Over the weekend, I got my first mean comment on Ragtag Reveries. On the one hand, I can’t believe it took this long. On the other, it totally caught me off guard and ate my confidence. After reading that comment, I could feel myself shrivel up inside.
I talked to a few in my circle. We all need at least a precious handful of people in our lives who can help us see ourselves as more than the worst of what others say about us. In particular, I need help sometimes to know what’s bogus in comments others say about me, and what’s something I might actually need to absorb. More often the former than the latter, since the negative seeps in so much deeper and easier than the praises. I tend to forget the praises when I’ve been criticized.
I can’t help but wonder why is it that the shame voices are so much easier to soak in than the voices where people mention good things about me? This drives me nuts. I know this about me, and yet my brain refuses to intake feedback differently.
After that comment, the fear monster in me has something concrete to look at rather than hypothetical disapproving responses. I can feel my defensiveness creep up as I’ve been thinking about writing again for the past few days.
I try to be vulnerable here. To not cover up the mess and difficulty with glitter and shellac and I-have-it-all-togetherness. I try to write while I’m in process, not once I’ve got things all figured out and polished. And, wowies, that one mean comment made me want to revert to sparkles and bubbles and shiny and fluffy things.
The problem in that response is that then I let haters win, and I stop trying to write things that matter. Today, I’m just trying to hang in there with writing things that matter.
The point of all this is not “woe is me” or “please, pity me.” Nor do I need anyone getting his or her dander up on my behalf.
Writing is a risk. I choose to put myself out there: flaws, mistakes and all. And the point of all this is hope that my story encourages or challenges someone else. But, I also have to learn how to manage voices that strike at my vulnerable places. I totally suck at this. But, if writing really matters to me (and it does), then I have to keep working at this part. This is part of what it means to be a writer.
This coming Sunday’s Psalm 25 reading was balm for me this week. I needed reminding of whose hands hold my life. I can hold myself loosely when I remember I don’t have to champion myself. Words are just words, even as they burn and sting. I don’t have to carry shame labels from others. I can trust God as my defender.
I’m still in pursuit of God. I’m trying to figure out this road and uphill climb. The way is rocky, and I so often stumble. But, I will keep walking and pushing towards justice, mercy, grace and kindness. My hope is not in my own offerings, but that somehow God shows up in His unrelenting faithfulness and bears fruit through my meager efforts.
Even as I don’t have it all figured out and I’m going to take some steps that sadly (and unintentionally) land on others’ toes, I want to keep on in the pursuit of justice and mercy. And in the journey, I choose to trust God, who has brought me safe thus far, will lead me on the road I should follow. I will remember that I am loved. I’m not on the path alone. As I strive to remember that all people matter, I will acknowledge I’m a person who matters too. And that’s a really big deal for me.