Hurt Feelings

December 21, 2010

That’s what happened.  I got my feelings hurt, and it clogged the well of my writing.  I’ve been standing in the corner, as it were.  I know- it sounds very adult and self-actualized, doesn’t it?

Some of you saw the article which mentioned our family in the San Francisco Chronicle back in August.  Some of you probably don’t know about it.  The article itself was fairly sympathetic, but the comments were not.  It’s the first time that I’ve ever been discussed in any sort of public forum, and it was hard.  Like I said, I got my feelings hurt.  Not all of the comments were directed at us personally.  Some of them were about people “like us”.  But, some of them were personal.  While there were a (very) few kind comments, most of them were fairly critical.  Comments about people like us being self-righteous.  Comments about people like us playing at farming while the nanny takes care of the house and children.  Comments about the fact that we’re Christians.  I felt like my intelligence, integrity and judgment were being questioned- which was hard.

The comments stung.  I wish I could say that the comments rolled off me, but they didn’t.  In time, I hope to get to that place.  That “thicker skin” place. But, as a newbie in the public forum, it was hard.  I don’t want to defend myself against all the accusations, but I do want to address the comment about people “like us” being self-righteous.  Frankly, it rings true.  My pastor has a PhD in Clinical Psychology.  He occasionally makes statements where you see this come out.  He recently said “Show me your strengths, and I can probably tell you what your weaknesses are”.  I think that when people (like me) are principled, then we can also tend to be judgmental and self-righteous.  As a Christian, this is absolutely wrong.  I don’t want to turn my atheist friends off by giving you a theological lecture.  But, I honestly can’t address this without bringing Christianity in.  Jesus used pretty strong language for people who are self-righteous or critical of others.

Some versions use the analogy of noticing a speck in someone’s eye when you have a plank in your own.

Here it is from The Message:

Matthew 7:  1-5

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults- unless, of course, you want the same treatment.  That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.  It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.  Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,” when your own face is distorted by contempt?  It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.  Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

So, if you find people who are self-righteous and judgmental to be insufferable, you’re in good company.  Jesus did, too.  Please hear me when I ask you to call me on it if I begin to wax judgmental.  God hates it when people are self-righteous- it separates us from God and from our fellow humans.

Meanwhile, I hope to be back at it.  Writing about things that I care about.  As we head into the next chapter of the Simpson Family odyssey, the well of ideas is deep.  And I’m getting my turtle shell ready for the next go-around.

Image by Adam Dawson via flickr used under a Creative Commons


10 Responses to “Hurt Feelings”

  1. Caryn Coleman Says:

    beautifully put. thank you!

  2. Bonnie Says:

    Wow Robin – I had no idea this had happened to you. I read the article and was struck by how unceasingly critical and sarcastic the comments were. Not exactly fair and balanced. My heart goes out to you. It is hard to deal with criticism like that. Glad you were able to publicly acknowledge it. Maybe that will help make it easier to move forward from it. Good luck with the house!

  3. Betsy Says:

    Robin- Once again i’m amazed and touched by your candor, your tenderness, and your willingness to speak the truth in love. Those of us who know you and watch you live your life with unflinching conviction day to day couldn’t help but be hurt right along with you by the stinging, unfounded criticisms that article brought your way. You were vulnerable and opened your heart and home- only to have really angry people REACT in your general direction. Very painful. I’m sad that your were hurt, but so proud of you for dusting yourself off and standing- by being willing to write and share your heart…again. I am constantly encouraged and challenged by things you write, and it would be a personal loss to me if you stopped writing. Please don’t let the wounded people in the world win by derailing you from what i believe is “mission” for you. It’s an amazing thing when those who know you best respect you the most.

  4. Christine Says:

    Robin-I’m so sorry you have had to experience this ugly side of the media. I read the SF Chronicle article when it came out and found it absolutely inspiring. It’s how I found your lovely blog and the Radical Homemaker book (which was fantastic). So, I for one, thank you for putting yourself out there so that others, who are interested in pursuing a similar path, can learn along side you. Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas season.


  5. Debbie Says:

    Hi Robin,

    I follow your blog (bet you didn’t know that 🙂 Being judgmental is human nature, everyone does it. All those people who left nasty negative comments in response to that article were being judgmental because they don’t really know the first thing about you and your family, and why you’ve chosen the path that you have. Most of the time, these type of negative and judgmental comments come out of dissatisfaction and insecurity in their own lives.

    Anyway, I admire what you’re doing, and wish you all the best with your next move. Good luck with the house!


  6. Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

    Thanks for all the very kind comments. I truly do appreciate it.

    I have to say that I don’t feel like this happened “to me”. It did at first, but it doesn’t now. Internet commenting is public, anonymous, and there is very little accountability. Charlie and I have made some counter-cultural lifestyle choices, and we hit a nerve. When you live a very different lifestyle, some people will take your lifestyle personally- as a sort of indictment. I get that.

    One of my concerns in writing this post is that I don’t want to discourage critical comments. In fact, I invite them. At the same time, in the range of human experiences, getting your feelings hurt happens. Sometimes it shuts you down, and I wanted to write about that.

  7. suzanne Says:

    hi robin-
    I am so sorry to hear that… I thought it was a wonderful article. one thing I’ve learned about the web is that on most of the blogs I read, I can’t stand to read the comments– especially the mainstream news media – and these comments aren’t even directed at me. keep writing! we want to hear from you.

  8. Andy Says:

    The old saying about “sticks and stones…but words will never hurt me” is a lie. As your brother, I can tell you that I’m very proud of you and the lifestyle that you and Charlie have chosen for your family. I have a deep and abiding respect for both of you and your precious children. I must tell you that I absolutely loathe the comments section of any newspaper. Our local paper comments section is particularly nasty…and people seem to go out of their way to prove how nasty they can be. I think this says something about our society and how base and crass it has become. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing or these mindless minions will have won.

  9. Caryn Coleman Says:

    here, here! Well said, good brother!

  10. I just wanted you to know that I just found that article today and was inspired by the mention of what you’re doing, so I hopped over here to meet you. I’m really enjoying reading about your journey. We have tried to take steps to self sufficiency over the last 3 years (beekeeping, gardening, canning, frugal living, etc) and are praying about what that will look like in 2011. I look forward to reading here again.

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