Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Regrets, I've had a few...

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind." 
Dr. Suess


I have few regrets in life, but I'm about to disclose one of my biggest.

I caved to what I would now consider bullying and sold my personal  values for continued opportunity and a small amount of money.  Before the days of blogging, I had an article published on one of my websites.  An editor of a magazine I was writing for called me about a particular piece, upset.  I had no idea this was coming - otherwise I never would have responded as I did.   She was alarmed at the frankness with which I wrote this particular piece, one that contained interviews with pastor's wives who had been abused,  and demanded that I delete it.   My writing was too forthright for her tastes and her exact words were, "if you are going to keep writing for us, we demand that you delete that, right now."  

She was alarmed by my frankness and also felt this expose' of abusive churches would "turn people away from Christ."  (In my humble opinion it was the behavior of the churches, not my article that would have turned people away from Christ...)  She told me the pastor's wives who were interviewed would one day greatly regret it.  That what they needed was just prayer, not a discussion of what they  had been through.  That this could only bring harm not good.  That some things are better left unsaid.


I was shell shocked.
Caught off guard.

I was also less confident, younger, and desperate for people to buy my work.

She wasn't calling to ask me to consider it and call her back.  She was demanding a change, right then, on the phone.

I didn't defend myself but quietly agreed to take the article off the site.  I felt like a four year old being scolded by my mother.  After sharing her disappointment with my level of transparency she  condescendingly asked if she could pray with me (I still bristle when I recall this) and then said that when she came to Florida some day she would like to have lunch with me, realizing that I was (in her words) "an up and coming leader who God was really using.".  I'd rather have lunch with Nancy Pelosi, quite frankly.  Yeah, that's how bad this memory is in my mind.

Had I had time to think about this, I never would have agreed to remove the article .  But I felt the pressure on the phone as she made her demands that day.  As the years have passed, I felt that I sold a little of my soul that day and I vowed I'll never do it again.  Ever.

I've realized since that time that the pen is truly mightier than the sword.  Martin Luther said, "if you want to change the world, pick up your pen."  I believe what a person writes is even more powerful than the spoken word, because what people say can be easily forgotten.  Even today in this era of technology, people receive and process a text or a twitter much more readily than a podcast!  The written word has the power to last forever, and it's therefore a huge threat.

 I've been preaching for 25 years and writing for even longer.  And I have learned that what I write hands down has the power to stir people more, for good or bad.  If somebody's gonna get their panties in a bunch, it's usually over a blog post or article, not a message although I many times say much more controversial things in my messages!  This is true of most if not all writers/speakers that I know.

I made a decision after that regrettable experience of acquiescing  to that editor that I will never do that again.  No platform of opportunity or amount of money is worth altering who I am to please someone else.

I'm still friends with the pastor's wives interviewed for that article and not one regrets speaking out.  If anything they regret not coming forward sooner to share their experiences openly.

Incidentally the magazine I was writing for (one that enjoyed many prosperous decades) is now defunct, having been discontinued due to lack of subscribers and funding.  Perhaps if the writing had been more frank and compelling it would have survived.

 

3 comments:

Tina Blount said...

Hmmmm, very thoughtful and real Deanna. A good reminder for your fellow writers to stay true to the Word and true to ourselves.

Tami said...

Love this post. I've taken heat before for being honest and transparent - I'm glad to see that there are those out there that support being real. Thanks for sharing and I'm sorry for that experience.

Deanna said...

Thank you Tina and Tami. It was cathartic for me to write this post. Only very few people in my circle of friends knew about this and it's kind of been stewing for a long time so writing it out and publishing it feels like I've put it to rest and can move on.