Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What to Do with Hate in Your Inbox

I hurriedly click the check marks down the left hand side of the screen without stopping to read anything beyond the subject line.  The Inbox is always overflowing with promises of retail happiness and fulfillment, but during the last two months of the year, every company start spewing out emails too fast to delete.

It's usually best to delete without even opening.

In the midst of my rhythmic clicking, I pause at a subject line from a retailer's site--a response to one of my posted book reviews.

A simple flick of my index finger, and my stomach drops.

"You sound like someone who thinks our national flag should be solid white. Funny how cowards always try to pass themselves off as tolerant."

Coward? Me?

Whoever said only sticks and stones can hurt was a liar.  Hate in word, not only deed, can pierce, can hurt deep even across the miles and from the anonymous.

The hatred from his words escapes the mega pixels and fills the room like a poisonous fog.  Seemingly demure black Times New Roman can't mask a total derision of me as an individual.

Is that what I am? A coward? Because I believe Christ called me to witness to everyone in the world, even those of the Muslim faith? Because I don't believe all Muslims should be feared as terrorists?

I stretch my arms high and lean back deep into my office chair, listen to the creak of metal groaning.  Hands run hard through wild curly hair as I sigh and think again how it would be so easy to just stop writing.

As always happens, I second guess myself, my writing, my words, my calling to different ministries.

Maybe he's right.  Maybe I am a coward.  Here I sit, three times a week, hiding behind this back lit screen, professing a written confident faith in a triune God who saves while fumbling over my every word when called upon to share that same gospel face to face with a live human being.

Is that a coward?

The cursor flashes much too long with my pause, pulsing in time with my heart that finally speaks a simple no.

A coward would not begin the conversation about God in the first place.  A coward would turn off the computer screen and never publish her writings again.  A coward would let that fear of others, not God's word, rule her actions and words. 

Yes, I feel overwhelming insecurities and insufficiency for the task each day.  But over this past year, I've moved so far out of my comfort zone, I have to squint to see it behind me.

One night a week, I have a chance to be a coward.  Mixed in with the excitement at obeying God's call on my life is a heavy dose of fear as I drive into the city to teach a group of refugees.  This semester's new group has been great in number, all male, and almost all Muslim.  I know how the Muslim religion views women.

After the first night of classes, I was more than a little intimidated, actually felt the sting of one man's exasperation with my inability to understand him.This wasn't my group of beloved refugees from Myanmar.  This was different.

I wanted to be a coward, told God I couldn't do this--not with this many men who I knew hated my faith.

But in His power, I returned.  Another male church leader sat in as a helper that night.  And in that instant, the class dynamic changed.  Slowly, God opened my heart to this group of refugees just as He had done with the former group.  He transformed the heart of cowardice and fear into one concerned about not only their spiritual needs but their physical ones as well.

I worried less about what they thought of me and found myself  focused on finding them all warm coats for the winter ahead.

No, these aren't the actions of a coward.  They are of a woman who fears God more than man, who is living out the Word of God despite her fear.

I slide the mouse up to the left and click delete.



  1. Thank you for your example on all sides of the argument. Blessings.

  2. Jennifer... You are a woman of courage. You are NOT a coward. And you are a woman of Christ. I so admire how you handled this. And I also really appreciated your vulnerability in sharing the inner turmoil you faced as you went through this. I just want to stand on my feet right here, and applaud! Love you!

  3. And, these are the actions of faith. In so doing you are ministering far beyond your personal reach.

    Blessed, as always, by your words, your witness--your friendship.

  4. Props to you Jennifer for getting out into this world to make a difference- that takes courage. Especially because not everyone will appreciate your efforts.

  5. You ladies are all awesome. All the love in my Inbox today has been quite heart warming.