A friend of mine posted to Facebook to share an example of sexism she recently experienced as a mother. She asked if it was okay to feel upset about the incident.
Most of the comments all affirmed her upset feelings.
Others did not.
In fact, those dissenting comments all told her:
- you’re overreacting just like all other parents overreact over something
- you need to be grateful you even have a child
- it’s not fair to accuse that person of sexism when they could have had other reasons for doing this
- you need to be grateful that person even talked to you in the first place
I’m paraphrasing here to protect the anonymity of everyone involved. While none of the comments were worded so harshly (or vaguely!), the substance is absolutely the same.
I wanted to respond, but I didn’t trust myself to keep my anger in check. Luckily, someone else wrote a beautiful comment. (This is very similar to the actual comment).
This mother can be grateful that this person reached out to her, and feel blessed to be a mom, and STILL be angry and frustrated at sexist notions of parenting. They are not mutually exclusive, and she is reading into a genuine problem, even if the other person was unintentionally sexist.
People can, and should, care about multiple things at once. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost our compassion and empathy for each other, at least in the way we relate online.
I’ve noticed a troubling trend in my last three years of blogging.
People will belittle the heartfelt words and charitable actions of others if they don’t fit into a neat little box.
On Monday I reacted to the Las Vegas massacre. I posted to Instagram and to Facebook my feelings about such a terrible act of violence.
I had a different post planned for today. An upbeat, optimistic post of my smiling face, asking you to read my blog. ⠀⠀…
But I also promoted a blog post online, prepared the house for a dinner guest, commented on pretty Instagram photos, and enjoyed a nice evening with my husband and our friend.
Yesterday I announced on Instagram and on Facebook my intention to donate 50% of my commissions from a week-long sale to the GlobalGiving fund for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. I wrote sales copy about the awesome blogging bundle I’m promoting.
3 1/2 years ago, my husband and I honeymooned in Puerto Rico. We stayed in San Juan for about a week and mostly relaxed at the beach, while taking 1 day trip to Old San Juan and 2 other day trips to see more of the beautiful US territory. ⠀ ⠀ In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico (and the rest of the Caribbean) needs help. For that reason, I'm donating 50% of my commissions from selling the Genius Blogger's Toolkit. I've chosen the GlobalGiving fund for the Caribbean to receive my donations. You can find my affiliate link in my bio to purchase the Genius Blogger's Toolkit, available this week only. ⠀ ⠀ This morning I purchased this bundle for myself. At only $97, it's a total steal. While I don't plan on reading all 28 ebooks or taking all 43 courses, I am excited for quite a few. Such as:⠀ ⠀ Pinteresting Strategies: How I Went from 0-200K Page Views with Manual Pinning ($32.00)⠀ ⠀ Pageviews from Pinterest: The 7-Step System to Skyrocket Your Blog Traffic (& Income!) in the Next 30 Days ($197.00)⠀ ⠀ Crush It with Facebook Groups: The Ultimate Guide for Bloggers and Creative Entrepreneurs ($15.00)⠀ ⠀ 10 Super Common Facebook Strategies That Do More Harm Than Good ($15.00)⠀ ⠀ Even if I only use those resources, I saved money by buying the Genius Blogger's Toolkit. ⠀ ⠀ When you buy the bundle, you save money AND help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. ⠀ ⠀ That's what I call a win-win!⠀ ⠀ This offer only lasts until October 9th, so act now! #LaBelleBlog
But I also wrote this blog post, and read a book, and finished another blog post, and shared a funny NPR story to Facebook, and commented on pretty Instagram photos, and watched Netflix with my husband.
Just because I write or say one thing doesn’t mean that I care only about that one thing and nothing else. Just because I’m happy about one thing doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad about something else.
And yet how quickly people rush to judgment! How quickly people scorn a few good deeds as not good enough! How quickly people assume that if you focus on one troubling thing in a moment, you have no love or compassion for any other ongoing crisis in the world.
I am a complex human being made in the image of God.
So are you.
My humanity is why I can care about so many things at once.
But my Christian faith is why I should care about so many things at once.
God Knows You and Loves You
In the Bible, Jesus tells us:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. -Matthew 10:29-31
What does Jesus mean by this?
In biblical times, sparrows were a cheap commodity. And yet, God still knows when a single sparrow dies.
God knows you so well that She can count every single hair on your head.
God cares about even the lowliest of animals and still values you so much more! Can you imagine how well God knows you and loves you?! God’s love is a beautiful thing to celebrate!
Just because God cares about the sparrows doesn’t mean She stops caring about you. God cares about you, me, and every single one of Her children.
While humans lack this magnificent capacity for infinite love and knowledge, God still calls us to love one another.
Loving Your Neighbor
What are the two greatest commandments?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31
Your neighbor isn’t limited to your physical next-door neighbor. God calls Christians to love the people in our lives. We don’t need to love just one person at a time. We can–and we should–love as much as possible.
While this applies to feelings of love for family and friends, we also need to act with love. I don’t need to love someone intimately in my heart in order to treat that person with love, compassion, and kindness.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God tells us how to love.
When we criticize someone for calling for concrete actions beyond prayer, we are insisting on our own way. Instead we should continue to pray while remembering the Bible calls us to help those without.
When we share memes (without fact-checking) to prove our cleverness, we boast as we disregard the truth. Instead we should question the intentions in our hearts before sharing anything online. If your intentions are pure, then seek the truth before sharing.
Jesus was fully human and fully divine. In a beautiful moment of humanity, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha who grieved the loss of their brother, Lazarus. (I encourage you to read all of John 11 for more context).
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. -John 11:33-35
At this point, Jesus has already said that Lazarus will rise from the dead. Just a few verses later, Jesus will bring Lazarus back to life.
And yet still, Jesus wept.
Jesus could have scoffed at the sisters for not understanding when He said Lazarus will rise again. Jesus could have scolded them for grieving Lazarus, even though Mary and Martha believed they would all be reunited in the afterlife.
But Jesus did none of that. Instead of responding with logic, he responded with love.
Rejoicing and Weeping
In a single day, I might grieve my mother’s death, laugh at a bad pun, cry over a sappy commercial, feel great joy while video-chatting with my nephew, worry about my father, experience great contentment while snuggling my husband, laugh and cry while reading a book, and fall asleep while asking God to heal me so I can become a mother one day.
I am a complex human being made in the image of God.
So are you.
I can experience many emotions in a single day–sometimes a single moment.
While I shared mostly private emotions above, I also react to the emotions of others.
When my husband comes home after a stressful day at work, I sympathize with him. When a friend calls me with good news, I celebrate with her.
God calls us to do this.
In Romans, Paul advises Christians in their way of life. (I encourage you to read all of Romans 12 for more context).
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. -Romans 12:15-18
Key Takeaways on Christian Love
- Always act with love, even online. This includes having a humble heart, writing kind words, believing the best of people, and seeking the truth, among other things.
- Reflect and pray before responding to someone else, especially if that person upsets you. Who is that person, and what do you know of their heart? What is the intention behind your response? Are you acting with love?
- Just as you experience complex emotions, campaign for multiple causes, and love many people, so does everyone else. Loving your neighbor as yourself includes assuming other people are as complex as you.
- Treat all people as image-bearers of God, worthy of God’s love. If God can love even the lowliest of humans, so can you.
And when a mother expresses her frustration on Facebook, sympathize with her instead of minimizing her feelings or assuming she’s incapable of feeling multiple things at once.