When I get feedback from readers, one of the things I hear a lot is that they like Emily because she struggles. Because she blows it sometimes and does things she shouldn’t. Because she can’t get where she wants to be with her faith.
I get it. It’s why I love her, too. Because guess what? I’m not a perfect Christian.
It bothers me – more than a little – when I hear people put themselves on a pedestal and look down on someone else. Whether it’s judging the parent struggling with their child in the store. Or the person struggling with their faith. Or anyone who makes a mistake. It doesn’t matter. I know there are horrible people out there. But most people are trying to do the best they can and sometimes they fail. Sometimes their failures are public, and in this cellphone-recording age it can go viral almost instantly. And I feel for these people because I know I’m not perfect either.
I am fairly laid back and quiet. But I once had an epic meltdown at the doctor’s office over the way they treated my kids. I mean, it was EPIC! And I cringe to this very day when I think about it. I am so, so glad that a nurse didn’t whip out a cellphone and put that on YouTube because I guarantee it would have gone viral. And I would have looked like a crazy person. When I’m not (most of the time). So when I see those viral videos, I try to remind myself that it is a snap shot in time. We don’t see what happened before or after. We see a tiny little slice of reality that may or may not be an accurate depiction of what happened. But the content of that video will be judged as if it is THE reality. THE truth.
It’s not right.
And I say this because I know I’m not perfect. And neither is anyone else.
You can tell yourself that you are better than someone else from the anonymous spot at your computer screen. But in reality, if you’re judging so severely, I’m thinking you’re probably not a better person. In fact, you could be much worse. And the thing that truly sickens me is when I see this inside the church or from people who profess to be Christians. People acting as if they are perfect and judging others’ sins so harshly.
Some of my feedback has not been kind about my books, particularly because my world building includes some not-so-nice elements. I’m really OK with that. I knew that could be an issue going into it, but I felt like if I was going to be in Emily’s head, her voice had to be authentic. My experience with both reporters and cops is that they swear a lot. That’s a hard habit to break. Had I not chosen a first person point of view, I may have been able to work around it, but I didn’t so here we are. Because of that, I’m actually a little afraid to tell people I know about my books because I don’t want them to judge me. I was actually quite horrified when the sweet older lady who sits in front of me in church each week and is friends with my mother-in-law found out about my books and downloaded them to her Kindle. But being the very kind person she is, she’s only told me that she loves them, though they are a little scary for her. But she has read every one and regularly asks me if I have anything new yet.
That tells me a lot about her. It tells me she can look at me and not judge my decisions to write about murder or use a few swear words. I’m glad she didn’t tell me that I should write Amish romance novels instead. I’m glad she didn’t tell my mother-in-law that I’m an awful person or, even worse, announce it to the church as a whole. It’s an example of how I should treat others. How we all should treat others. Left to her own devices, she wouldn’t have made the choices I did. But she isn’t judging me for my decisions.
No one is perfect. So who am I to judge? I only know One perfect person. And it’s definitely not me.