About three years ago, I had my first experience with online haters.
I had written an article for a popular parenting site and was thrilled about it; it was my first attempt at pitching my writing to a major publication, and they accepted and published it almost immediately. Such a big deal!
The idea for the article came to me when one of my daughters told me that it stressed her out when I text her with a lot of punctuation. My other daughters agreed. Texts like, “Where are you?!” or “Call me!!” made them think they were in trouble. It was an enlightening conversation.
Was it just my kids who felt this way? I decided to find out, so I interviewed a bunch of high school and college students and learned all sorts of things parents did text-wise that teens didn’t love (or that they found hilarious). I wrote the article. It was funny and harmless and informative. Or so I thought.
Once it published, the editors also linked to it on the site’s Facebook page. It began getting hundreds of views. And then…the comments started. More and more and more of them every day. Eventually hundreds of comments. Mean ones. Hurtful ones. About me, and about my daughters.
People were saying I was a terrible mom, and that if my kids were that sensitive about punctuation, they needed therapy. People chastising me for wasting their time by writing about something so stupid. People saying I needed a backbone and that I should never change the way I text in order to better communicate with my kids. On and on.
Each time I read a new, unkind comment, my stomach clutched. My happy little victory had turned stressful. I began to feel bad about myself and my parenting.
Of course, some people posted nice comments, but I was so distraught about allllllll the bad ones that I couldn’t focus on the good.
I like writing from a personal standpoint, and in ways that can help other people. Have you ever heard people talk about how to find your passion? They say to think of the thing you can do for hours and hours and totally get lost in it. That’s your passion. Maybe it’s gardening, or cooking, or something else. Mine is writing in a personal way that connects with people.
But. Maybe this type of writing (that I absolutely loved) wasn’t my path. Maybe I should stick to my corporate communications career, not put myself out there, not get lost in my writing for hours and hours, not try to get published anymore. If I had this many haters over something so harmless, what was next?
And then I stepped back. And I remembered. Those critics didn’t matter. God is in charge.
God is my Guide, and He is the one I listen to.
Not my haters. I felt deep in my soul that “my” type of writing pleased Him. And I knew I needed to continue with it.When I remember to trust God as my Guide, my path becomes clear. Click To Tweet
My life was changing, and I was moving toward what I knew was the right path for me. I just needed to focus on that, and shut out the negative. God would be there to guide me as I navigated this new world. He is the presence that grounds us and keeps us steady, as long as we listen to Him. I remind myself,
“…that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.” Psalm 48:14 (ESV)
A few months later, they republished the “texting with teens” article. I peeked at the Facebook page. Yep, there it was, linked again. More than 50 comments already. My eyes widened. And then I smiled and clicked out of the page, without reading one of them.
Since then, I have written two more articles—much more personal—for that site. I don’t read the comments. I do read the private messages I receive, from people thanking me for my honesty. Telling me I helped them.
And then I thank God, my Guide, who helped me.Critics can tear you down if you let them. Don’t let them. Follow your intuition and trust the Word of God. Click To Tweet