It never is, you know. About four years ago when my blog was fairly new, I offended another Christian blogger, Stephen. Only, at the time of the incident, I didn’t know who he was. I also didn’t realize that he had been a reader for quite some time and an enthusiastic supporter of my blog. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was the collateral damage of one of my personal and public meltdowns. And at the time, I thought, “Hey, what is one screw up? So what? I can’t be perfect all the time! I’m tired of always doing what’s right! I’m tired of these so-called Christians who complain about my style and my personality and yet, don’t do anything themselves to help those who are heading straight for hell!” He got the paw swipe of an angry lion in the middle of a bunch of hyenas. At the time, I experienced a mild tinge of guilt but it quickly went away. I didn’t note his name. Little did I know what would proceed from that one slip of my temper.
About a week later, I saw that an article had been written about me by a Stephen T. McCarthy- an entire article– lambasting me for I knew not what. I went and looked and was shocked at the photoshopped image of ..me!.. on the page. I noted only a few words of the complaint. My embarrassment and anger over the meme (my photo!) and the fact that a Christian had written an entire article against me prohibited me from reading the article at all. I only saw a few words about me not responding to a comment or two and not thanking him for some compliments he had given me. I was outraged. His article was also confusing and a little difficult to read, so I just skimmed it. An entire hate article just because I hadn’t taken the time to thank him for a few comments? ‘Did this man not realize how many comments I got in a day?’ I thought at the time. I was receiving so many for certain articles then that I couldn’t clear them fast enough- they were stacking up!
I saw it as extremely unfair and completely wrong from a fellow Christian. He and his article were giving fodder to atheists and I felt, were weakening the Christian brotherhood at the same time. Christians shouldn’t be tearing each other down in public. “He should have sent me a private message with his grievance, not this.” So I wrote him off. I never connected him with the reader, Stephen, I had yelled at just days before. To me, he had no case.
As I said, it was almost four years ago. However, just a few days ago, I googled ‘short little rebel’ and as usual, there was his article along with many of mine in response to that search term. This time, I thought, “You know, let’s find out what this man’s whole grievance was and see if he had any merit.” It was a prompting of the Holy Spirit. He had never told me what his original grievance was other than the article, which perhaps he thought I would read.
With great difficulty, especially as I saw that he had actually sided with my rapist’s wife and had, apparently, with some glee, posted about my upcoming rape defamation trial on the same article, I finally read the angry article carefully. In it, he said that he had been a long time supporter of mine. That he had told his readers all about me. That he had modeled several articles after one of mine and that he had actually recommended that his readers sign up for my blog. He also said that he had left me several messages to this effect and that I had never acknowledged him, his efforts on my behalf or even offered any gratitude for it. Then, he said, out of left field, when he had slightly differed in opinion from me, when he had dared to even question my opinion, I had called him a ‘loser’ and threw him off my page. He also said I broke my word to him concerning his comment about Obama’s sexuality, that I had purposely misunderstood it, that I promised to post it but then didn’t do it. He also said I changed a comment of his on my blog and thus, ‘defamed’ him. If all this was true, then, I thought, I really did do wrong. My hair was tingling with dread.
So, I went to my comment section and found all his comments. Here are the results: As to the comment concerning Obama: False. I did let his comment stand. He must not have seen it. As to changing his comment: I did. After I wrote an angry response on his hate article, he wrote an angry response to my Project Redemption article (a project where I teach other Christians how to blog successfully for Christ), mocking the number of people who had signed up for it on WordPress. Rather than simply delete the post, I deleted his words and inserted my own words into his comment, making him look stupid. But these words didn’t ‘defame him- they just made him look foolish. (Truth be told, they made me look foolish as well.) But this was wrong and small of me. I was angry that he had written an article against me, but to respond in this tit-for-tat way was just juvenile. So, I apologize to both Stephen and to my Readers.
He said that I didn’t show gratitude for his efforts on my behalf. That stung me a little. I am usually very grateful. The only response I can give is that, had I known or understood the efforts to which Stephen had gone to on my behalf, I would have given him my hearty thanks. But as I didn’t read his comments fully, I didn’t. While I understand that it might hurt his feelings, I didn’t really understand his comments (especially his angry article) very well. Stephen isn’t a bad writer, but I find it difficult to understand what he writes sometimes. I was also skimming through comments at the time. It sufficed to note that he didn’t curse and meant well by his comment. He passed the sniff test for moderation and I posted his comments out of politeness. Had I taken more time to really understand and read more closely, I’m sure I would have understood better, but as it was, I was pressured to moderate so many comments that I couldn’t clear them in a day. So, I think Stephen has to excuse me for not saying, ‘Thank You.’
As to not answering most of his comments, I found that I did respond to at least half of them. Stephen commented on 11 articles I wrote and I responded directly to him on six of them. I don’t think that is a bad return for a blogger to her readers. So, his complaint on that level, can’t really be called ‘untrue’ as it doesn’t really fit the situation, but I would say it was simply ‘unfair’. He also said that I didn’t come and read his blog. That is true, I didn’t. He also claimed that I didn’t really read and comment on the content of some of his lengthier comments. That is also true.
But those are not realistic expectations for any Reader, in my opinion. A blogger can’t be expected to read every Reader’s comments in full (especially if they are long, windy or hard to understand) and can’t be held responsible for reading their Readers’ blogs. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against a writer if I asked them to review my blog and they didn’t. I would assume they didn’t have the time. I don’t believe that a Reader has the right to take umbrage over those any of those things. And, any hurt feelings stemming from these expectations certainly doesn’t give him the right to lambast the blogger with a full blown hate article which shames both her and Christ at the same time, especially if he calls himself a Christian as well.
So, why do I need to apologize to him with an entire article of mine? Because I finally made the connection between him and the ‘Stephen’ in the ‘Love the Sinner..” article. And I saw that he was the one that I had ‘lost it’ on. I really had lost it on him for no reason at all. It was shameful. I did call him a ‘loser’ and he had done nothing wrong to me. Oh! My shame really did spread through my body when I saw that! Truly. All the ugliness that transpired from there on was my fault! What a hard thing to discover!
Stephen has his own sins to deal with in this situation and those are between him and God. But I can’t deny that I started the whole ball rolling. I hate that. And then, to see how I casually laughed him off in my further answer to Vericat! (see below) I thought one person was expendable when I finally lost my temper as a Christian. I never thought to go to that person and apologize- I didn’t feel that person was important enough to reconsider after I had calmed down. Because I thought, “It’s just one person. It’s just one Reader. What difference can that make? I can’t be perfect all the time. God will forgive me.” It is because of that pride, that condescension that I must apologize. My momentary folly resulted in such personal pain- more to me than to Stephen, surely.
God did NOT forgive me as I so blithely thought he would. And clearly, neither did Stephen. And his article has sat there, poking me in the ribs for almost four years! Worse, he even joined up with my worst enemy, my rapist who is now suing me for over 2 million dollars in court for daring to say his name in public. Oh, how evil loves to build upon itself! Do you see? There really are consequences for the careless word.
It’s never just one one careless slip. You can make enemies at the drop of a hat.
Here is what happened that fateful day on March 13, 2013:
I had written one of my most controversial articles of all time, “Love the Sinner, hate the Sin? That’s Not What God or Jesus Did!” Almost as soon as it was posted, it seemed, I was attacked by both atheist and Christian alike. What bothered me most was that it seemed that Christians were attacking most and it seemed that they were intentionally misreading my post. Christians leveled verses at me that implied I had said unbiblical things in my article. Things like, ‘God hates everyone; Jesus said to not forgive anyone; God gave us permission to hate each other; Jesus doesn’t forgive us; etc’. I was frustrated and losing my patience when a supposed pastor accused me of being an angry person for merely writing the article. Coming from a ‘pastor’, I knew it would carry weight and that angered me tremendously, especially as he never spoke to why my article was biblically incorrect. He had just attacked me personally. I called the Pastor a ‘liar’, which was too strong, I admit, but as I said, I was losing my cool at the time. Stephen’s was the very next comment. And he was questioning my choice of word, ‘liar’. It was the last stroke for me. I couldn’t stand one more person judging the article based on my personality or how I was behaving in the comment section! I lost my temper. See below:
As you can see, I even knew I was doing wrong- I said it in the comment, ” Your motive is just anger and frustration- as is mine right now. Only, I don’t try to HIDE it. Not like you and your ilk do.” I knew I was wrong and admitted that I was acting out of ‘frustration and anger’, but at the time, (I remember this now) I thought, “For once! I get to be mean just like everyone else!! How’s it feel, People??”
And, as you can also see, Vericat is delicately trying to get me to destress a few minutes later, only I didn’t take the hint- though clearly I understood her. I said, “lol! Yes, yell at people sometimes! works wonders. lol!” and I proceeded to continue my fit with several more commenters on the article. Not my best day for sure. It shames me to tell you the truth.
So, you can see that I used Stephen as a punching bag and didn’t regret it. He thought I remembered him as the guy who left all those comments- but I didn’t. I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t care. It led to his angry blog and him hooking up with my rapist’s wife- also to his vengeful reference to my anguishing rape defamation trial on his site (which hurt me doubly).
It was immature, foolish, weak, stupid, bad, embarrassing, and worst of all, a distraction from Christ. James, Jesus’ brother wrote:
“16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
So, I apologize to Stephen McCarthy, a fellow Christian, and I apologize to my readers. Every reader counts; every person counts. When we lash out, we are not being wise. When we lash out, we create anger in the world. When we lash out, we are taking away from the kingdom of God. And when we lash out, we should take the time to say, “I’m sorry,” right away. You know, I had to just laugh a little at myself the other night when I discovered all this. For four years, I had blamed this man. And all along, at the very bottom of the pit of this problem lay the tiny seed of my pride, anger and fear. I might have been bitter except for the Holy Spirit leading me wisely to this apology and blog post. “Learn,” said He. “Teach,” said He.
And so. Here you have the fruits of that good advice. And now, finally, I am forgiven by God. It is a weight lifted.