as most blogs do, my little corner of the internet started when i realized i needed a place to process my thoughts. so i escaped to these blank spaces often, and closed my laptop with a sense of growth, a feeling of closure. i don't do much in terms of self-marketing, because i believe that people who are interested will read; the words here are outpourings of my heart. i don't have a large following, i don't have ten billion blog subscribers, and i don't get paid for advertisements or anything of the like. i come here freely, as do my readers. and i'm grateful to live in a country where i can say what's in my heart without fear of scrutiny.

or so i thought.

i recently joined the ranks of so many of my blogger friends, by reading the words of those who hate. i guess i've now finally made it. and you know you're big time when someone dedicates an entire blog post to display how very horrible you are -- and with 121 comments none the less! i spent today laughing about the ordeal.

but last weekend i cried about it.

which i can only assume is what this particular blogger and her 121 friends would have wanted me to do.

i reacted in anger, shame, and confusion.

which is exactly what they wanted.

which is exactly what the evil one wanted.

which is the exact opposite of what freedom should bring me.

which is how i knew this was not from good, but from evil.

a group of people who claim to walk closely with Jesus used painful words to describe me, all based on a few blog posts. over a year ago, i poured out my heart into a word document and published it to my beloved GWP community with a prayer that it might be used for the story of redemption. and after reading the most vulnerable 2,000 words i've ever written, these people tore me apart. they assumed they  knew everything about me -- and they have assumed the worst. they see me as unfit to marry and spoke lies over my marriage. they said my husband settled and they echoed thoughts of pity for this feeble person i convinced to marry me. they diagnosed my future by looking at my past, and they told me they couldn't wait to see my marriage end in flames due to my misbehavior. their words cut to the deep parts of my soul that, while redeemed, still hurt like hell.

oops. i cussed again. my bad. and if "hell" is worse than the 43 "whore" and "slut"'s i counted in your comment section, then i don't know what to do.

but, as is always the case, grace and new mercies have come with the morning.

and i couldn't care less what this group of people may or may not think of me or my life.

i don't care what they said.

i don't even think we speak the same language.

i took all of their words with complete humility and i asked for my eyes to be opened. i sincerely waited to hear confirmation that their words carry truth. i sat in silence to try and understand what my stance should be.

but that's what's crazy; when i listened for God's voice, i didn't hear Him calling me a 'whore.'

i didn't hear anything like that at all.

but in order to process what's happened, i have to write all this out. so i'm sorry if this isn't my normal upbeat tone; today this space is for me.

so my response: pity. i feel pity for anyone who believes that righteousness is gained through perfectly-lived lives, through rule-following, and old-testament-quoting. i used to be like you. i've been made new, and i never want to go back to the place where i felt the desperation you people must feel. i have pity for you, who have been confronted with grace and have run in the opposite direction. i don't know if it's fear that drove you there, or if you've been fed lies. but i have pity for you, you who have yet to hear of freedom, without a cost. i hope that someone shows you this grace. i pray your blinders come off.

and my apology is not to anyone who would say such cruel things about someone in the name of Jesus. i don't need to explain anything to you -- as if it would change your mind about me.

my apology would be to anyone who reads my words here, and believes me to be someone who is proud of debauchery, or who encourages young women to walk down destructive paths. i am neither of those things; my only hope is to speak life into death, light into darkness, through the proclamation that God is sovereign. i care so deeply about the hearts of young women, that sometimes i can't even sleep.

my apology is to my friends, to my tribe, to my people: if i have ever spoken in such a way that it led you to believe i claim anything other than the grace of God to account for where i am today, i am unspeakably sorry. forgive my misrepresentation of the gospel, and please know i am sharpening my tongue to better speak of God's goodness.

and to clarify: i'm not proud of what i've done -- i'm proud of what's been done to me. i'm proud of the redemption i've experienced, not by my own doing but by the sacrificial act of Jesus, who has absolutely transformed my life.

i'm not proud of the "dumb stuff" in and of itself; i'm proud God took the dumb stuff and made it good. in His name, by His grace, for His glory. i boast in the shit i'm covered in, because that makes God all the more powerful in my life.

i stand stronger today, unshaken by the name-calling in someone else's corner of the internet. after all, they are using the same free speech i am so grateful for.

i just know i'll never use it to slander anyone.