A little less than two weeks ago, I posted something very controversial. I believe it became controversial moreso because of the subject matter than because of what I actually wrote. Nevertheless, the responses affected me. Many were positive and many were negative, but the emotional impact of the negative comments tends to outweigh the positive. As rap artist KB says "If I can be honest I get depressed when people ain't feelin' me, Twenty people say awesome job man, one person hates it, I'm crushed for the week."
I did end up changing the wording of what I wrote slightly, but I didn't change the point, which as always is to try and walk through what actually makes sense and then to begin an honest conversation. What follows is an honest inside look into my heart over the last two weeks...
Apprehension. The fear of clicking "Publish" on something you know will be hated by at least some who read it, and probably some who don't take the time to read it fully. Fear of being courageous enough to put something out on the Internet that I believe is right and full of love despite the way others will react to it.
Distress. The immediate emotional response to the first negative comment. The need to respond to it right away so that I don't spend the whole night thinking about it and dwelling on it. The frustration that the person didn't even try to have a conversation, but simply attacked. And they were a jerk.
Stress. Now all of the negative comments have begun. Mostly not that bad, but some in particular that are outraged. Reading through the comments stresses me even more as they make outlandish accusations that are not even remotely accurate or true based on what I wrote. I understand the emotional reactions, but I don't understand how someone can read what I wrote clearly with compassion and take it as hateful. I'm pretty sure I lost two Facebook friends.
Conflicted. Did I actually write the right things? If the only people making positive comments are people who already agree with me, then should I have written this, even if it is right? Does it matter if I had good intentions if all they do are alienate the very people I'm trying to reach out to and start a healthy, productive conversation with? Should I delete what I wrote? Should I change it? Should I have talked more about grace and Jesus rather than working through the intellectual reasons people have for their beliefs on the topic? I don't know what to do. I'm questioning whether I'm simply enduring persecution for trying to address truth in love or whether I am in fact wrong in my approach.
Relief. Relief when somebody finally does make a positive comment. Relief that that person can actually speak with some authority on the subject from personal experience and yet agrees with me. Relief that they try to address some of the negativity being pushed at me.
Encouragement. Encouragement as many of my friends send me supportive messages and even make me a card to say they're standing by me, that they know me and know I am not what others are saying I am, that they admire my courage and don't believe I have done anything wrong. I needed them. I start to realize that what I wrote has impacted at least some people in a positive way, even though they are mostly people who already agreed with me to some extent.
Discouragement. Discouragement because of the friends who indirectly indicate that they don't agree with either my way of addressing the topic or with my addressing it online at all. They're not willing to actually send me a message and talk about it or even tell me, but they subtly hint at it. Ironically, they for whatever reason choose not to address the issue with me even though that's exactly what I had the courage to do. Exactly what I need when I'm already feeling discouraged, conflicted and stressed.
Human. I am one. I make mistakes. I try to figure out whether what I did was right. I suffer distress when others attack me. I experience depression when friends don't support me, or even worse, subtly hint at it. I do my best to be loving and genuine and to write from an objective perspective rather than a biased one, but it often seems pointless when I am frequently misunderstood as a result of the unchecked biases of my readers. Maybe this is easy for those who are actually intolerant and hateful, but it's not for me.
Different. I don't cave when I believe that what I said was right, and that I approached it in a loving way, even though it has caused me emotional turmoil. I don't delete the hostile comments, even though they paint me in a negative light. I don't take back what I have written, but not because I am stubborn or proud. I only persevere despite brokenness because after days and days of self-conflict, reflection and prayer, I still earnestly believe that what I wrote is not offensive, and that I did at least try to approach things in the right way.
I am human.