I’m totally clear that there are those in certain settings who find my overt commentary on my Christian faith and its role in my navigation of motherhood and such, at the very least, uncomfortable, and at the most, deeply disturbing. One commenter here on MBB alluded to the fact that my “bible-thumping” pretty much makes anything I say inconsequential.
Now I could lie to you and say that these thoughts, feelings, and comments don’t bother me. That I’m singing “I shall not, I shall not be moved” and any other hymn I can think of even as those who don’t “get it” sharpen their internet weaponry.
Nope, I’m certainly not immune to the darts and foolery that come my way. It hurts sometimes.
Because here’s the truth: I want readers to like me. I don’t set out to or desire to offend. It’s both the rock and the hard place that comes with being a writer, I suppose. A part of you needs (wants?) validation. Because of course, a writer needs readers. The feedback of readers matter. If it didn’t, we would only write for ourselves. We wouldn’t publish our work in forums like this one. But we do. So it does. To an extent.
I recognize that there is a kind of fragility to this faith walk… even when I’m most fierce in my expression of it. And I don’t apologize for that all. As the tagline of my personal blog, In Search of His Face, implies, I rock a “tilted halo” regularly. There’s levels to this brokenness. LOL!
Here’s an example: I’m often afraid to write things like, “God said to me…” or “Jesus showed up…” Standard jargon in church circles, but spooky-weird or borderline proselytizing in secular ones. In fact, I hesitated to even type them just now. Because as someone who writes in both faith-based and secular markets, I know how polarizing Christianity can be nowadays. Some people’s only point of reference for my faith is some bootleg charlatan preacher with the $100 “seed” line on television or so-called “Christian” conservatives who are really pushing a money-driven, right-wing political agenda more than any system of morality.
This saddens me. Because there is so much more. So much more love and grace and strength and…well, all the stuff I see and write about.
But don’t get it twisted. My hesitations, my fragile fierceness doesn’t change why or what I write. I write the “Faith and Motherhood” column because my belief system…yes, my faith…is the lens through which I see my entire life but more specifically, my ability to mother this beautiful little girl of mine. I live at the intersection of faith and motherhood and sometimes it’s a glorious place and other times, it’s incredibly frustrating. But trust…just because faith in Jesus is my lens and say, someone else’s might be Buddha or the Universe or whatever, does not in any way, shape or form make my lens cloudy. It certainly doesn’t make my perspective less intellectual, less “down for the cause,” less politically or socially aware, or less anything else I’ve heard. For the purposes of what I write, it only makes it—mine. And yours, if you subscribe to it. But it’s okay if you don’t.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about my sweet baby girl who will likely go to schools where hopefully her fellow students will be from all different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. A toddler who loves to sing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of her lungs when we go to the grocery or to the mall and who loves going to church school on Sunday morning while her Mommy and Daddy sits in “big church” to get a word for themselves. How do I help her navigate her own fiercely fragile faith?
I want to teach MaKayla to stand on what she believes and be unashamed of what she believes but also to respect the people around her who might believe differently. When the time comes, I certainly want her to be okay with wrestling with her faith and theology, as well as be able to hold her own if she finds herself in the middle of a reasonable dialogue and/or discussion about religion and faith. But, just like in my own world, it’s not the reasonable dialogues or the challenging questions I’m too concerned about.
It’s the trolls.
Still, I want to teach her how to NOT internalize the darts that will inevitably be thrown at her no matter how grace-filled her words are, by people who will only hear the name of Jesus and will run for the hills (as opposed to employing the same open-mindedness they often demand from people of faith) or grab their word bullets.
Hmmm…maybe the answer to all of this is found in teaching her to BE Christ to people instead of just TALKING Christ to people.
And if that doesn’t work she can always cut…
Wait…there goes that “tilted halo” again.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.