This past week I had my first post “go viral” with over 150,000 hits in less than a week. I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of comments I’ve received and trying to keep up with answering them all. (You can read it here if you missed it). For the most part people are amused and tell me their own horror story because they can totally relate. But then there are those other not so nice comments and flat out personal attacks on me and my character.
Thank goodness for the discretion that has come with age and the actual desire to use it.
My first response is to feel defensive when I’m attacked. It’s human nature. I want to lash out with the sarcastic comeback I already have in my mind. But as a Christian, I don’t have the luxury of saying whatever pops into my head. Thank goodness for the discretion that has come with age and the actual desire to use it.
What I realized when I read between the lines of these comments though, is that people are hurting. Something I said struck a cord with them, and not in a good way.
For example, I made a comment in my post about people using “my dog died” as an excuse to flake out on me when buying something I’m selling. 99.99% of the time; it’s just an excuse. But someone falls in that .01% and that someone was offended by my comment.
The thing about humor, especially sarcastic humor, is it can be open to interpretation.
Now clearly, especially if you know me, this was exaggerated in good fun to make a point. But maybe you don’t know me. Maybe you think I am that cold and mean. The thing about humor, especially sarcastic humor, is it can be open to interpretation.
In one of the comments I received, the person was really offended by this statement because she had just lost her dog. Now I admit I was a little mad and defensive when I read her comment because I felt attacked. Why was she angry with ME? I didn’t kill her dog! I wasn’t talking about HER. But then I imagined how I would feel if I lost my dog. Obviously she is emotional about it and took something personally that had nothing to do with her and she felt angered and took it to the keyboard.
What matters is the way that she perceived it
That is where Grace comes in. I did not respond in the way I initially wanted to. Instead I apologized for offending her. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t mean to and and it really had nothing to do with her. What matters is the way that she perceived it. I told her I was sorry for her loss and that I could only imagine the devastation she was feeling. I did this because I felt bad. I put myself in her situation and I felt her pain through her angrily typed out words.
I really expected that to be the end of it and had peace knowing I responded in the way that I should instead of the way that I initially felt. She actually wrote back though and apologized for taking it personally and explained that she was just in a bad place and it was a sore subject for her. My heart literally melted. This could have completely gone the other way. If I had responded negatively as my initial instinct told me to do; she would have too and it would just escalate from there. I have learned this one the hard way (the way I learn everything it seems) and done the back and forth arguing. Guess what? Nobody wins.
Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
This one positive response made me WANT to give grace and WANT to show God’s love as Christians we are told to do. I struggle with this. I really really really do. But seeing the impact it can have is so worth being obedient.
2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
In return, this woman showed grace to me. She let me off the hook and accepted the grace given. Did I deserve to be on the hook in the first place? Probably not which is why she was able to humbly recognize that she took something personally that wasn’t really about her.
I try not to hide the bad comment because it keeps it more authentic to show both sides.
I have received several other negative comments. Many in fact were so bad that I couldn’t even approve them. (I approve all comments before they are published). I try not to hide the bad comments because it keeps it more authentic to show both sides. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I will not, however, post something with swearing or that has no value because it’s just a personal attack. If it’s an opinion different than mine, I post it and I respond to it with as much grace as I can muster.
It isn’t easy. I do have pride that I also battle. But by the very definition of grace; it is not deserved. No one person really deserves it. It’s easy to be nice to those who compliment and flatter me. It’s hard to show grace to those that attack me.
James 4:6 (NIV)
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Anything that makes me stretch and grow is worth the sting of a few hurtful words.
Writing and blogging has opened me up to judgement and criticism on a much larger scale then the regular old small town mommy judgement I’m used to. I am shocked at the amount of people that take things so personally when it isn’t about them. (Unless you are one of the people that did those things to me in my Buy/Sell/Trade post then I AM talking about you). But seriously, it also gives me a unique opportunity to practice what I preach and live a life of obedience. Anything that makes me stretch and grow is worth the sting of a few hurtful words.
Romans 11:6 (NIV)
And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
I’m not going to lie. It hurts a little; ok a lot. Of course I want everyone to like me. And that just side of me that is very black and white about what is right and wrong feels angered at the injustice of being attacked and judged. But that is when I remind myself that I only answer to one and his grace is all that I need.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
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