When the fear of being perceived as unkind forces us to remain silent
Well, it happened again.
Sometimes, a pattern emerges in our lives that isn’t of our making. For me, it arrived in my response to comments on my social media content.
In the beginning, there was an assumption on my part that I would simply delete the comments that were off-topic, vitriolic or insulting. However, sometimes one comes along that is so egregious it stands head and shoulders above the rest.
I’ve been doing this long enough to expect pushback from those who are offended that I’m ministering to the outliers of Christianity -- the ones hurt by the beliefs those who oppose me hold sacred. So I’m not surprised by the negative backlash.
What is surprising is my response -- I see them as teaching opportunities.
Somewhere between leaving church and today, I stopped defending my spirituality. That path was not straight and flat. It was curvy and mired with exposed roots that repeatedly tripped me as I deconstructed a fear-based theology that wreaked havoc on my confidence, self-worth, my faith and connection to God.
The impact of the religious trauma I carried showed up in my life as uber-defensiveness or retreating when someone would judge or oppose my spiritual but not religious journey.
The former response is exhausting, the latter is defeatist and neither is helpful or productive. I had a choice -- stop this pattern or continue circling the proverbial mountain where I was being held back from doing the work I was called to do.
Dealing with any type of trauma that disrupts our ability to face life is not easy. I can look back and see the precise moments where I wanted to sit down and give up.
But I didn’t. I kept going until one day, the toxicity aimed at me became a tool to help others on their healing journey. Why is this important? Because it revealed my own healing. More importantly, it’s an example to the person behind me on this path. They too, are reading that hate-filled comment and are seconds away from tripping on their own exposed roots.
To lessen the damage and increase its chance of enlightening our followers, I respond quickly. My responses have become so popular that followers have dubbed them “The Rev. Karla takedown.”
The “takedown” is simply kindness that takes no bull. Oftentimes, followers respond with even more kindness -- a character trait they begin to cultivate. But none of that happened overnight for me and I’m still capable of being tripped up if I respond from a place of anger or fear. It would find me sliding down that proverbial mountain and where I’d find familiar grounds -- uber-defensiveness and retreat.
The Holy is not at the place on the mountain that held me captive for so long. The Holy is revealed as I continue to climb and strip away elements of my human experience that no longer serve my highest good.
My highest good is to bundle harmful hatred and create an opportunity -- a sacred opportunity -- to show that these words do not hold power over us.
These words meant to force us back into religious compliance only affirm that we are on the right spiritual path.
These words meant to harm can no longer hurt us.
These words are just that -- words with no power.
These words reveal their hatred, not our truth.
Hateful words are transformed into a healing balm that takes no bull.
Now, we are finding our footing again and can begin to climb back up the sacred mountain.
Where the air is lighter, cleaner and indeed sacred.
Join me on this climb.
It’s lovely up here.
God can be found up here.