I’m really drained.
Just really, really tired.
I’ve been blogging almost full time now for two years. I write at least five posts a week, one of which is a column for a bunch of newspapers. I answer emails, I do radio interviews, I write guest posts. And I do not get paid for this (in fact, I actually PAY to have this blog here).
I do this because I’m passionate about marriage. And I hear so many heart-breaking stories everyday from emails. It’s overwhelming.
But today I’m just feeling bogged down because for the last few weeks I have consistently been called “judgmental” in the comments, especially about my columns (the posts that always run on Fridays).
Am I judgmental? I think we all have that tendency, and I certainly do have opinions.
But I’m just exhausted by it. I hate being scared to turn on the computer to see what another commenter has said (and you have no idea how many comments I delete because they’re so vile). I hate being scared to look at the Letters to the Editor in the paper. I’m thinking that a nice, normal life, when I run the youth program at church, and volunteer on a praise team, and make lots of great meals sounds a lot more enticing to me right now.
I know I’m complaining, and I don’t normally do that, but this has been weighing on me for over a year. I honestly don’t know how much more of this I can take, because it turns me inside out when so many people call me judgmental on a daily basis. Everyday when I pray I feel like the focus is just, “Lord, give me the strength to keep going, because I feel so bogged down.” My devotions for the last year have almost been entirely focused on how to put on the armour of God.
When I began blogging I had a choice. I could do the typical “Christian mom blog” where I write about how great God is and how we need to trust Him, and elaborate on how to do that. I could share recipes and parenting ideas and lots of pictures. There are a ton of great blogs out there doing that, and doing it well.
But I’m not that kind of person. I’m really riveted by questions that have no easy answers. In fact, that’s what I found difficult about writing The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex–there are so many areas about sex where I don’t think there are clear answers, and so I tried my best to tackle the hard stuff. And then people started throwing around the “unChristian” label because I wouldn’t clearly condemn some things. And others threw around the “judgmental” label because I said other things may be a bad idea.
Look, this is who I am. I enjoy thinking about things. I get passionate about things. I’m not an even-keel person, and so blogging is a way to get some of those feelings out. And my column–which is NOT a Christian column–is supposed to be an opinion column. I get paid to actually state a firm opinion. I could be wishy washy on this blog and never say anything that people could disagree with, but that sounds rather boring to me, and not all that helpful. Is that really what people want?
I wonder sometimes, because when I do state an opinion, so many people come to the comments here and tell me that I’m being judgmental. I get commenters saying, “I’ve read you for years, but this is too much. Good-bye.” I had one on today’s column below (update: now two)! So all that I’ve done for years doesn’t matter? You disagree on this one thing? That’s certainly your right, but to announce it like that is very hurtful.
Last Saturday, it wasn’t even me people were attacking. They were attacking each other in response to a Reader Question of the Week–and then began telling me I exercised poor judgment by allowing other people to perhaps be judgmental. And then, in the column below, people were calling me judgmental for things that I didn’t say–and then making personal comments about me that aren’t even close to the mark, all while saying I’m the one who is being unChristlike.
So I’m just at a crossroads. I don’t know if I can keep on doing this.
I can keep speaking; I speak at retreats a ton every year, and I find that invigorating. And I can keep writing books. But I don’t know if I can keep opening myself up for this all the time.
I just want to tell you readers that we bloggers are people, too. And I put a ton of time into this blog. I really do. I try to write things that will actually be helpful for marriage, and many of you have said that you really do benefit from it. And blogging will get me more readers than writing books ever will. I have almost 300,000 visitors to this blog a month; I’ll never have that many buying one of my books. So I feel as if this is an effective use of my time for ministry. But it’s exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind disagreements. I remember one post I wrote during my 29 Days to Great Sex where I said I didn’t think it was a good idea to sleep with the kids in the bed. Many got really upset about that, and I deleted a ton of rude comments on that thread. And one long time reader, whom I actually met in person once when I was speaking, disagreed. She did it thoughtfully, and without labeling me judgmental. And then she came back the next day and commented like usual on another item. She didn’t threaten to leave or call me ugly names or question my faith or my parenting abilities. I truly appreciate that.
I am a person, just like all of you. I feel the burdens of the stories so many of you in pain share in comments and emails. I pray over them, and they show how desperate marriages are today. I feel the passion for spreading God’s hope for marriage. But I am exhausted by people yelling at me and sending me hurtful emails and calling me judgmental (it’s interesting that people don’t seem to see the irony in calling someone judgmental for being judgmental).
Bloggers need to have a code of conduct, but I think readers do, too, if you want bloggers to continue to write. It is really hard to open yourself up like this everyday. I’ve shared some of the most personal parts of my heart on this blog, including the story of the last time I saw my son alive. I’ve shared my marriage hardships, and my fears for my kids. I’m an open book. I’ve made myself vulnerable. So would it be okay to ask something in return?
How about this?
Disagreement is fine, but do it in love. And if you’ve read a blogger for a while, and you know his or her heart really is in the right place, then how about giving the benefit of the doubt? Don’t question someone’s motives or faith. Don’t threaten to leave. If you want to leave, you are free to do so. But is it helpful and loving to rub the blogger’s nose in it? Don’t throw around the judgmental label! And every now and then, if you do like something, just say thank you? And if you see a blogger getting beaten up, jump into the comments and just give some support!
Here’s what I’m asking readers to realize: you may disagree with one post, but consider the blog as a whole. If you enjoy the blog as a whole, then please, when you comment on a post, do so in a way that still builds the blogger up. If most of your comments are negative ones, or comments that tear a blogger down, that blogger may one day just give up. And then you won’t get the 90% of the blog that you do agree with.
I have to fill up this space with something; I’ve had almost 1,500 posts on this blog. Chances are you won’t agree with all of them. But to attack me and question my motives and my faith when you don’t agree makes it far less likely that I’ll write anything else. And this goes for every other blogger out there, too.
As for me, I guess I have four choices:
1. Stop publishing my columns on this site. They’re opinion columns, and they’re what usually get people’s blood up. But it seems like a waste to not publish them when I’ve written them.
2. Stop allowing comments. Then I wouldn’t see the negative stuff, and I wouldn’t have to delete so many mean ones.
3. Stop blogging and just write books and speak.
4. Find a way to keep going, and pray for more grace and strength.
I don’t know what the answer is; I’m just really, really tired. And I’m so scared to push publish on this one because I’m not supposed to admit weakness; I’m supposed to be strong and sure of my faith and my stance and confident so that people will like me and perhaps keep following me or buy my books. That’s what marketing experts tell me. But I can’t do that all the time. I am weak. I do question myself. I do get tired. And that’s where I’m at right now.
UPDATE: It’s 11:30 pm now and I’m just checking back at the comments. I’m really overwhelmed. You all brought tears to my eyes (and some really practical suggestions, too, that make me feel like there is a way through this). Thank you so much.