This is a post that I don’t fully know how to begin. Partly because my heart is still broken. Partly because it’s still early. I’ve been up for a while just laying in bed, reflecting, and feeling sad.
In the past six weeks, I’ve been personally attacked by two different people in two different spheres of life and they both serve to remind me of something I sometimes forget: I am different.
Yes, I am a white, heterosexual, Christian woman. How different can I be?
Different enough, it seems.
You see, I’m one who has always related better to boys than girls. My interests tend to be more aligned with traditionally men’s interests. Lately, I’ve wondered deep inside my heart if maybe God didn’t screw up when He made me. I’ve wondered if He accidentally grabbed a personality from the boy bucket and a body from the girl bucket and put them together.
I can remember, from my earliest days, that I always got along better with boys.
I remember that I wanted to be a boy scout when I was little because the Girl Scouts sheltered us so much from any possible or potential hurt.
I had (and still have) a strong personality and I often took charge in situations where no one else did.
When I read devotionals aimed at men, they speak to me. Devotionals for women don’t.
I could keep going. The point is, I don’t fit and people don’t really know what to do with that. They didn’t know what to do with it at school. They didn’t know what to do with it in youth group. They didn’t know what to do with it in Girl Scouts. They didn’t know what to do with it in my internet groups. They didn’t know what to do with it in college. They didn’t know what to do with it when I started working.
Somehow, a woman who takes charge and leads effectively, who offers alternative ways of thinking, who pursues a vision relentlessly is bad. A man who does these things is focused and driven. A women is hard to deal with and a bitch (come on, you all know this is true).
I remember in college, one of my professors told me to “be nice, because it’s the Christian thing to do.” He wanted me to stop holding people accountable because it was causing a headache for him.
Recently, I was personally attacked behind closed doors by someone who I believed was on my team and whose team I was on. I was accused of all kinds of horrendous, yet completely untrue, things. I’ve questioned myself a great deal since then. I wonder if other people question me.
In May, I joined a blogger training facebook group hosted and led by a somewhat famous mom blogger. Just this weekend, I was accused by her mother (who is in the group to provide encouragement) of farming the group for followers and then had a grandiose and heavily over-exaggerated claim set on my shoulders of lecturing others in the group. I’ve since left the group because the sacredness of it is gone for me. I’ve seen her truest, deepest self and she is untrustworthy. She is not safe to be around. The sacred space that was once that group for me has been violated. I have been called the enemy.
When I talked to my husband about it, he gently reminded me that I’m different.
“I don’t want to be different.”
I am 31 years old and it was like I was 12 all over again. I don’t want to be different. I want to just be like everyone else. I just want people to be nice to me, to take the time to understand my heart before heaping accusation on me. To take a few minutes to ask questions of understanding instead of words that blame and cut down.
Even this morning, I laid in bed, not wanting to get up, not wanting the sun to come up, not wanting to face today because I’m still different. And apparently different is bad.
My heart hurts so much over these situations. I just want to be the same.
I worry about my daughter and the world she will grow up into. Because you know what? She’s different, too. She’s a girl with a strong personality. She knows what she wants. She’s not afraid to speak up. And the world will try to crush her just like it’s trying to crush me.
I know I can take consolation in the fact that my husband loves that I’m different. My friends love that I’m different. My church loves that I’m different. They all respect me for who I am and how God made me. However, in this moment, it doesn’t seem enough. In this moment, I wish I just fit in and was easier to handle. In this moment, the words of cowards have more weight than the words of those who love me. My soul is weighed down by the careless words of a few people who speak to my deepest insecurities.
In time, these wounds will fade, but the seeds of doubt and insecurity have been watered. I question how everyone will perceive me. I wonder if they don’t like me too. I wonder if I am a bad person and just don’t see it.
Friends, please remember something – your words matter. What you said and how you say it matters. We are dealing with human souls, whether they are across the table or across the internet. Just because we type the words behind the safety of our screens doesn’t nullify the fact that there are human beings on the other side. Humans with feelings, with dreams, with aspirations, with insecurities.
I used to tell my now 3.5 year old that her words matter. It was a good reminder to me. My words matter. I can choose to speak words of life or I can choose to speak words of death. That is my choice and my choice alone.
Friends, don’t use the internet as an excuse to spew your vitriol and your issues. Don’t hide behind your firewall and lob emotional grenades at others. The damage you cause is real and it’s deep. Speak life into others. Use your words to build others up instead of tear them down. We only get one chance at life. Don’t waste it with careless words.