This is gonna be a long one, but so important. I posted this article on my Facebook today and wanted to share with you as I believe it is important to think about once we step out as creative women into the virtual and even real world.
Facebook is a virtual space where you place your public profile. What we place on Facebook is just a small part that represents some things about us. It is not who we are as a whole. We should all be careful not to judge each other just on what is shared here on Facebook or online if we do not have the bigger picture or all the facts. Some are very ignorant about it and some share just about anything and everything.
For me, it is a ministry platform and a creative outlet. It does however not define me. As a creative person, I have many interests and capabilities and you will see me share the things I love or care about here or things I would like to bookmark and remember or read later and I hope that it brings you encouragement, renders hope and stirs your spirit to move closer to God.
I also hope to inspire creativity in others. It is also a way of making a difference in the lives of other people. My priorities, however, are (and I am sharing this because most of you don't know me so I'm telling you who I am so you don't misunderstand or here it from someone else. Believe it cause it's true. ): God first above all else, then my marriage and family, then serving others and helping and guiding as is my calling as an Educator, then my creative interests and business last. I don't use my Christianity to make sales. I am a Christian and as a Christian, God has given me a mandate to also concur the business mountains in this world. Because Facebook is a marketing platform for businesses all over the globe and a very successful one at that, you will see me market my work here as well with links to my official pages. I am proud of what I do because I do it to the Honor of the God I serve. He is my CEO and Partner in it all and He is not kept out of it but forms the cornerstone of it. If you judge what I do and say, you must also know you judge Him. I represent Him to the best of my human abilities and I know I am not perfect and will never be in this life. So, neither is anyone else for that matter.
Christians fail and fall like everyone, but God is the Rock that stands firm and when I share as a person who stands under His forgiveness, I do it boldly with the knowledge that even if I fail perfectly in my imperfection, His grace can turn my ashes into beauty and my words into a message or a lesson for me and others.
Facebook is also about convenience and everything is in one place, linked to everything else and so we all use it all the time. So when you find yourself on my timeline, you may find all my interests and shares in one place linking it to all my other relevant places. You do not have to feel pressured into supporting any of what I share. For me, it is also a way of communicating and sharing info as is my nature as an Educator and being part of the larger community that I have the same interests with.
I share what I know and I ask questions to get people thinking about stuff as I also feel led to think about those things. As I am led by current issues, spiritual, emotional, interpersonal, or topic-specific that I find educational or informative or even inspiring, I share it to benefit me and my readers.
It is important to remember if anything that anyone shares on Facebook is not your interest, you have the power to unfollow or unfriend that person. We need wisdom and discernment when it comes to Facebook. We need to apply basic Facebook and online etiquette.
Remember this one thing: if you want to get to know someone you see on Facebook, it will take a physical face to face meeting and an investment in time and effort for a real relationship to take place. Just because Facebook calls the connections here "friends", real friendships can start here but if you want something real that has meaning, you have to step out and meet that person in real life. Great things can come of this, but we have to have the courage to step out of the security and comforts of virtual space. My husband and I met on Facebook nearly 10 years ago. We have been married for over 8 years. If we didn't step out in faith to meet each other immediately after meeting here in virtual space, we would not be married today.
Facebook is also a scary place if you naively put yourself out there without any protection. People judge easily and can take one thing you say and bend it like Beckham and then share it with others like it is the truth and even claim that you said it. I am a blogger and I write. That is what I do and I know it holds this risk in it when I share. God is calling me more and more to step out in faith and do more of it. I do it boldly without fear because I am obedient and it brings me joy to know I may help someone.
I know that it depends on the reader's heart, own personal views and perceptions if they would accept what I say or not or benefit from it or not. If you do, you do and that's great. If you don't, that's OK too. For me, it is not about any response from the reader. It is about obedience to follow what I am supposed to do. It is a journey and I share it freely as my core gift is an encouragement.
Life is hard and can shatter us at times. I want to share boldly that it is for me too, but I have HOPE in each and every instance. I am very detailed and that is why I can write a post like this in a short period of time without it even being a stretch for me. Some cannot fathom or process even my ability to punch out words at this rate. That's OK too. We all have different abilities and gifts. There is no expectation or requirement that you have to digest it all. For those who can and who took the time to read all the way through, thank you. Maybe it gives you a glimpse of how a highly sensitive personality type can function. We care that extra little more, we feel that extra bit deeper, we have rich inner thoughts and lives and we should never apologize for the depth of feeling or the gifting God has given us. Lesser souls who feel insecure about who they are, might make you want to feel that you have a "problem" because of your natural functioning, and it has caused many an HSP person so much pain, but I can tell you, don't listen to them. They are ignorant about you and they don't know God's purposes or will for your life. Step away from them. Pray for them to find healing in their broken places, but do step away.
Everybody on earth has a special and unique thumbprint and if you know me as an Educator, and you can ask any of my old students also linked to me on Facebook, they would tell you that I believe this passionately. God has a special plan for each and every one of us. Nobody is a mistake and everybody has value in the eyes of God. (Maybe not in the eyes of some men, but definitely in the eyes of God!) When I share about this one temperament type (HSP), it is because I form part of that one group of people (15-20%), one segment of the world population which means: We are part of the world, part of God's plan, we may have a unique purpose that is unique to our temperament, but we are not more or less important than any other temperament. Please take note of what I just said. We are all just humans and God created us for a purpose each in his or her own uniqueness.
Each temperament has its purpose and special characteristics. Each also has its pro's and cons. When I share about the temperament grouping I belong to, I do not and have not ever said I am more special than anyone else, but strangely enough that is the response I sometimes get from some who is ignorant about the facts and ignorant about who I am or what I really believe and also ignorant about this specific temperament. If we take anything anyone ever said, out of context, we can once again bend it like Beckham into all sorts of shapes that suit our own belief system and then claim that it is what someone else said. I am ready to give you facts if you would like to know more about the Highly Sensitive Temperament that is usually in most cases, linked to the Highly Creative and Artistic type of person. Strangely enough, it is these artistic people who misunderstand their own temperament or is in denial about it, or ignorant because nobody has ever given them the information or the facts. It is my heart to share freely about what God has shown me. I was in agony and nearly emotionally destroyed by my own temperament. Does that sound to you like fun? Like I think I am better than everyone else? Nope. I cried out to the Lord and He answered me a couple of years ago and I started on the road of research and then healing. He needed to renew my mind about me.
Because I now truly understand who He made me to be, I am at peace and I am moving ahead into the highly creative life He planned for me. I love every minute of the freedom He has afforded me but it took 43 years to get here and loads of mistakes and ignorance and pain. If I can help just one person to navigate this temperament better, then I have succeeded in life. My challenge now is to educate others who stand in ignorance about this temperament, its gifting and its challenges. If it is not managed correctly, your life can become unbalanced and you will experience and even cause pain. Some HSP's in crisis even take their own lives. The pressure is that intense.
So, to get back to Facebook and how to view it and use it responsibly: Tread carefully on how you judge if you don't have all the facts. Be careful not to pay forward ignorance. When sharing stuff you didn't write, be careful not to add your own judgments blindly to it, but represent that person and the cause they care about, honourably. Also, never presume just because you are linked in some sort of way in virtual space to someone, that you KNOW them. You can be sure that you don't. Knowing someone needs an interpersonal connection on an intimate level and you need to invest yourself and that person needs to invest themselves, for that relationship to happen. Because of Facebook, the word "friend" has become cheap. We afford it to just anyone. Friendship is a place of honour and should be afforded to those who are truly part of our lives and that we know care about us.
On the other hand, I also believe that connections here can turn into friendships and I am totally open to that, but my dear reader, please know that we need, we all need, wisdom in each instance. The moment I stepped forward into the public domain, I opened the door to the public, but I also know God wants to use me, so here I am, writing this...to you. Take it to heart if it means something to you. But also understand a little something about me and what I stand for. See it as an informative post. We are never too old to learn. I learn new things every day and I learn hard life lessons and then I share it openly to benefit others.
I hope I can encourage you through my candour, to have a bigger picture in mind. Facebook is a community of real live people, with lives and feelings, and things and people they care about.
As a creative woman, I mainly connect with other women and my heart is to make a difference spiritually and creatively. The products I help create via my business is to support this ministry of encouragement. To bring you something that will inspire you, make you feel good about life, help you celebrate and cultivate a beautiful life that gives God honour. As I am a woman, a creative person, I minister to and care about other women who like me, want to live out and explore their creativity. I hope what you read and see here on my timeline or in any of my groups and pages on Facebook, will add value to your life and bring inspiration.
At the same time, I realize that there are broken people, broken women out there that may see what I do, read my posts online or come across it somewhere, and they may not know how to take it in, digest it, interpret it or understand it. Let's care about these women too. Let's pray for these women and not forget them. They are the ones who would use gossip, slander, discrediting others as a pre-emptive strike or weapon when they want to protect themselves against more hurt. They are in pain, deep pain and some of you may have been affected by such women. Realize that they are hurting and show them grace by praying for them. They don't know why they do what they do, they just know they have to do it. They don't even realize how they cause hurt with it. These are the women who would meet someone new, immediately tell them about their issues with others and in that, influences that personal negatively towards a person they have never met. I have also fallen into this trap again recently when entering the "Scrapbook Industry". More than one person tried to influence me against a couple of other people who I also didn't know and then they turned their arrows on me. Some I have only met a couple times and some not at all. They don't know me and I don't know them. God showed me that if I tried to defend myself or even "warn" others about what was going on behind their backs, I am making myself guilty of the same sins.
I did not start the gossip, I had no intention of slandering anyone, but because I was trying to find my feet in a new industry people started to volunteer info and they also tried to influence me against some. It was already going on for years before I came into this specific picture. I asked questions and engaged in these very limited conversations to understand what the problem was and to try and address the attitudes and that was my mistake. Even though I spoke out against it, just because I was in it, if fell into the enemy's trap. Just by being in those conversations, I was guilty by association. I have not been the first women that has been trapped by this nor will I probably be the last. When these "broken women in pain started to direct their arrows at me, gossiping about me as well, someone they didn't even bother to get to know, it started to affect me. The moment I realized how the experience polluted me, I tried to step away. A hard thing to do if you are community minded. How do you become part of a community and protect your heart at the same time especially if a small group of hurt people (hurt caused not by me) go out of their way to discredit you and anyone that gets in their way, just because you dared to step into the same picture? Very challenging thing, but I was reminded again that hurting people, hurt people.
The moment I realized I was paying it forward just by engaging, I was allowing the problem to continue. God dealt harshly with me and ever since then, I have tried to do quite the opposite. I am proclaiming let's have grace for these women. I even wrote a blog post about my experience some time last year as a way of processing my experience and knowing how to proceed. One thing I know is we have to choose how to respond. My choice is this: Let's treat them better than they treat us. I know for a fact that all women deal with this sometime in their lives. Group pressure. Jealousy. Feeling others may hold a threat to me or my picture and then lashing out. Forming exclusive clicks and actively keeping "undesirables" out. This is juvenile and spiritually immature behaviour. God's message to me once again this week was: We need to GROW UP. As women we can be very territorial and judgmental. Let's address the "Jezebel" spirit that tries to keep us apart and destroy our relationships or potential relationships. Let's step out in forgiveness and wisdom. Let's stop being so defensive all the time and lets be more inclusive. Let's attempt at least to be more like Jesus. He was all inclusive. To truly make friends we first need a better attitude. God had to adjust my attitude. I hope through this, He may also adjust yours. You have to point the finger at yourself and say: "It has to begin with me". I did and I hope that may change things.
This is what I can suggest: If someone starts talking about someone that is not in the room, say "Stop! I love you but I don't want to here about someone else who is not here to defend herself. Let's keep it positive." Facebook is riddled with these types of issues. So, my encouragement today is that you first know someone well before you judge them. What do you do then when you deal with someone new whom you would like to get to know and you realise that they have already been polluted against you by gossip from others long before you stepped into the picture? Man, that is a difficult dilemma. You will have to accept unfortunately that that person will not be able to be objective until they actively choose not to believe the gossip even it it was from a person they trusted.
I had an experience when working in the Middle East where when we arrived a the new college we were going to teach at, a British couple befriended us. From the start they tried to influence us against everyone who worked at the college, offering their experiences and thoughts on everyone. Who was good and who was to be avoided. We quickly realised that they were not correct in all of their assumptions about their colleagues. I decided to make a point of it to give everybody they were warning me against, a fair shot and I was pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful people I got to know and their great attitudes towards me. Then after a couple of years we got to work with this British couple again in another country and college and we got to experience the other side of it where we were on the receiving end. We felt the repercussions of it when we arrived as they had the opportunity to now "inform" everyone about who they thought we were and it influenced all our potential relationships. So, you see, we realised that some people because of their hurt cannot help themselves. They have to feel they must position themselves in such a way socially, that they will be accepted by others or that they can have some sort of power in social settings and all they accomplish is to show the world how hurt they are, but they don't realise it. I cannot claim that I have never been affected nor ever will be again, but I do know that if I "GROW UP" as God says, then I can know that I am secure in Him, that He has my back, that I don't have to see others as some sort of threat to me. He shows me I sometimes need to step away from someone who is still in hurt so they don't lash out at me and rather pray for them than try and protect myself against them. They are not my enemy, nor ever will be because the real enemy is not flesh and bone but the spirits and principalities that try to detroy us all. So use Facebook wisely, have mercy for others when they don't know what they are doing. Rather pray for those who hurt you intentionally or unintentionally and walk and talk like you are asking "What would Jesus do?".
When I sponge up the negativity of others, the antagonistic feelings some harbour against me or in generally towards everyone they meet, it becomes for an HSP negative energy and we absorb it physically. It doesn't originate with us but we carry it in our body until we get rid of it and detox from it. One way is to exercise or walk it off. Another is to write a journal until it is all out on the page. You can also go into your garden or into nature somewhere and sit and talk to God until you feel everything is in His lap. Until it is totally dealt with it will manifest in your dreams and thoughts and emotions and people may think this negativity is yours. This is the mystery that is being HSP. It is not. It is however the burden we carry and why we burn out so easily and we absolutely need to detox on a regular basis, but responsibly. If you have questions about this, don't hesitate to ask.
What have we learned here today?:
1. Use and interpret Facebook with care and be wise about it.
2. Friendship is about investing yourself in real life, not virtual life.
3. Being highly sensitive comes with being highly artistic or creative. It is a burden but also a gift. Get properly educated about it before you judge it.
4. Get to know someone on their own merit and in person before you reject them, what they stand for or judge them too harshly. Give everybody a fair chance to prove their worth.
5. Don't allow a hurt person to pay forward gossip about someone you have never met. Rather offer to pray for them and change the subject.
6. When affected by the malice of hurt people, understand that they don't know any better, they are blinded by their pain, forgive them, have grace for them, step away so not to be affected by their malice yourself, don't pay forward anything they say about others. Wait until you have had personal experience with the person they distrust or discredited to form your own opinion freely, even if the hurt person is someone you love and have known for a long time. Recognise the hurt in them.
7. When you realise someone has already been polluted to have opinions about you, step away and realise they won't give you a fair chance until they decide not to believe the account about you. Give them to God. He will fight for you. Forgive and let go and let God! Don't try to convince them about anything. They won't believe you anyway.
8. Finally: always try to walk humbly and live justly with your God. Treat others with the same respect and attitude you want them to have towards you.
Pay this attitude forward. :)