Grace, It's What Women Give To Each Other
Grace, in the secular sense is best defined as courteous goodwill. This is a quality possessed by the women friends in my life. This week, I got to experience grace-in-action from women that I don’t even know.
I’d won an award for a blog that I’d written, entitled, We Matter At Every Age. The contest and award was sponsored by Story Circle Network, a group of women whose mission it is to help women find their voice and tell their story. This organization supports women who write. They do it with education, publications and contests, like the one I entered. I was honored to receive an award and acknowledgement from Story Circle Network. They are central to my literary community and I believe in their mission.
A local writer friend was kind enough to give Story Circle Network and me a shout out on Face Book about the award. Very sweet, and then came the troll. I haven’t been trolled very often and didn't pay too much attention to the troll. He was obviously a wounded, angry and out-of-balance individual who probably doesn’t have or doesn’t feel much love in his life. He got onto the thread where my friend and her friends were posting congratulations and wrote: “Literary prizes mean nothing. Real literature means everything.”
I felt bad for the guy. There was pain written all over his post and unfortunately when you haven’t dealt with your own pain, what comes out is meanness toward others – a maybe you can make them hurt as much as you do attitude. Criticism is really the worst of any of us. Holding ourselves up as if someone in charge has died and left us to be the standard bearer of the world, is not a job that engenders an open heart. Criticism, without kindness and insight has no real value. It’s basically just getting your digs in on someone else because you feel so bad about yourself.
Here’s where grace comes in – the woman who posted tried to set the guy straight and tell him that I was a wonderful, authentic writer. Then other women, who I don’t know and have never met, circled the wagons, offering the protection of kindness toward me while backing off the troll. They gave me grace – courteous goodwill. But the troll continued on, writing that it was all “guff,” because that’s what trolls do. They don’t understand heart or humility.
The take-away from this encounter had nothing to do with the troll. He didn’t hurt my feelings or bother me. He just revealed so much about his life in that one reactive sentence: “Literary prizes mean nothing. Real literature means everything.”
The prize awarded me by Story Circle Network meant a lot to me. There is a tremendous amount of talent in that community of writers. There’s a camaraderie and fellowship of women who support, encourage and uplift other women. As for what constitutes “real literature,” that’s a matter of opinion and debate. I read the kinds of books that I like and they enrich my life in some small or large way. I like everything from cozy mysteries to lay-theology. Having published two books, and edited a third, I know how hard the writing, the quest for authenticity and the completing of a book, can be. I have respect and admiration for all those who put themselves out there.
I've never thought that my blog was particularly literary – like other blogs that I read, it's about slice of life moments. What I know is this: Women everywhere are finding and sharing their voice -- it's about time. And grace is what women give to each other in support and encouragement. Grace is what good women aspire to, a courteous goodwill. That’s what those women that I didn’t even know did for me when the troll took aim, they gave me grace. Honestly, getting trolled was worth the price of admission to feel the warmth of those women. I feel hopeful and inspired by their goodness. May I always be that welcoming to the women who I meet in my life.