faith

When Hate Comes Your Way

What do you do when hate, anger or negativity comes your way? What do you do with it? What do you make of it?

It seems like the bigger the endeavor, the more the pushback. The more public your job or presence, the more the pot gets stirred and you become a target.

The late author Rachel Held Evans, (1981-2019) knew about hate. She was a best-selling author who wrote about faith, doubt and life at first on her blog and then on a wider and wider stage. She spoke her mind and heart, so her views were not always well received. She wrote about hate mail: While the overwhelming majority of the correspondence I get is encouraging and positive, there is still a fair amount of hate mail in my inbox and ugliness in certain comment sections across the blogsphere. While this is undoubtedly an expected consequence of writing and speaking publicly, especially on matters of heart, spirit, and soul, it can still sting. As much as I try to ignore the most vile of these messages, they can still be quite painful…. (Wholehearted Faith, 162-163), by Rachel Held Evans and Jeff Chu

In what turned out to be the last two years of her too short life, Rachel began the practice of printing out her hate emails and turning them into origami, that beautiful Japanese paper craft. She said, I wanted to turn my hate mail into pretty birds and ships, flowers and kites. She later called it her spiritual practice. As she folded, she learned about trial and error, redirecting anxious self-focused energy, purposeful creativity, healing, about letting go and asking for help.

As a receiver of some of this and the spouse of someone who gets a great deal of pushback, Rachel’s words ring true: Something tells me that we might all be a bit more careful, a bit more gentle, if we knew how our words can travel through another’s ear and linger for a long time in their soul. What if we imagined those words sitting on one another’s kitchen tables, waiting to be reshaped? What if we knew just how much effort and time it might take to transform those ugly and heavy words into something beautiful and printed for fight, something that could float or fly away? (Wholehearted Faith, p. 166.)

And this, you might not be able to hear the cranes’ call or the pigeons’ coo, but I can: They tell me that this world and this life are not mine alone. They whisper that we live in community, whether we like the other members or not. They teach me every time I look at them that belovedness belongs to us all. (Wholehearted Faith, p. 166)

What do you make of the hate, misunderstanding and negativity coming your way? Something beautiful, I hope.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. Go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com for more blogs, to see upcoming events and to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly email resuming September 1, 2022. Dr. Ryan will be leading a Women’s Book Club/Review of Rachel Held Evans and Peter Chu’s book, Wholehearted Faith on Tuesday 9-20 at First United Methodist, 422 Church St, Grapevine, TX 76051. Choose from a 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. session, https://rsvp.church/r/8WAbGU5z

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