I took a break from social media, as some of you may know. I needed to step back, because the noise was too loud, the comments too heated, the threats seemed too real. I needed to step back and assess what I wanted to use the platform for. Was I going to just be “mom Sarah”, posting photos of my darling kids, writing antidotes on the wonders and challenges of parenting? Was I “artist Sarah” using social media as a way to promote and share my art and creative projects? Was I “activist Sarah”, connecting people with ideas and uniting us together toward solutions to the social justice problems happening around the world. The problem is, I am all of these things. And I am also a pastor’s wife. That mix is potent. It can be powerful, but it can also be detrimental. Its a fine line to walk, and one I have been walking for years.
And then, on Inauguration Day, I slipped, lost my balance, and leaned heavy to the activist side of things. And it got ugly, fast. I think part of what was shocking to me about the whole ordeal was how quickly and vehemently they slammed not only my character, but the character of my family. I was told I should be ashamed of myself, I was threatened to be quiet or else they’d tell my husband on me. It got worse from there. I wanted to say a hundred things in response, yet I held my tongue. I haven’t been the subject of so much vitriol possibly ever.
I had underestimated the anger bubbling under the surface of our country right now. I underestimated my ability to separate someone’s attack on the topic from their attack on my personal life. I felt violated, instantly. I immediately thought of every photo of my children, and how they were suddenly so vulnerably exposed to the anger of people like that. I shut it all down. I took down the post that held all those cruel comments, I shut down my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I cried and prayed and listened and waited.
Support poured in, comments and emails and messages from all pockets of the world. It was incredible to see how far reaching our social community had become. To hear ways words I shared had inspired others. It was humbling. The encouragement I heard over the next few days helped balance my heart. They helped me find my way in the dark, they were sparks of hope that lighted the path as I sought wisdom on what to do next.
For now, I want to maintain this writing platform and continue to practice balance. What I learned from the last week is that anything can be screen shot, altered, and used against you. Nothing is sacred so long as it’s public. (hello, terrifying!) So I may be a bit clumsy as I sort it all out and I’m praying for more grace than anger to follow me here. I want to write, I want to connect, I want to use my voice to participate in the global conversations that are happening now. I can’t challenge you to be brave with your life if I am unwilling to do the same.
So here I am. A little bruised and afraid, but showing up anyway. Hate can’t shut us down. Amen?
*artwork by Pierre Soulages – Peinture, 21 novembre 1959