Last night I received some harsh criticism concerning my blog and upcoming book. This wasn’t the first negative feedback I’ve received and it certainly won’t be the last.
This person said how I’ve changed in the last few years and I’m no longer the “sweet little Emily everyone once loved and admired” but instead I’ve lost their and other people’s respect by turning into “an advocate with an attitude that seemingly can’t move on from the past”. Their words stung. A lot. I can’t deny that my eyes have burned with tears in the hours since this painful comment was made.
One of the reasons their words hurt so much is the fact they are partially true. I used to be much more complaisant. I used to be quieter and terribly afraid of conflict or of taking a misstep. I am a natural born rule follower and I would much rather put up and shut up than to defend someone else or myself.
And then this morning I remembered something. Jesus wasn’t all rainbows and roses and kindness and gentleness. He turned over temple tables in a rage. He fashioned a whip for brandishing greedy men. He called bearers of lies “vipers”. He defended a prostitute by attacking the judgmental Pharisees.
Jesus spoke truth which was seen as outlandish by traditionalists. He was a revolutionary for His time. He stirred up the pot of legalistic rituals and spoke of radical love and grace instead.
Jesus was an advocate. And perhaps even with a little attitude.
My primary reason for existing, and what has been commissioned to me, is to love people like Jesus and spread His Good News. I believe this means sometimes voicing unpopular opinions and throwing a wrench into some people’s traditions. I believe this means that I take a stand for the weak, the hurt, and the oppressed. It means I share the brutal truth of my story, in the hopes that it will help someone else.
Sharing my story doesn’t mean I’m bitter or can’t move on from the past. It means I believe that lessons from the past can hold the key to present and future freedom. It means I’m willing to be vulnerable and take off the mask of perfectionism and complacency. It means I believe the best way to redeem painful experiences is to shout Jesus’s grace from the roof-tops.
Am I perfect? Goodness gracious no. I still have SO much to learn, so much kindness and patience to develop, and so much truth to engrave into my heart. I am a work in progress.
A journalist recently wrote an article with a bit of my story in it and, after getting to know me for a week, she wrote: “Emily’s outer persona is joy in the face of sorrow…she brought to mind the “unsinkable Molly Brown” of Titanic fame. She is indomitable. Irrepressible. She embodies grace and inner strength, and she makes everyone smile who crosses her path.”
So yes, I am no longer sweet little Emily, for that girl was just a shell; she hid a lot of pain and sorrow.
Instead I am an advocate with an attitude.
And hopefully, this means I’m just a little bit more like Jesus.