I have been accused of wearing my heart on my sleeve, of sharing more in a public forum than is deemed appropriate, of basically being too much of myself on the page. These things were said to me even before I came out of the “hard marriage” closet, and back then, I was writing only in veiled references most of the time.
But now…now that I am no longer hiding, now that I’m an open book, as I’ve been recently told, I am catching some flack. Okay, so, more specifically, in the past twenty-four hours. You see, I wrote a couple painful-to-write essays that have come under fire. And when you are a writer or artist or creator of any kind, you are actually what is scrutinized as your work is being scrutinized, because the work is an extension of you. My heart is in my words. I cannot be separated from them.
So, I splayed myself out there, letting blood drip on the page of some posts, and I heard from people.
Some, the majority, were kind. I heard that I was not alone. I heard that my story reminded them of their stories. I heard that God had healed them, or at least, was bringing them healing. I heard them say that they are stronger because of their pain. And I heard thank you for sharing this over and over. These are the words that should stay with me, that should push me to write even more authentically.
But then others, well…others I just plain ticked off. I heard everything from “you’re wrong to justify your actions” to “what is wrong with you??” to, basically, “you call yourself a Christian?” Talk about wanting to take my ball and go home.
But here are a couple things that I have in my arsenal now that I didn’t know ten or fifteen years ago.
I’m a part of a community of women, friends and fellow writers, who not only covered me with gentle words to heap on top of the harsh ones, but they even took to the streets for me. Not only did I not have to defend myself against those allegations, I didn’t even have to ask anyone to do so for me…they just went and did it on their own, “storming the castle” on my behalf. Even a year ago, I would’ve read the words that I read yesterday and I would’ve cried and I maybe would’ve not written another word for a while. But now, with these women surrounding me reminding me to be fearless and brave, I’m back on my horse, word sword in hand, doing what I’m called to do.
And I also know something else. I have spent my entire life caring desperately what other people think of me. Sadly, I have allowed that unhealthy thinking to flourish in every area of my life. In fact, recently, I had two confrontations within a few days of each other and I couldn’t help but obsess about them. Why did he say that? Why does she feel that way about me? Doesn’t he know I’m doing my best? Doesn’t she know my heart? And one day, I felt the Spirit say to me, clear as can be, “You care too much what other people think of you.” I literally said out loud, “Wait…what did you just say?” “You care too much what other people think of you. Only my opinion of you matters.”
Tears welled up in my eyes immediately. I hate disappointing people. And I mean, hate it. I fear having differing opinions from people who I know will be mad at me if I do so. I just want everybody to like me. But you know what I’m learning? Everybody doesn’t like me, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Everybody doesn’t agree with me, and they don’t have to. You reading this right now do not have to agree with even one word I say. It’s totally okay.
But this is what I believe now, and this is why I’m writing this morning after a brutal day.
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (I Corinthians 4:3-4)
It turns out that it is scriptural – not selfish – to not care what other people think of me, especially because I know my heart. I know I’m not trying to justify anything, because I don’t have anyone to justify to. I know that I am a Christian because I love Christ. I know I’m supposed to be a light but it’s through telling the truth of my pain and how Jesus is healing me that I choose to shine it. And I know that he’s given me stories and words to share.
So for today, I’m listening to his voice only, and his voice is Love.
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Well said and Amen!
Thank you so much, May you always be brave and strong in the face of adversity. You are such an inspiration.
i came across your blog a few days ago and all i can say is i feel it has been a blessing! i think your honesty is the way it should be. i am able to relate all too easily with some of the things in your past and it serves as an ispiration since i am choosing to follow similiar footsteps with the assurance that this is His plan for me! thank you!!
My fellow sister in the faith,
I want to encourage you that, for a while now, your writings have really encouraged and lifted me up.
I also wear my heart on my sleeve, however I married into a culture in which you don’t express your true feelings nor do you confide in anyone, even your family. SO at times I feel like breaking free!
So you don’t mind what they say!
You are reaching many women, even when you don’t know it.
And above all, you are special, you are precious, you are His.
I think it’s brave of you to admit and share your story. In
a world where people are quick to judge others who do
not share their beliefs, you stand out for being real. I
pray that you would continue to do so. Your story has been a source of encouragement to women who has kept silent about their pain. For those who told you the words “you call yourself a christian?” well i guess their somewhat judgemental attitude in my opinion isn’t very “christian” as well. The point is we are all works in progress each walking a different path learning different lessons. I know that in God’s perfect time it will all be well.
Keep writing and sharing that others like me will learn from your journey as well.
You have refreshed my spirit to actually meet a Christian woman who is willing to be real. So many of us walk around with a pasted smile pretending like our marriages are perfect and our children are not rebellious. Thank you for sharing your story. Jesus died for our stories.
AMEN!!! I’m also often accused of being too open, but our Lord says that we are living testimonies. How can we be a testimony to others if we don’t reveal what He has done in us? More Christians should shine their lights and help others out of their darkness. I admire you!
An email about your article was in my inbox this morning and I can only believe that it was God’s hand. I desperately needed to read your story and I can’t wait to read the next parts. Thank you for writing!
ok… so I am relieve that I am not the only one who care and g to sadly still do care what people say about me… I am not at that point that you are at but I am hoping to get there. I try to noy care, but their words hurt deeply sometimes. keep writing, I appreciate your openness and honesty
You are a very talented writer. I do not think that it is a sin to wear your heart on your sleeve. That is reality. Jesus wept. Jesus had compassion. I think people often knew exactly how He felt. That is a great thing.
I did not recognize any of the comments that were hurtful to you as coming from me.
The only suggestion, and I offer this as gently as I possibly can, is that as a Christian writer, and I do believe that you are a sister in Christ, that you give us our Father’s and Savior’s Words as found in the Scriptures, not only your words and feelings. You reach a great audience. Some others have mentioned the same idea. That is a constructive suggestion to bring glory to our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. May God richly bless you today through His Word and presence.