reminded that maybe this is why God started nagging me so long ago to broach Christian markets (I resisted for a long, long time). God wanted me to step out of my comfort zone. What’s easier isn’t always better for him, my family, or my soul.
I recently told my mom how I’d been thinking of abandoning writing about tough topics. I was growing weary of all of the controversy I seemed to incite with every word I put out there (again not on this blog but in other outlets). Yet, as I was thinking aloud to my patiently listening mom, I realized that maybe when I was, for example, pulled from the cozy world of writing about why I love my babies so much to sharing about why I parent my babies a certain way or why I try to be open to God’s plan for babies (whom I most certainly love but who do require a whole lot of graces to nurture) is when I was truly answering Christ’s call to fearless evangelization.
“Christ was the most controversial person of all time,” my mom reminded me when I took a breath during my lengthy “coming-to-Jesus” monologue.
Mom was right again.
While I still don’t have time to be sucked into responding to any negative energy that comes my way (either in myself or from others), I have to keep answering God’s call. Of course, right now I have an inkling his call is to “slack off” on some of my writing endeavors and be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children.
In all areas of my life, whether I’m worried about the nasty look someone shoots at my aria-singing toddler and me during Mass or about an email from someone who didn’t like what I had to say about something, I must crucify my vanity and pride on the cross.
I’ll always have a deep yearning to be loved – this desire is a part of the human condition – but I don’t need this love to come in the form of everyone supporting everything I write or even in the kind comments so many readers leave on this blog. That love is already there. From God. When it’s all said and done (and don’t worry: this rambling post is almost all said and done), if I’m truly doing God’s will, then I don’t have to defend myself to anyone at anytime. I can instead divert my energy to asking the Spirit to mold me into the image of Christ so that I can be a better witness to my family and beyond.
Have a happy and safe Fourth!