Dear World: We’ve Got Your Back.

A while back, I wrote a post that unintentionally got lots of people hot and bothered.

It was an outlier post, different in content and tone from my usual writing. But – in the predictably unpredictable way of social media – it was shared online over a million times.

People were fired up.

Looking back, I can tell you that my “post gone viral” experience was not awesome – in the same way that a never-ending roller coaster ride at Space Mountain would also not be awesome.

I’ve found that there is no middle ground when it comes to roller coasters, or viral posts. You either love! love! love! them (like this lady), or you would rather be boiled in oil. I fall squarely in the latter camp, believing that careening at light speed, upside down, in total darkness, is a very special kind of misery.

And so it was for me. Just minutes after the post was published, it became obvious to all that I wasn’t properly strapped in, or remotely ready for this kind of ride. I wanted off. I wanted the lights back on, and I needed a bucket into which I could barf repeatedly.

“The LORD is your Shepherd, and I’ve got your back.” My pastor would often say to me in those days, holding out a bucket. And then it got even more totally not awesome.

Some non-fans felt compelled TO YELL THEIR OPINIONS OF ME AND MY FAMILY IN ALL CAPS (hasn’t it been well documented that this makes everyone think you’re a loon?) while thousands of others raced to their own blogs to write clever piggy-back posts: This Is What Would Have Said, and This Is How I Would Have Said It (if I had thought of it) Aren’t You Just Outraged About This? Isn’t She A Fool and Aren’t I Cool?

Note to self: never write a blog post about someone else’s blog post. It’s lame.

My first instinct was to gird my loins and rally the troops for a fight. I was Joshua, and this was the time to be strong and courageous, to march bravely around Jericho.

Take the land.

Strap in, saints.

Jump into the fray.

Good verses evil…and all that jazz.

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Except in my heart, I knew that the LORD wasn’t wanting me to fight.

Worse, really, it was dawning on me that God might want me to take it, absorb it, forgive it, and enter into the threatening discord with peace. I was being asked to turn my face towards my Father’s world, and not away from it.

“The LORD is your Shepherd, Kim.”

So, if the LORD didn’t want a fight, then who did?

In case you’ve missed it, all social media wants to see these days is a knock-down-drag-out fight to the death. It wants to see a drama, a tragedy, a horror. In fact, all our media thrives on controversy and conflict: it is alive only because we give it our own lives for fuel and fodder.

It’s not interested in shepherds.

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Friends, social media can restore no one’s soul, only reflect the condition of it.

It leads us daily – not to still waters – but to restless discontent.

Are we invited to lie down in green pastures by Twitter?

Nope. We are tempted to pick a side, draw a line, plant a flag, hunker down, raise our voice, shake our fists, and then call the other team morons.

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“The LORD is your shepherd, and we’ve got your back.”

Church: this is the language we need to take on as we quietly go out into our Father’s world, and redeem all corners of public life.

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What would it look like if the world knew that the LORD was their Shepherd, too?

How will they ever know, if we don’t have their backs? How will we ever remember, if we’re cutting each other down to size?

Are our faces turned towards the world our Father loves, or away from it? 

They will know we are Christians by our love, saints. Of course we must speak boldly and firmly into our world, but we must also shine on it warmly.

God’s Kingdom has come into this world, not to condemn it, but to save it.

He is the Good Shepherd of all his creation.

He has had our backs for all eternity.

Let’s go and do likewise.

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The LORD is your Shepherd, and I’ve got your back.

Kim

29 responses to Dear World: We’ve Got Your Back.

  1. Karmen M. says:

    I found your blog through that viral post and though I did not read all of the comments on it I think you handled yourself well. I had friends that loved your words and ones that took issue with some of them. I think if we (as people) could learn to see past word choices and listen for the intent of the person’s heart we would all be better off. I enjoy your blog and I agree we (the church) need to let God do the shepherding and be there to hold each other up.

  2. Rebecca Brewer says:

    The post that you refer to was my first introduction to your writing. I was compelled to read more of your posts and loved what I read. I look forward to seeing your posts show up in my email. I like to think that I was able to read that “viral” post and see the intent and meaning behind it. It certainly brought you into my life whether you were aware of it or not and that was a good thing.

  3. dorcas says:

    I think I did start following your blog after you posted your viral post🙂 . I must say it has been many wonderful reads so far. I can clearly see your heart and it resembles our Father’s heart. You humbled yourself to peacefully accept the reactions your opinions had. And that to me represents Christ more than anything. If every cloud has a silver lining, your experience brought me to your blog and I have been blessed by it.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  4. I am not familiar with the post you are referring to, but I like what you stand for. I think that most of us who write and share our authentic selves with the world will at some point in time face a little persecution. Continue your craft and stay encouraged in The Lord! In the end, His thoughts are the ones that really matter.

  5. I was ready to go into battle with you! The amount of vitriol in social media is indeed sobering and scary. Love this post. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

  6. Robbie Jane says:

    Kim, your post going viral was an experience that only a small population of people will ever experience. I really enjoyed reading your perspective and lessons learned after the fact. You are really courageous. Better yet, courageous in the name of the Lord. I love your points about warmly sharing our message to the world – I think it’s hugely important to evangelizing effectively. As for your internet commentators, I’m glad you’re not giving them too much credit. I like Brene Brown’s stance that “the comments section of the internet is the cesspool of humanity”. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be on posting here then.🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  7. Bev Klaiber says:

    Kim, I am in the “Love! Love! Love!” Camp with your posts. Even the one to which you were referring …. it inspired me to meet weekly with 5 high school girls for a Bible study and it has been life-alterung for all of us. Keep speaking Truth, sister.

  8. Esther Falcetta says:

    I recently shared that blog post with a mom who has been asking me for advice about teens and social media. Prior to sharing, I told her that I 100% agreed with EVERYTHING you communicated and left it at that. A few days later, the other mom followed-up on this initial conversation and started by saying, “Wow! I know you’re a truth-teller, which is why I always ask for your opinion…did you write to her and tell her she has a twin?” I started laughing and proceeded to ask her what she thought about your post. I found her response to be authentic and enlightening:

    “At first, I really didn’t want to accept what she was saying. I know that my daughter takes selfies that would probably meet the criteria that she expresses concern about. I know that if I agree with what she’s saying, it means I also have to deal with what’s in my own home…and we all know how difficult that can be with teenagers who are obsessed with social media! After reading it again, I realized that the bottom line is there need to be standards and boundaries. We talk about this all the time, but we don’t really challenge and encourage our kids to apply what we talk about in real life. I’m going to have a discussion with my daughter, but only after I go through her instagram account and take screen shots of posts that I think she needs to re-evaluate. Do you have any books that might help us think through these issues together?”

    We had a great extended discussion, I gave her some books and online resources that might be helpful. I encouraged her to be courageous and protective of her daughter’s reputation and virtue. I reminded her that as parents, we have the responsibility to instill values and beliefs in our kids that will hopefully lead to Godly choices. Until they are ready to make choices for themselves, we have to have defined boundaries for them!

    Don’t ever hesitate to tell the truth…those that criticize you are probably struggling to ‘hear’ what God is trying to tell them, or struggling to get past their own version of the truth. You challenged many and I know that the Lord is using you to speak TRUTH into minds & hearts!

  9. E. Miller says:

    I forwarded that particular blog to my husband before I knew it went viral. I saw you as a much needed messenger from a neutral arena, as my words on this subject were falling on deaf ears. Thank you so much for being the voice for so many who struggle with finding the right words to convey the same messages.

  10. Lil' me says:

    Well said! I was impressed with your response after the furor last year, most especially because it was not the standard flaming, angry response we’re all so accustomed to in this age of remote communications; of people hiding behind computer screens and saying things they would not likely say to someone’s face. I pray that others will follow your good example.❤

  11. Samantha says:

    It looks like I wasn’t the only person brought here by that viral post that very much looks forward to your posts in my e-mail. Thanks for hitting the pause button on my day for me so that I may breathe.

  12. Nancy Winslow says:

    As always, Kim, thank you for sharing your heart. Powerful and very thought provoking. Your blog never disappoints.

  13. Ben Nelson says:

    I’m pretty sure i connected with you on that post too! In any case – glad i did -the Lord is my shepherd and I’ve got your back.

  14. Christy says:

    Love your writing and you dear friend!

  15. heidi says:

    Recently, I had a post go viral. It was about public shaming and, like you, I was absolutely unprepared for the chaos that it wreaked on my life and my heart. I love this encouragement to keep going. Thank you!!!🙂

  16. Given Breath says:

    Heidi – I am sorry. I’m sorry that you now have to consider very, carefully what you say and write, and that’s so draining. But do be encouraged, it does get better, and certainly makes you a better editor! I know it will add another dimension to your writing – a depth and beauty born from suffering. Press on, sister – I’ve got your back!

  17. I know the controversial post that you speak of. It is the post that brought me to your page, and I have been reading ever since. And I am sure I am not the only one that has been following your blog since. My point is that even though it was a painful time of learning and growth, the way you responded to the fire has given you the opportunity to share God’s love with others in a bigger way than you were able to previous to that. How cool is that. All things work to the good of those that love God! He makes it so. Keep on shining!

  18. Given Breath says:

    Ha! Robbie Jane — you are redeeming the cesspool with your encouraging words. I am grateful for them! It is a beautiful thing for a writer when readers take the precious time to build up, and cheer on. Thank you. AND CONGRATS!!!!!!

  19. Given Breath says:

    Oh, this does my heart good. Such a creative and masterful of God…
    You are also a shepherd to those girls. You have their backs!
    Thanks, Bev.

  20. Given Breath says:

    Wow (see my shaking my head in amazement). That is a brave mom, indeed, taking inventory and dealing with what is going on in her own home, under her own roof. Bless her. And you are a good friend to her, Esther. Thank you. I was recently doing a Q and A with a group of moms, and a dear woman hesitantly asked me if I thought it was OK for her to check her 13-year-old’s phone???? (I hope I didn’t look too stunned, as I assured her that her instincts were spot on, and OF COURSE she should be regularly checking her daughter’s phone, the whole family should know the password, it does not stay in her room overnight..yada, yada), but what I’ve come to realize it that often we just need another voice to step in and tell us that we’re not crazy. Sometimes It feels like we’re the only ones struggling with setting loving boundaries, and we just need assurance from someone we trust. Your friend trusts you, and you are that voice. Well done, and thank you for taking the time to tell me the details of that story..:) Kim

  21. Alison Homann says:

    Beautifully said Kim Love is so important Jesus just loved through action and we must do what Jesus did Just hard sometimes !!
    God bless you

  22. Laura says:

    OH MAN KIM!!! (and I am not yelling AT you, but WITH you!!!!)
    We need to have coffee and talk about THIS…

    Do you know my story???
    Blogger for years…
    who happens to live in Sandy Hook…
    who had two children, a first and third grader, at the school on 12/14…
    who like an idiot talked to CNN…(they grabbed me coming out of church that night)
    who in a matter of SECONDS became “the Sandy Hook hoax actress”…

    talk about a blindside.

    what happened at our school and to our community was EVIL enough….
    and then the INTERNET….(talk about evil….)
    well, it just about destroyed me.

    And like you….we wanted to fight…my husband wanted to REALLY fight…

    but I thought…

    what would Jesus do?

    so I stayed quiet.
    we remained quiet.
    and I prayed.
    and I got off of the internet.

    after a year, I decided it was time to come back to writing.
    time to preach the Gospel.
    time to bring some light back into this dark internet world.

    I KNOW how you felt.
    And I am so glad that WE are still writing.
    That we chose and choose to follow Christ…
    that we didn’t fight evil with evil.
    that we chose love.

    BE NOT AFRAID.
    He does have our backs…and sister, I have got yours!

  23. Given Breath says:

    WHAT???

    Laura, I had no idea of your story. I am so very, very sorry. I can’t imagine.

    And yours happened in the midst of such pain and loss, and tragedy within your entire community.

    Indeed, I would LOVE coffee about this (and all manner of other things) one day.

    I am glad you are back writing, and I am always blessed by what you say, and the way that you say it.

    Beauty born from suffering…

    The LORD is your Shepherd, friend. And I totally have your back:)

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