I did something on Sabbath this week that I usually don’t allow myself. I looked at my emails. I normally take a once-a-week Sabbath from the internet but that flashing green light on my phone was wooing me to open and take a peek.
And truthfully, I was receiving comments on a blog post that were making my heart swoon. When someone writes to tell you that they are in the midst of a vigil awaiting the death of a loved one and your words were a source of encouragement, well, that is a gift a writer cannot assign value.
But in the midst of the kind generosity from several, rejection slipped in awaiting my click. The absolute worst email I’ve received from someone directed toward my writing. Editors will affirm I like constructive criticism and enjoy the editing process because it makes me a better writer. And I have yet to find a downside to better. You?
But this wasn’t that kind of criticism, it was personal.
Reading aloud from my warm spot in bed while H was nearby in the next room, I couldn’t finish for the emotion that swelled up in my throat. I can’t comprehend why people make conscience decisions to compose snarky personal criticism toward a stranger. Perhaps it’s easier to be mean spirited when detached emotionally from people. Ya think?
As a blogger, I know I’m fortunate when it comes to receiving callous narcissistic feedback. I have friends with large platforms who testify about careless words hurled like flying daggers for sport on a regular basis. Can I tell you how much this grieves me?
H told me to delete the email from my phone. When I didn’t to it immediately, he took the phone out of my hands and did it himself. “You don’t need to read that again, period,” he insisted.
Later that morning, while reading the first few verses from Luke 8, something stood out to me that I normally would’ve passed over. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
It was the part about Joanna that snagged my curiosity. She was married to Chuza, the steward of domestic affairs for Herod Antipas, the same Herod responsible for the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. She was travelling with Jesus and the disciples, supporting him through her wealth.
It seems Jesus often picks the most unlikely people to advance the Kingdom. Unlikely people like us.
As leaders, we cannot handpick our followers. It is the Holy Spirit that woos people toward the message we are called to share from the lens of our experience and unique makeup. We are not called for applause from the masses but to steward the message of Christ. He is in charge of outcomes, not us.
Jesus says if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (9:23)
Sometimes that means rejection by the very people we expect to embrace us. (9:5) Even Jesus was rejected by those most likely to follow Him.(9:22)
Now when people ask me, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I respond with the same answer. We are all spiritually bankrupt in need of a Savior. Goodness isn’t a measure of worth.
And I won’t be reading emails on Sabbath this week, in case you were wondering.