3 Reasons Rachel Rocks

Transient

Hi, it's Rachel's husband Dan. She doesn't (yet) know I wrote this. She's actually taking a shower right now. She'll probably wish I didn't say that, but it's true. After already working through a sizable "To Do" list this morning Rachel is now "getting ready for the day" (that's a phrase we use a lot around here).

I thought I would take a couple minutes and tell you a few reasons why Rachel is awesome.

1) She's a great leader

Leadership is a responsibility that changes hands depending on roles, tasks and situations. When it's Rachel's turn to take the lead on something, I can always trust her to do a great job.

My wife's career decisions aren't simple little hobbies she entertains herself with. "Writer" and "Blogger" are two of many important roles Rachel embodies. These two in particular directly contribute to our income and livelihood.

Guess what? She does a great job.

2) She's passionate about other women succeeding

Rachel knows that women in leadership roles are in difficult positions. That's why she often writes for them and roots for them.  I'm proud of her for it.

If you don't think women deal with a double standard, especially in churches, you're probably a guy. I know because I'm a guy and for most of my life I didn't really give that sort of thing a second thought.

Watching how her critics have responded to Rachel over the last few months has been a revealing experience for me. I'm now convinced that all it takes to be "controversial" or "divisive" in our shared evangelical sub-culture is to relay slightly uncomfortable facts to a moderately sized audience while simultaneously possessing a vagina.

3) She's smart, kind, strong, feisty and gentle all rolled into one

  • The mountain of research Rachel processes for each of her projects (or sometimes just a single blog post) is incredible.
  • She's an encourager.
  • She gets excited about other people's ideas and successes.
  • She roots for the underdogs of life and she has a soft heart for the misfit.
  • She's strong, but not calloused.
  • She's impassioned when challenging an idea and gentle when challenging people.

These balances aren't easy to maintain but she does so with grace.

***

I say all of this because Rachel is my wife, my partner, and my teammate.

You don't hear from me often because most of what I do is behind the scenes. But today I wanted to state publicly so there's no misunderstanding:

I have Rachel's back and I'm doing everything in my power to make sure her voice is heard.

That's what teammates do.

comments

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/3-reasons-rachel-rocks

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

10 Cool Things We’ve Done in 1,000 Posts

Well, today marks our 1,000th post!  If we were all gathered together in a room, I’d be pouring each of you a glass of champagne to celebrate. 

...Actually I wouldn’t. That would be super-expensive. This is better. 

When I look back on nearly four years of blogging, the posts that mattered the most to me are the ones that were collaborative, the ones we created together. And so in that spirit, here are ten cool things we’ve done together in 1,000 posts: 

10. We rallied to restore unity. 

Last year, around the time Jon Stewart held his Rally to Restore Sanity, John Piper “farwelled” Rob Bell, and Stephen Colbert hosted his Rally to Keep Fear Alive, we hosted our own response to the increasing theological and political polarization online: The Rally to Restore Unity. You guys made hundreds of signs for our photo collages and wrote hundreds of blog posts for our synchroblog. The results were laugh-out-loud funny, touching, challenging, and bizarre...just what the internet needed at the time.  See the Rally Round-Up here

9. We raised over $5,000 for Charity:Water. 

As a result of the Rally to Restore Unity and a fundraiser for my 30th birthday, together we raised more than $5,000 to benefit Charity:Water. This was enough to fund two major water projects in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. According to the latest update from Charity:Water, our contributions have been invested with Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Ethiopia and Concern Worldwide in Sierra Leone. The funds will be used to build and rehabilitate freshwater wells and spring protections for people in need and will help provide information about safe hygiene practices and forming local Water Committees to look after the projects when they're finished. According to Charity:Water, we will receive a complete report - including GPS coordinates, photos, and stories  - of the finished water projects before the end of the year! I can’t wait to share that with you. 

8. We honored women of valor. 

Transient

A single mom. A feisty professor. A midwife. A foster parent. An abuse survivor. A brave grandmother. A master seamstress.  A young Ugandan woman who reached out to a sister in need.  

We have honored these women of valor and will continue to honor them in what has become one of my favorite series on the blog.  Eshet chayil—woman of valor— has long been a blessing of praise in the Jewish community. Husbands often sing the line from Proverbs 31 to their wives at Sabbath meals. Women cheer one another on through accomplishments in homemaking, career, education, parenting, and justice by shouting a hearty “eshet chayil!” after each milestone.  Great women of the faith, like Sarah and Ruth and Deborah, are identified as women of valor.  One of my goals after completing my year of biblical womanhood was to “take back” Proverbs 31 as a blessing, not a to-do list, by identifying and celebrating women of valor. To help me in this, you submitted nearly 100 essays to our Women of Valor essay contest. There were so many essays that made me laugh, cry, and think I decided that, in addition to the eight winners of the contest, we would feature more of your essays in a Women of Valor series on Saturdays that will carry us through the end of the year.  

Best of all, the original series helped promote the great work of  Hill Country Hill Tribers, a non-profit helping Burmese refugee women in Austin earn supplemental income and learn marketable skills. 

Check out the entire Women of Valor series so far.  

7. We made a few posts go “viral.” 

Most notably: 

(See other popular posts.)

6. We shared the platform with other voices. 

I believe that once you build a platform, you have a responsibility to share it, and we’ve been blessed with some of the most amazing guest posts over the years. I especially appreciate those posts that challenge me to see the world, and the Church, from a new perspective. Some recent contributions to this conversation include Grace Biskie’s plea to engage in racial reconciliation, Erin Thomas’ story of what it’s like to be a person of faith with Asperger's Syndrome, Aric Clark’s defense of the passionate Mainline,  Dianna Anderson’s explanation of what feminism is not, and Registered Runaway’s heartbreaking post about what happened when his father learned he was gay.  I have learned so much from our guest posters through the years and am grateful for their contributions. 

5. We interviewed a whole bunch of interesting people.

Perhaps the most popular recurring series on the blog has been our “Ask a...” series. Again, this represents a collaborative effort, as the interview questions are always yours! We’ve interviewed an atheist, a nun, a gay Christian,  a funeral director, a pacifist, an indigenous theologian,  a Pentecostal, a Mennonite, an evolutionary creationist, an Orthodox Jew, a Mormon, and more. The resulting dialogs represent some of the most productive and civil conversations on the blogosphere. 

Check out the entire series

4. We sponsored more than 20 Bolivian children through World Vision 

Transient

When I traveled to Bolivia with World Vision last year to see what child sponsorship looks like on the ground, I admit I was skeptical. But armed with questions you submitted via the blog and a notebook in which I scribbled notes like a reporter, I came to see just how powerful and life-changing child sponsorship can be. As a result, the Bolivia Bloggers trip generated over 120 child sponsorships, more than 20 of which came from you. You can see all the Bolivia posts here

3.  We  wrestled with tough questions of faith together.

We talked about the slippery slope, about being caught in between liberal Christianity and conservative Christianity, about Calvinism, about washing the feet of our LGBT brothers and sisters, about creation and evolution, about doubt, about “Love Wins,” about following Jesus, about how to love the Bible for what it is not what we want it to be.

I confessed my fears of motherhood (the comment section after that one is perhaps my favorite ever), my struggle to find identity in the Christian “industry,” my not-so-holy Holy Week, my mistakes, my questions, my April Fools jokesmy joys

You listened. You debated. You asked questions. You contributed. You pushed back. You gave me permission. You left comments that I printed up and hung on my wall. There are conversations that happened on this blog that changed my perspective on life forever. I hope you can say the same. 

2.  We stood up for gender equality in the Church. 

There are folks who don’t like the fact that we talk about this on the blog, and no doubt it has cost me some readers, but in spite of all the criticism (some of it deserved), I am incredibly proud of the way we have stood up for gender equality in the Church.  This is no easy conversation to have, but it’s an important one. 

I am glad that we stood up to The Gospel Coalition and Doug Wilson’s damaging language regarding women and sex.  I am glad we responded to John Piper’s call for a “masculine Christianity” with a beautiful celebration of women in the Church. I have heard from many women who have told me that our boldness in these contexts has given them the courage they need to speak up in situations where their voices have been drowned out or, in some cases, silenced. 

By far the most rewarding week of my blogging career was Mutuality 2012, when I did my best to make a case for gender equality  in the home and  Church, drawing support from Scripture, reason, tradition, and the example of Christ. With your help, I addressed Genesis 1-3, the Peter and Paul and the Greco-Roman household codes, misconeptions regarding egalitarianism, the problems of patriarchy, and those difficult passages about Ephesian women teaching and leading men. The week included a synchroblog that added many of your voices to the conversation, and the comment section that week was packed with its usual gems--from Hebrew scholars, to experts on Greco-Roman culture, to women pastors, to moms and dads who just want to make the Church a more hospitable environment for their daughters. 

I printed my favorite comment from the week, (posted after MImi Haddad’s interview), on a piece of paper and hung it above my desk: 

"I'm sitting at my desk reading this response after a very busy, tiring day of work. And I have tears in my eyes. To think that I, as a woman, am equal. To think that I, as a woman, am a reflection of my Creator. To think that I, as a woman, have God-given(!) gifts to serve AND to lead. And to think that God (my Creator) and Jesus (my Savior) actually care about the all of the wounds that feel so raw, that They (and even others I've encountered here) care about justice for a woman like me. I don't know how to explain this and please forgive me if it makes sense only to me: I feel like a woman whose dignity is being restored word by word by word in this beautiful series. And God Himself is restoring it. I feel myself literally sitting taller in my chair as I write these lines."

That one comment made every day of blogging prior to it totally worth it. 

1. We created a safe place for “travelers” to talk. 

In my very first blog post, dated December 28, 2007 and entitled “Traveling Mercies for the Consummate Ass,” I wrote this: 

"Spiritual pride is always a temptation for the believer, and I sincerely hope it is avoided on this blog. No one's journey is the same. There is much to learn from one another. So instead, I would like this little spot on the Web to serve as a sort of traveler's forum, a place for exchanging adventure stories, survival tips, and those priceless hole-in-the-wall recommendations that make a journey memorable. I look forward to sharing my own ideas, and I look forward to hearing from you."

I am grateful beyond words to have travelled these 1,000 posts with you. You have made this blog what it is, and despite its faults, I think we can be proud of it. 

Here’s to 1,000 more! 

***

To celebrate, I’m giving away three advance review copies of A Year of BIblical Womanhood!  To enter, leave  a  comment indicating about  how long  you’ve been reading the blog and, (if you can think of one), a link or reference to your favorite post. (You can search here.)  I'll randomly choose 3 winners to receive a copy of my new book and a thank-you note. **Contest will run today only, September 24, through 11:59 p.m. EST**)

***

Update: Congrats to Bob Keeley, Janet, and Stephanie Crabtree - winners of the review copy of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood"! (Selected via random.org.) And thank you all for your incredibly kind comments. Brought tears to my eyes.

Comment thread is now closed. 

comments

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/1000-post

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

Christian bookstores and their chokehold on the industry

A lot of folks have been expressing outrage and surprise over the fact that LifeWay Christian bookstores recently banned the movie "The Blind Side" from their shelves due to language and objectionable content.  The 2009 biographical film about a black high school student adopted by a white Christian family is rated PG-13 and became something of an evangelical darling when it released, receiving endorsements from Christianity Today and Focus on the Family.

But Florida pastor Rodney Baker of Hopeful Baptist Church submitted a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention, demanding that LifeWay pull the film. Lifeway bowed to the pressure from Baker, and removed the movie from their shelves—a response that Baker saw as obedient yielding to the Holy Spirit. "Thank you,” he said “for listening to the voices of the overwhelming majority of Florida Baptist Convention messengers, the voice of this resolution, and above all the voice of the Holy Spirit to remove 'The Blind Side' from Lifeway Christian Book Stores.” 

As the Christian Post reports, Baker still intends to submit the resolution the convention as a way of "sending a message about LifeWay and the content of its products."

Those of you who followed “vaginagate”—in which I was asked to remove the word “vagina” from my upcoming book in deference to Christian bookstore standards—will know that I’m not at all surprised by this story.

Christian bookstores have developed a reputation for producing a highly sanitized customer experience, purging from their shelves any language, content, or theology that doesn’t meet their uber-conservative standards.  Walk into your local LifeWay and you will find plenty of Precious Moments statues, specialty Bibles, Veggie Tale movies, and Thomas Kinkade prints...but little trace of art or literature that intrigues, agitates, and inspires—as true art should!  The Christian bookstore experience is, in a word, safe. Butsafe is not how Christians are called to live, and safe is not what artists who are Christians are called to create.  In fact, based on LifeWay’s own standards, the Bible itself—which includes profanity, violence, and sex—should be banned from the shelves. 

What most people don’t realize, however, is that the problem of sanitized Christian bookstores extends far beyond the inventory on the shelves to create an entire Christian subculture that is so sanitized and safe it often fails to produce art that is relevant to our culture or our lives.  

 Now I’m going to say something that will probably get me into some trouble, something that many editors and writers are afraid to say for fear of losing their jobs or their book contracts, but something which desperately needs to be spoken out loud:  Christian bookstores have a chokehold on the Christian publishing industry.  And this chokehold not only affects the inventory you find on Christian bookstore shelves, but which books are contracted by publishers, what content gets edited in the writing and editing process, and the degree of freedom authors feel they have to speak on their own blogs and platforms.  As a result, the entire Christian industry has been sanitized, while its best artists look elsewhere for publication. 

Some examples: 

I have a friend who wrote a book proposal for a memoir. The pitch was strong, the writing impeccable, the content real and heartbreaking and true.  But this friend was part of a blended family that included a gay couple with whom she had a good relationship. The proposal was turned down by Christian publishers who feared they couldn’t get this important part of her story through the Christian bookstore gatekeepers. Why even publish a book that can’t be sold to one of the industry’s most important retailers? 

If an author makes it through that first gate, he or she then has to deal with the second gate: edits. As Caryn Rivadeneira divulged in her article for Her.Meneutics entitled,  “When Christian Bookstores Ban Female Body Parts,” nearly every author who has worked in the Christian publishing industry has a story to tell. 

“For me, it was the word crap,” she wrote. “Later, it was the phrase darn it. Darn it. For another friend, it was her dream of drinking champagne in a bubbly tub. Yet another friend had trouble mentioning drinking wine, location unknown.  And for yet another, it was walking into a sex shop that did it. What are these things, you wonder? Why the language and talk of such unmentionables, perhaps you want to know? Well, these are the words or events we had to edit out so that certain Christian bookstores would stock our books.”

So if an author makes it through Round 1 to actually get published, she has to then make it through Round 2 in which her content is subjected to edits, which—trust me—most editors in the Christian publishing industry aren’t thrilled to have to make but which are influenced by the standards of Christian bookstores. For A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I had to take out words like “hell,” “damn,” and “kick-ass,” and make some minor adjustments to content. (Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was allowed to keep. My team at Thomas Nelson really has been amazing; they “get” this project and have helped me preserve the true heart of the book, for which I am incredibly grateful.)  After a bit of a kerfuffle, I got to keep “vagina,” but with no promise that the book will be featured prominently on Christian bookstore shelves.

Of course, many writers, after experiencing the editing process, learn to simply adjust their writing with the first draft to measure up to Christian bookstore standards. Others purposely put in content they know will get scrapped in hopes it will help them keep less edgy, though still controversial, material. It’s a system you learn to work. And it's highly subjective. 

Next comes Round 3, in which authors and publishers wait to see if Christian bookstores will carry the book. This is where authors with “questionable” theological content often get the boot...or, famously, a “Read With Discernment” sticker. But even then, as we’ve seen this week, your product is just one protest away from getting pulled from shelves. 

Caryn’s post generated quite the conversation among authors, and included a comment from the author of a historical novel that depicted scenes from the slave trade of the 1700s. “I had a description of the slaves torn from their homes, kidnapped and sold to slavers, and crammed aboard their ships to be hauled away to the Colonies,” the author wrote. “ In describing the scene, and referring objectively to ‘nakedness’  the publisher and copy editors had no problem as the narrative could have been in a 7th grader's history book. However a woman from a Christian bookstore in Orange County, Calif. called the publisher to take them out of the 1,000-plus bookstore chain that she was one store's manager. The ruckus resulted in the entire first printing of my book was pulled from all of the chain's stores. Ironically, there was a moderate cuss word that nobody had fault with. Go figure.” 

Crazy, right? 

But what is perhaps most disturbing about this whole culture is the pervasive, stifling fear it has created among writers, editors, and publishers. I have spoken to former editors who left Christian publishing because they were exhausted from living with the fear that they would be fired for sticking their necks out and championing “edgy” projects. I know authors who are afraid to share their egalitarian views on their blogs because they might lose their book contracts. I too have hesitated before being honest about my views on gender, politics, and homosexuality for fear of repercussions. No one seems to like that the industry is this way, but many are just too afraid to challenge it. 

For all the amazing people who work in Christian publishing, and for all the amazing books they produce every year, there is this undercurrent of fear and insecurity that undoubtedly stifles our collective creativity. And this fear and insecurity is a direct result of the unreasonable standards held up by Christian bookstores. 

But here's the thing...

Christians are not called to create a subculture untouched by the beauty and ugliness of this worldNo, Christians are called to speak the truth, even when it is uncomfortable....especiallywhen it is uncomfortable. 

Yes, people pray, and yes, people move to Amish country to bake pies and marry that quiet farmer who reads his Bible every morning.  

But people also sin. People doubt. People die. People cuss. People find God in messy situations and in untidy relationships.

People are gay. People are divorced. People drink alcohol.  People live in bodies that have skin and bones, and, like it or not, penises and vaginas.

People think differently than one another. People interpret the Bible differently than one another. People interact with God differently than one another. People argue politics and theology and sports and art with one another.  

People experience mystery. People experience truth. People experience loss. People experience redemption. People experience unhappy endings.  

Sometimes that quiet farmer who reads his Bible every morning abuses his kids when he gets angry. Sometimes people who claim to follow Jesus trade naked human beings for money. Sometimes loving your neighbors means breathing in the smoke of their cigarettes and learning some new vocabulary. Sometimes loving Jesus means unapologetically identifying everything else— your wealth, your fame, your reputation— as shit compared to knowing Him (Philippians 3:8). 

And the minute we try to codify these messy Christian lives that we live, the minute we try to sanitize and apologize for them, we lose not only our relevance, but our soul. 

We don’t have to be unnecessarily crass to speak the truth, but we have to be honest. We have to be real.  Most of all, we cannot live in fear. 

I’m not sure how to remedy the chokehold Christian bookstores have on the Christian publishing industry. But I suspect it begins by doing the one thing we writers, editors, and publishers feel we have been forbidden from doing for so long: speak the truth

comments

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/christian-bookstores-chokehold

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

10 Tips for Dealing with Online Criticism

'Bâillement hystérique' photo (c) 2011, Bibliothèque de Toulouse - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/

Each week, I receive between 400-700 comments on the blog, a small percentage of which are critical. Every day, one or two people will take to Twitter, Facebook, or their own blogs to tell me I’m doing something wrong.  As someone who has always struggled to receive criticism graciously, without throwing things, blogging has been an instructive endeavor, a refining fire of sorts. And so, for those of you who find yourself in heated conversations online, I offer a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Wait. No criticism seems constructive at first, so step away from the computer before responding. Go on a run, practice centering prayer, throw something across the room, hang out with friends, bake a freaking cake if you have to. Then, when you come back, the constructive criticisms will surface as such, and you can respond with openness and grace instead of getting defensive. 

2. Engage the positive. If, out of 200 comments, 199 are positive, encouraging, and constructive to the conversation, and 1 is negative, my natural tendency is to go to bed that night stewing over the single negative comment.  (Same goes for book reviews. If, out of 70 Amazon reviews, 68 are 4-5 stars, you better believe I’m going to click on the two three-star review to see what the heck that’s all about.) This is human nature, of course, but what I’ve been telling myself lately is it’s not fair to the 199 readers who took the time and effort to add something personal, thoughtful, wise, and encouraging to the conversation when I only remember and engage that single negative comment. I am essentially giving the one negative person more power than the other 199 people combined! When I allow myself to be as connected and engaged with the positive comments as I am with the negative comments, it’s amazing how my attitude changes. Suddenly I become deeply appreciative of my readers, ready to engage in the most constructive elements of the conversation. I go from being Cruella de Vil to Ann Voskamp in a matter of seconds. 

3. Don’t feed the trolls. A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore who lives in rocks and caves and is at enmity with mankind.  A troll is also an angst-ridden 18-year-old who dumps nasty comments on your blog that are so mean, so off-topic, and so totally out of left field, they’re not worth engaging. These comments are meant to incite discord, and often they work. As a blogger, the very worst thing you can do is encourage this sort of behavior by arguing with a troll. My advice is to delete trollish comments right away before they hijack the conversation. Remember, no one has a “right” to post on your blog. It’s your space; you want to make it as welcoming to guests as possible, and sometimes that means sending the drunk uncle out the back door. 

'Troll of Norway' photo (c) 2009, christoph.grothaus - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

4. Leave space in your heart and mind for constructive criticism.  Like it or not, sometimes your critics are right. Sometimes they see something in your attitude, your assumptions, or your position that needs adjusting. Through the years, my readers have pointed out several blind spots in my life, and I am incredibly grateful for that. 

5. “Always assume there is someone in the room who knows more about the topic at hand than you do.” I put this in quotes because it’s something Dan always says. (Dan’s a super-smart guy, by the way. In fact, I daresay he’s likely to be the person in the room who knows more about the topic at hand than you do.) In addition to leaving space in your heart, mind, and blog for constructive criticism, be sure to leave space for folks with more expertise to refine and augment your ideas. When I first started blogging, I felt like I had to be the authority on everything I wrote about, and when that authority was “questioned” by someone who knew more about the issue than I did,  I freaked out. I got defensive. Now, after a few years of trial and error, and after realizing my readership includes astrophysicists, anthropologists, Hebrew scholars, actual pastors, and actual parents, I’ve learned to step back and learn from the best. Your goal as a blogger is to START conversations, not finish them. Now I consider it an honor to have people who are significantly smarter than me weigh in in the comment section. In fact, one thing I love about our online community is that the comment section is often a better read than the original post! 

6. Memorize this prayer from St. Teresa of Avila. I say it almost daily. 

7. Disarm critics by being nicer than they expect you to be. Once, a blogger writing for a complementarian organization wrote a scathing critique of my next book....back before I’d even sent the final manuscript to the publisher! The article included several factual errors and a lot of assumptions about my motives for taking on the year of biblical womanhood project. I was mad at first, but then I realized that the woman writing the piece, and the readers chiming in in disgust, were simply defending against what they perceived to be an attack on their lifestyle and choices. No wonder they were upset. So I left a gentle, gracious comment correcting the article’s mistakes, apologizing for not making myself more clear, and clarifying my intentions in taking on the project. It was amazing to watch as the tone of the comments took a dramatic turn for the positive. You never lose ground by being kind. If anything, you give yourself a better chance at actually being heard. 

8. Apologize. I’ve felt compelled to issue an apology a couple of times on the blog, and often in the comment section....because, you know, sometimes I’m wrong...and mean.  

9.  Ask yourself why some criticisms hurt and others don’t. Criticism can play an instructive role in your life when you pay close attention to your reaction to it. For example, I am not at all phased by an email informing me that I am headed straight for hell for believing in evolution and “worshipping at the monkey god’s feet.” (Actual email, folks.) Why not? Well, because I know for a fact I do not worship a monkey god, (except during the new moon festival, of course), and because I am not afraid of going to hell for believing in evolution. (Maybe I should be, but I’m not.) However, a comment critiquing my writing style or challenging me for struggling to find a church will send me to my pouting chair in a matter of seconds. Why? Because I am insecure about my writing and about my search for a faith community. Those critiques touch on actual fears, actual frustrations. They hit closer to home. So if you want to learn something about yourself, pay attention to the criticisms that affect you most deeply, and make an effort to start praying through those insecurities and fears. 

'Monkey God Hanuman' photo (c) 2010, Craig Conley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

10. Don’t let the praise carry you too high or the criticism drag you down too low. The truth is, excessive praise can be just as destructive as excessive criticism. The more popular your voice becomes online, the more likely you are to build up a fan base that includes a few readers who think you can do no wrong. Handing over your heart to either the lovers or the haters will turn it into a football, fought over between two “teams.” Here’s my advice: The minute you feel you are losing ownership over your emotions by handing them to your fans or your critics or your Google Analytics, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Instead, spend some time with people who actually know you, like, people who live in your hometown and know what your laugh sounds like.  As much as I value and appreciate my online friendships, the most important people in my life are the ones who know me outside of my writing. These people know about my tendency to exaggerate, my messy house, my super-ugly glasses that I have to wear when my contacts dry up, my inability to solve very basic math problems, my bleeding heart, my baking skills, my cooking disasters. And they love me anyway. These people love me for who I am, not what I write down or how I “perform.” And so they are the best ones to tell me when I’ve gone off track, to offer advice, encouragement, and constructive criticism.  Listen to those trusted people, even if they are just a few. Never allow your online supporters or critics to gain a louder voice than they have

***

See also: "On Growing Thick(er) Skin"

So, what would you add to this list? What have you learned about dealing with online criticism? Got any questions about online dialog for a seasoned blogger with a pouting chair?

comments

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/10-tips-online-criticism

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.