I am different and different is bad

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.

My reply?

“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.


When the to-do list doesn’t do it

I am a list maker by nature. When I know I have things that need to get done, I write them down on a handy dandy list and cross the items off as I finish them much faster than I otherwise normally would. Something about writing it all down helps me focus.

Then there are days like today where I cross things off the list and I don’t feel better. I don’t feel the accomplishment that I usually do. I don’t feel lighter. Instead, I feel heavier.

So what’s a person to do when the to do list isn’t cutting it?

This week has been so busy, and so has last week, and my daughter is getting more and more in my face. Maybe that’s a sign. Maybe that’s my sign to step back and just BE for a while. What if I were to try just BEING today instead of trying to DO all the time?

I am generally okay at putting the to do list to the side to relax or hang out with kids, but the past two weeks, it’s been much harder to sit down and exist with them or play with them. I find myself drawn over and over the lie of busyness, that I must be DOING in order to feel better or to feel accomplishment.

I wonder if the answer doesn’t run in the opposite way? That perhaps racing to just FINISH something isn’t the answer at all? That perhaps sitting and being more still is the answer? Figuring out how to engage the kids in playing with them. Figuring out their games. Not worrying about replying to that text or checking for the millionth time if I’ve gotten this email or that or if someone FINALLY answered my question on social media.

What if settling down and focusing on the important is really what’s important?

Maybe I’ve simply run myself a little ragged and I need to try to go the other direction. Maybe I need to look at walks differently, while they are good, I can get into the mindset that I should walk so I can cross off being present with the kids, but am I really being present? Or am I spending more time thinking about what I’ll do after that? After I’ve crossed off my ‘time with kids’ unwritten item on my list?

Maybe today, I’ll try something different. Maybe I’ll try to really spend quality time with them this morning so that they are READY for me to disappear and “do other things” after snack time. Instead of pretending that I’m around in the morning, I could actually be around. I could slow down a little and see the world through their eyes and ENJOY it.

I seem to need this reminder more often than I’d like to admit, but that is the process of growth, isn’t it? Reflecting, acknowledging, changing, growing.

Does your to-do list sometimes not cut it? What do you do then?

Recapping and Looking forward

Hey friends!

It’s been about six months since I started up my authoring website, blog, social media channels, and all that business. I think it’s safe to say I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, however, there is one thing I have discovered. All I need to do is be faithful to the step in front of me. I don’t need to know what’s going to happen in the next step. It will present itself when the time is right, but for now, I need to simply focus on what I need to do.

That said, I’ve been missing being over here and the freedom this blog provides for honesty and opinion. Since I am focusing a LOT on writing and writery things over on my other site, I don’t necessarily have the freedom to share as much what’s going on or what I’m reading or what I’m thinking about it or how I’m growing.

I want to try to be more consistent over here again, but with a little more focus and an idea of what to do here.

These past few weeks and months have been times of incredible growth and blessing and I realized I have almost no record of it. I’ve read some amazing books that are giving me lots to think about, but I’m not processing through it the way I’d like to.

So, first things first: authoring.

Like I said earlier, I am about six months into that journey. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to use Instagram and now Twitter. I think I have a decent understanding of Instagram, though my consistency is terrible. I don’t understand Twitter at all yet. I’m not sure what to do with it and how to use it effectively.

That said, I still seem to be gaining some followers, though I don’t really understand what that means either. I know I need to be engaging more with my audiences on their pages, on their turfs, but it’s hard to do that. Sure, I could press a bunch of like buttons and act like I’m engaging, but it doesn’t seem like enough to do that. It still seems as though I’m sending the message that I’m more concerned about me and my message than getting to know them.

I do feel like I have something to offer to the internet and it’s taking a lot of effort to figure it out and get a plan rolling, so I haven’t had a lot of time or energy to spare in my following. However, I don’t feel too distressed by the lack of numbers, actually. I know that I don’t know what I’m doing so I’m okay with what’s going on numbers-wise. Every time I get a notification on Twitter about people following me, my first question is ‘why?’. What am I offering that’s worth that? I don’t know yet.

On the writing side of things, my Bible study in the hands of my beta readers and in the next month I’ll be closing up that beta process. I’ve learned SO MUCH over the past six months of doing that and I know I’ll definitely be doing some things differently. I’ve received one set of data back and she hit all the points I’d been concerned about. I learned that my gut was probably right on some things and I was definitely wrong on some things. I’ll be very curious to see what other betas thought and be able to aggregate some data to draw some solid conclusions about it.

I’ve started writing a second Bible study. I was part of a Ruth study in a theology group I’m part of on facebook and it sparked me to dig even deeper into the book. Instead of just studying, I decided to take it a step further and write up on it too. It might go somewhere, it might not. I don’t really think it matters. What I do know is that it’s helping ME to think differently and to slow down enough to glean some good information.

My christian literary novel is completely finished in its beta draft form. I have a handful of betas slowly going through that book as well. The feedback I’ve been getting has been super helpful and it will be fun to go through it again at some point and incorporate the feedback to improve the book. What’s interesting is that this book that I wrote and had no intention of going anywhere with it after the first draft has been the first book that I go through the entire writing process with. God has a good sense of humor and timing and process.

My fantasy series is coming along. I’ve got about 42k words (85ish pages) and the story is really developing into something good. At least I think so. I’m enjoying discovering the story as it goes and working through the issues that arise as I write. I’ve enjoyed brainstorming with a fellow writer and trying to, first and foremost, get the story down. After I get the full story, then I’ll worry about editing and making it better, but for now, I just want a full draft.

I’ve been working on another fantasy story, one writing prompt at a time, and that hasn’t gone too far lately. Since it depends on prompts, I have to try to fit whatever the prompt is into the story and sometimes, that just doesn’t work.

Even so, I’ve done some other writing prompts lately that have stretched my skills a little as I explore some different characters and a different POV than the one in which I usually write. I’ve gotten some good feedback on that, so it’s exciting. I have a feeling that some of those exercises will come in handy when I finally introduce the villain in my fantasy.

These last few months have been really busy, but really good at the same time. I’m going to try to post about once a week over here as well with more normal, day to day kind of things. It should be fun and it will be good to practice all different kinds of writing.

Until next time, friends!