Since the moment I decided to write my memoir, I knew I’d eventually have to face angry, zealous Christians. People so convinced of their salvation, they need to tell those who deviate from their beliefs they’re bound for hell. That day arrived last month, just 30 minutes prior to my interview on the nationally syndicated radio show, Coast to Coast A.M. with George Noory.
This man’s email—laden with condemnation and malice—accused me of being demon-possessed.
Honestly, the timing of his message wasn’t good for me. I’d never done a national show before and my nerves were fraying. The thought of having someone like this get on the show and eviscerate me on air before three million listeners worried me. Would I be able to answer someone’s angry rants from a standpoint of love and respect?
Luckily, none of the callers made venomous claims against me. Though, I received a handful of nasty, accusatory emails from other Christians, most of whom stated I couldn’t be a Christian (read my post “My Christianity is as Valid as Yours”). While these emails were thick with hatred and judgment, I refused to feed into their negativity.
After all, Jesus taught us how to treat people who view us with contempt.
…“do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?”
In my replies to each critic, I wrote that I respected their views. I answered their accusations without being defensive, but shared why I believe as I do. I tried to keep the tone of my replies light and kind.
I hoped I wouldn’t hear back from them. And most didn’t reply, except for the man who sent the first and worst of the emails. In his second diatribe, he said he’d pay me money if I stopped selling and talking about my book. He wrote that I was greedy and didn’t care if I was sending others on the path to hell. Once again, I pushed away the impulse to be defensive and nasty, and, instead, replied with love and respect.
The next day, I opened my email and saw he’d written me yet again. How many cheeks do I need to turn?
Warily, I clicked on his letter. Here’s a condensed version:
“I need to apologize to you, ma’am….you repaid my harshness with kindness and I at least need to send you the same….I am not able to express in words how glad I am that you were steadfast in the face of my judgmental stance…It’s important for you to know that you are being used to turn me away from my paranoid mindset and that’s a good thing…Feel good about the way you stand in the truth of God.”
I read it twice. Shocked. Humbled. As I once again realized the power of love. I must remember this lesson.