But the truth of it is that every single one of those words did hurt me. As much as I didn't want them to, they did. Nearly two years ago, I was having a particularly difficult moment of parenting with Micah and I took to my blog to express my frustration. Most people were sympathetic and encouraging, but one commenter was so put off by my words that she called me out for my terrible parenting, accusing me of being abusive, and even went so far as to say that Micah would be better off being adopted by someone else since I clearly was unfit to be his mother.
Upon reading that single comment, I was immediately swallowed by an uncontrollable bout of ugly tears and was ready to shut down my blog to the public forever. I also found myself questioning whether or not she might actually be right. Was a really a bad mom? Would my kids really be better off with someone else? Was I messing them up forever?
That's all it took to have me questioning everything I knew.
He said to the woman "Did God actually say 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" (Gen 3:1)
Are you sure? Really? Are you one hundred percent certain that God didn't mess this one up? How can you be absolutely positive that he has your best interest in mind? What if it isn't true?
It took longer than I care to admit for me to recover from that one nasty comment. Once I realized that it was likely less about me and more about the heart of the commenter, I was able to change my perspective and move on with more of an attitude of grace than one of resentment.
This time around, it hasn't just been one comment....but DOZENS.
Over and over, I have been admonished for my negligent parenting, my obvious lack of control over my wild children, my terrible judgment for allowing my child to speak to a stranger, my irresponsibility for birthing more children than I can handle, my rudeness for even bringing small children to a baseball game in the first place, and my despicable decision to write about a stranger who likely resents the sudden attention.
As every email entered my inbox, I tried hard to read them with an open mind and a sensitive heart. Obviously these people don't know me or my family personally or they would know for a fact that all these accusations are entirely false. The comments left by the couple people who were actually there and witnessed the event were positive and reassuring, but the hateful and mean ones were almost always signed "Anonymous." Still, the sheer volume of the negativity made it difficult to stomach.
But this particular one stopped me in its tracks with its cruelty and I haven't been able to get it out of my head:
So clearly this woman is an incompetent mother with brat children who behave like animals and you're all lauding her for her inability to control her b*****d offspring? You've got to be kidding me. Sure, the guy is a champion, but he shouldn't have had his day interrupted and his DATE interrupted just because the woman behind him chose to s**t more kids than she can keep a leash on. Typical f***ing Americans.
Clearly this is more profanity that I ever allow in my space, but I copy and paste it here only because I want you to really get a feel for the level of nastiness that I've been having to wade through as fallout from this post. I'm sorry, but you can accuse me of being incompetent all you want, but the second you start insulting my children.....I get a little riled up.
I share it with you now for this reason. I stumbled across a story on Yahoo the other day of a hateful letter that was delivered to a family in Ontario where a woman in her neighborhood berated them for moving into her neighborhood with their "wild animal kid" and suggested it would be better for everyone involved if they would just "euthanize him."
(Image Source: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/ontario-police-aware-hateful-letter-telling-family-euthanize-171036930.html)
Y'all, this letter wasn't even to my kid and the Mama Bear in me awoke with a vengeance. All the yuckiness that had welled up in me while I read the difficult comments directed at me and my family were merely child's play in comparison to how this mother must have felt as she read such horrible things directed at her and her child.
It's just unacceptable. No mother (or father or grandparent or guardian or whatever) should have to feel the boiling in their belly that comes from having to fend off such attacks. Why do we treat one another this way?
Being a parent is the most difficult job on the planet and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. It is a daily struggle and exhausting joy all wrapped into one. It's raw, dirty, gut-wrenching, tear streaked, kiss covered, heart breaking, messy work. There is no greater satisfaction on this earth than to raise up your children to be adults who love God, love others, and live in a way that reflects that. No two parents approach it the same way and there is no one "right" way to accomplish the desired result, so I am continually flabbergasted at how NASTY people can be to one another when it comes to criticizing their parenting and some (as in these cases) go as far as to attack the children directly.
I refuse to raise my sons to live in fear. Yes, there are some scary people in the world who do terrible things, but if I allow that to keep my children from extending kindness, showing love, or sacrificing their comfort for the sake one another than I have failed as a parent. What good would it do my kids to keep them from walking out the front door? How can I teach them to be the hands and feet of Christ if they're so terrified of the unknown that they can't bring themselves to trust God to watch over their steps? I'm not saying I'm going to encourage them to go wander around dark alleyways at midnight, but I am advocating for the parental community at large to quit competing and sniping at one another and instead focus that energy on letting our kids BE KIDS while we have time and to model kindness, love, and respect at every possible moment - including with each other.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31)
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors
while evil is in their hearts. (Psalm 28:3)
Hatred is a wasted effort, friends. It takes an incredible amount of energy to muster up the determination to be spiteful and nasty to others. I have heard over and over again since the Brewer game story that many were surprised that it was such a big deal. Heck, even the young man who gave Isaiah the ball was somewhat flabbergasted that such a seemingly small act of kindness struck such a chord with people and spread like wildfire. It touched hearts and spoke to something that we all crave on a deeper, spiritual level. We are not meant to be standoffish, fearful, and confrontational with one another. This simple story of a boy, a baseball, and a stranger wasn't about the baseball. It was a reminder of the way things ought to be - where strangers can become friends in an instant, where children can be children without fear of disapproving glances, and where the ordinary becomes extraordinary when done out of love for others.
I don't know about you, but I fail to see the fault in any of that.
IMPORTANT: For every nasty comment my post received (no matter where it was published), there were at least twenty kind comments from people applauding the kindness being displayed and being very encouraging and positive. I don't want it to seem like the negative feedback outweighed the positive in any way because that was most certainly not the case. I am extremely grateful to everyone who read my post, connected with it, and commented to put a smile on my face!