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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Thursday 16th February 2017

The Day They Called Me a No-Good, Crummy Woman on the Internet (And Why I Refused to Believe It)

Yesterday, FOX News graciously published my essay on how my husband and I have managed to find peace in our politically divided household. When I first published the essay here on my blog, it received an overwhelmingly positive response from people who — like you and me — have been trying to figure out how to get along peaceably with those with differing views.

My husband and I invited you into our home and into our mess. Our hope: that we could share what God was teaching us about truly listening and loving one another through these trying times.

For those same reasons, we agreed to have the essay published at FOX News.

Before the post went live, I had already braced myself for the negative remarks that would surely fill the comment box over at FOX News. Within minutes of being published, my family was the target of name-calling and crude accusations. The Internet trolls began to sow discord, provoke one another, and completely disregard the message of peace and unity in my essay.

Now … this is really important here … I am not disturbed or rattled by this. I mean this with all sincerity: I am truly fine.  I have read every comment, every slam, every derogatory insult. But I am not feeling personally defeated or dismayed. There’s a reason for that — which is why I’m writing to you today.

But before I get to the point, here’s a sampling of the remarks that readers left for me at FOX News:

“Jenny, find a good church where they have older women training younger women to love their husband and children.”

“This husbands [sic] problem is that he got married to such a poor lady in the first place.”

“The author, her husband and people like them is [sic] what is wrong with this country.”

One reader suggested that one of our daughters will grow up to be a drug addict; others called me “a disobedient wife,” “a crummy wife,” and “a person of extremely low character.” They had some choice words for my husband too.

The good news is coming in a moment. But before we move on, can we all just pause and quietly ask the question we’re all asking? Where are the grownups in the comment box?  Fix it, Jesus. 

Ok. Now, moving on, because I have an actual point here.

My point isn’t to gain your sympathy. My point isn’t to stoke the fires of revenge, or have you click over to FOX News and virtually punch commenters in the throat. (The fact that you’d do that for me though? Well, it kinda makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. I realize that we’re all too classy for throat-punching, but, you know, there are days when even the saint-i-est saints are tempted.)

My point is this: People will be dropping labels and names on us forever-and-ever-amen. But only WE get to decide which labels stick to us. 

Right now, some of you are dealing with far more painful insults than the ones that came from those annoying Internet trolls — because the labels you’re living under came from people who held your heart in their hands. Some of you have lived under labels, names, and insults so long, that they’ve become wrapped around your entire identity.

Friend, this post is for you.

This is for you, who has been rejected and misunderstood.

This is for you, who have consistently responded like Jesus calls you to respond, but you got beat down anyway.

This is for you, who’ve been told you’re too much, or not enough.

This is for you, who’ve been called bossy, bimbo, weak, fat, stupid, boring, out-of-touch, childish, unqualified.

You are not a label. You are a person.

What I’ve learned over the years, is that none of us can control other people’s words or actions. We can only be in charge of our reactions. When we are tempted to respond to hurt with MORE hurt, let’s remember how God’s Word calls us to respond: with kindness, blessing, and even prayer. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:28).

Now, let’s be clear: It’s okay to feel the hurt. Like a friend told me recently, the older we get, the more invested we become in the people around us. Because of that investment, rejection and mistreatment cut deep. Therefore, we must allow ourselves to feel our feelings, because they are proof that our hearts are still tender and invested in others. But we will not allow those sad feelings to rule our lives. Deal?

Let’s refuse to wear any labels, unless they were stuck there by God. God’s labels say this: Loved, Approved, Cherished, His. The more we take time to let God whisper those labels over us, the less power we give the negative labels.

Maybe you’ve felt the sting of labels lately. Maybe you’ve been wearing labels for months, even years, because of your past. If God didn’t put the label there, tear it off.

Today’s a new day. Solidarity, my friend. We got this.

xo

Jennifer

 

YOUR TURN: What Label of Love did God put on you? Share in the comments — and live it! 

 

  • So much love for you, for this, for the essay, for all the good God does through people who choose kindness and refuse to let labels stick. Amen. No more label sticking! Thank you for being brave and kind, Jennifer.

  • I went over to start reading comments, but I quit as it just nauseated me and made me want to cry. I’m so sorry some people judged and labeled you and your husband and even your daughter, Jennifer. I applaud you for your bravery to publish this article and for choosing love between each other and for respecting each other’s differences. Amen to this – “God’s labels say this: Loved, Approved, Cherished, His.” Thank you for sharing this. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Yes, her daughter–even her daughter! A bridge way too far. Unimaginable! and Jennifer, I had meant to say in my response to you that I do think you are one gracious lady. I just spouted off now in my comment, but you are taking the high road, the Christ path. Good for you. A wonderful example that you are setting. I do think we have to speak truth in love and call out sin (and many of their comments are, frankly sinful), but right now, your goal is to share love and to turn the other cheek. You’ve done that. You are remarkable.

      • Yes, Lynn, unimaginable and so very sad. I so agree with Lynn, Jennifer, that you are one gracious lady. Also what she said in her other comment – you are “courageous, noble, sensical, and lover of God and of Scott and your girls.” ❤️

        • Lynn Morrissey

          Amen Trudy (not to me 🙂 ), but what you have said to Jen!

    • So awful. I know. But I will chose to wear the God-applied labels. Thanks Trudy. You are so sweet to me.

  • Are those people even real? I have my doubts. But real or paid responders, I’m not sure which sickens me more. I find a measure of hope in all the people that read your article (actually read it), embraced it and did not leave a comment. The number far more than the comments represented. Kudos to you for staying focused and using this as a teachable, encouraging moment!

    • I wonder if you’re right, June. Until I read your comment yesterday, that possibility hadn’t occurred to me. But like you said, I’m not sure which sickens me more. In any case, thanks for being here with encouraging words.

  • Who can call you “Jenny” and then say mean things? I mean, at least insult someone with proper formality and etiquette. That’s Mrs. Lee to you! 😉 You took lemons and made lemonade. You took insult, injury, and bad intent and charged them head on with grace, tact, and integrity. I suggest that you are just what this world needs. But since this world isn’t our home (holla!), I suggest you’re just what God’s kingdom needs. xoxo

    • I know! That was just STRANGE. Thanks Tiffany. I love having you in my corner. xo

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Well, I gotta tell you, Jennifer: I’m nonplussed! I read your piece wide-eyed, mouth unceremoniously agape. I would re-read it to see if I had misread it, but I know I didn’t. You were clear. Still, I’m totally amazed. Really. And I just went over there and read all that (mostly) garbage (is that a label?), and I am staggered. This is the news site trusted by Christians? I’m wondering if these are Christians who are commenting? I won’t label them that. (It would be undeserving). I’ll just say none of it reflects the bible–including on submission, because it’s a gross twisting of that beautiful truth. Jennifer, please know I would have commented there, but it required me to make an account, and I’m so untechnological etc. I would have written on the site to support *you*, but my husband said no one will care. And he said people didn’t care what you had to say as soon as they saw you didn’t support Trump. They stopped reading . . . and, I might add, they stopped reasoning. I’m not complaining right now about those who voted for Trump. I believe that many sincere Christians did. But what is not tolerable is the viciousness expressed in the vast majority of their comments (and the inanity of them). Good grief. They missed the entire point of your essay. Anyway, may I just label you as courageous, noble, sensical, and lover of God and of Scott and your girls? Will you accept those labels?!
    Love
    Lynn

    • It’s craziness. It’s like they didn’t even read the article. Today, someone called me a “dirtbag of the highest order.” What in the world!

      • Lynn Morrissey

        I shared this w/ Michael (all the sentiments–he’s wasn’t going to read it all :-)), and he said they will NOT listen. they have it in their head to support the president no matter what, and so they tune out. He said it doesn’t really matter what you say. And it’s obvious that those who accused you of championing abortion had NOT really read carefully. From the get-go, they’d labeled you as liberal, and that was that. I’m glad thought that still this got published more broadly.

  • Jennifer, I read your beautiful, and might I add sensible, post here, and had no idea Fox had picked it up and run with it. I’m finding it so hard to swallow some of the hateful comments you received because of your honest take and candor, and the power of love to overcome differences, even, and perhaps especially, in a marriage.
    Hate, I’m finding, is rampant out “there.” But as Christians, we can never give up on showing love and kindness to others, knowing our only true label is “Child of God.” I’m praying for the haters, that God might touch their hearts and convict them that the only way to truly live fully is to do so in love.
    Sending you love!

    • I appreciate you so much, Martha. Thanks.

  • Angela Howard

    Love to you Jennifer! Your words are the very words I have shared with my children in this season. You’ve put it so beautifully. Take heart, Jesus has overcome and we all appreciate you for being brave and speaking the truth in love.

    • You are so kind, Angela. Thanks so much.

  • Thea

    You are brave Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your views and for calling for unity. Thank you for also encouraging us to listen to the labels that God has given us above the labels the world has.
    Thank you for not believing their unkind words.
    We must pray for those who did not respond in kindness.
    Bless you and your family.

  • Lynn B.

    How timely “The Happiness Dare” has been for these days! I was so blessed to be on your launch team. Thank you for leading so many to see the need to be infused with brave happiness.
    We are living in some mean times but we will not be overcome by hate.

    • I totally agree. Taking that dare was more than the writing of a book. It was the way of living a life. Thanks Lynn.

  • Rebecca Presnell

    Way to rise above! Love you, my friend in Christ! I have to admit, I’d be one of the first to kick off my shoes, roll up my sleeves, and throw some down and dirty throatpunches…just sayin! I’m not sure of my heart could take reading the disparaging comments about a woman such as you.

  • Vicki_L_Hale

    I’m 48. Does that make me an “older woman”? LOL I’m single. But the Bible just says older women, not older wives, right? Don’t listen to people spouting patriarchal heresies. That’s my “teaching” for you today. Go find yourself a good, liberal, mainline church. One that ordains women fully. One that doesn’t grade you on your homemaking skills (or on your lack of a home, or lack of a husband, or lack of children…). Also: March 8! Women’s strike! Put it on your calendar…

    • You’re not TOO old as far as I’m concerned, Vicki. I’m 45. 🙂 We’re just kids, if you ask me. 😉

  • My almost 9-year old daughter has been struggling with this at school. Friends suddenly labeling others and making fun of them, and sometimes her. She’s my “hey, that’s not very nice,” stand up for people girl …which makes it so important for me to swoop in and teach her tolerance and compassion for those that really aggravate us and hurt us. That’s tough. And I read her the last part of your post, because though we don’t talk about politics we do deal with labels. She said, “that was really good, mom.” Jennifer, I appreciate your faithfulness so much. thank you for putting yourself and your family out there, so we can all see a little glimpse of how Jesus would handle Internet trolls. Love, friend! Happy Thursday!

    • So kind of you, Meg. I always appreciate you. You’re such a dear-heart.

  • Julie

    I loved your original essay, and I love this essay. Here are the truths I know about myself from God: I am seen, chosen, justified, loved, adopted, beloved. Do I fight to believe these things daily? Yes. Do these things change? No. Keep telling the truth, Jennifer. We are listening. That is all.

  • Susan

    His banner over me is HOPE!

  • Leanna

    I loved this essay. I love your writing and your honesty. And your “REALNESS” (is that a word?) anyway you are right. The only labels that stick are the ones we allow to stick. Like Max Lucado’s Book “You are special”.

    • Oh, I love that book! Thanks Leanna.

  • Marcia Moston

    Good for you. Guts and grace.

    • Thanks for reading along, Marcia.

  • Mary

    We were just talking about labels at church on Sunday. We were given a name tag that says Hello My Name is… and we were supposed to finish that sentence. So today, Hello My Name is Enough! 😘

    • Nice! Do you know the song by that name?

      • Mary

        I do know that song by Matthew West but honestly didn’t think about it until you asked me.

      • The song is awesome! It’s called Child of the One True King! So good!! Love you💗
        https://youtu.be/ZuJWQzjfU3o

  • Jennifer, my friend, As an older woman let me counsel you……Keep on writing the good stuff…the stuff that matters. Labels pasted on you by people are not labels worth worrying about. Yes, that is easy to say and is so hard to believe, but it is so true.
    Your heart is that of a Godly woman and your words reflect that. I am not sure why people feel the need to tear others down when they don’t agree. Good thing we don’t live for the opinions of people but rather for the “well-done” of the Savior.
    And my label is “Beloved”.

    • That’s good advice, Faye. Thank you.

  • Bettie G

    I am so grateful for the kindness that always oozes out of all of your writing. You are a true witness for the Grace of God. Thank you for sharing words from His heart!

  • Trish

    It’s a shame that none of the naysayers will ever get the opportunity to know your heart personally. It would make all the difference. Those who are fortunate enough to breathe the same air as you and your family understood every word to be honest, loving and thought-filled. Praise God for holy “goo be gone” washing off the gunk and leaving only the original beauty.

    • Thanks Trish. That means a lot!

  • Penny

    Love and peace and hugs. Sometimes it’s hard to be heard and fully understood in a non listening and misunderstanding world. God knows who we are and what’s in our hearts and on our minds and what’s best for us. And that’s what’s most important.

  • Beloved! Jesus said it on the cross…we are beloved! Those negative “labelers” cannot steal your happiness 🙂 You go, girl.

  • Lisa Amyx

    Just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you! My daughter flipped out on me yesterday and is blaming me for all the bad things in her life. I keep thinking the way she treats me is a reflection of my character. The only thing I’ve done wrong is allow her and her father to walk on me and treat me poorly. It’s a reflection of them not me. Thank you. I will believe God’s label as his beloved rather than theirs.

    • So sorry for what you’re going through. And I’m glad my words could encourage you a little bit, Lisa.

  • Thank you for this. Regarding labels, I’ve had the honor of teaching a Bible study in our little winter home, Whispering Pines Village, and in it, we’ve been studying Genesis since the genesis of the year. One of the highlights has been Gen. 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” All of us have exactly the same top line, top branch in our family tree…”And Adam was the son of God.” When we look in the mirror we should see the family resemblance of Him looking back at us…when we look at one another, if we look as He looks, we will see others, not as adversaries, but as brothers and sisters…family. And that is a label we can live with.

    • I love that, Doug. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lucy Ann Moll

    Accepted.

  • JosephPote

    I am God’s Redeemed!
    “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by my name. Thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
    What a beautiful post, Jennifer! Praying for you that God will continue to strengthen and encourage you. Thank you for promoting unity and love in disagreement…peace in adversity.

    • Thanks for your kind words and this great verse, Joseph.

  • I’m always asking for what my good response should be. Life brings me good stuff and life brings me bad stuff. I ask the Lord to give me good responses. What you have given here is an EXCELLENT response!

  • Suzanne

    My husband sent me your article from Fox News. We, too, are a “politically divided household.” And we, too, knew that when we got married 10 years ago. And this political season has been hard. I’m a pastor (in Iowa!) who often pastors “politically divided congregations.” Just wanted to say thanks for your article. It was wonderful! Just what we need to hear. And thanks for this article, too. Glad you’re not letting the trolls get to you, and thanks for the additional lesson about how to deal with other people’s labels. I look forward to reading more from you.

    • Pastor Suzanne! Welcome. A joy to meet you here. Where in Iowa? I’m in the far northwest corner, and for the first time in our church’s 125-year history, we also have a female pastor.

      • Suzanne

        I’m in Carson and Oakland, Iowa, a little east of Council Bluffs. And before that, I was at Atlantic, Iowa (I’m an interim pastor). How great about your pastor. Hope it went okay because change can be hard :). I’ve shared your post on my Facebook feed, and people are very appreciative (although one person was concerned about the comments — I posted the link to this post, too). Blessings on your ministry with words!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    I agree with June, below. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of the commenters weren’t legitimate responders. The angst between parties has grown so strong, some people stoop to dishonest tactics just to spew their vitriol. God bless you, Jennifer, for standing strong behind the Lord your Shield. Your name is Teflon! Nothing sticks to you but GOD’S labels (and ours, too?) of loved, cherished, and SO approved!

    • Thanks, Nancy. I’ll take the Teflon label. 🙂

  • PeoplePower777

    Dear Friend
    Reading your article gave me hope…
    Please continue the conversation on Uniting our Communities
    (I started this conversation in our city in 2014)
    Hope this information on this blog post (see below) help you to continue your efforts
    Take care my friend and May Peace be with you <3
    http://unitingtheusa.blogspot.com/

  • Lynn Mosher

    Jennifer, as always…gracious! I do not understand…no matter which side of Trump one is one…the necessity for name calling. The vitriol is mind-blowing. There is no excuse to berate someone just because s/he has a contrary opinion. Praying God keeps your heart and mind guarded from the venom. ❤

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  • Tim Engstrom

    I label you a good writer. I enjoyed reading your post.

  • Krista Borntreger King

    Simply beautiful! Thanks for inspiring our hearts to remember this truth as it’s so easy to allow ourselves to live our lives by labels.

  • Dianne Garbaccio

    Really? I am astounded by the name calling – did these people not read what you wrote? Do they not understand what you said? How did they come to their conclusions? Thank you Jennifer for sharing your honest disagreement in your home where you accept each other’s differences and continue to love and support each other, so healthy and honest. So grateful you are not a doormat! God bless. Di

  • June

    Thank you so much for this. I hope people read it with and open heart and an open mind. Loved it!

  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    You wrote this so well, Jennifer. Love & hugs friend. xoxo

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