Dear Christians

The other day, when Mo Brooks was trending for implying that people who live good lives don’t get sick (he did admit later that many people have preexisting conditions through no fault of their own) I commented on someone’s tweet by tweeting “A pastor’s wife told my friend, ‘your son has diabetes because you and your husband must have sin in your life.'”

Twitter being what it is, my tweet was retweeted by indignant antitheists with the alacrity I always hope for with my lonely, unretweeted writer-tweets. Of course, now the tweet was out of context and out of my control.

You might think that my “Dear Christians” is going to be a letter warning you about tweeting ammunition for atheists. It is not. I’m begging you not to get so conceited about your relationship with God that you think you understand his reasons for doing anything. You don’t know why your friend’s son is sick. You don’t know why someone died in an accident. There are so many Bible passages that warn of this conceit. The entire book of Job, where God gets mad at Job’s friends for telling Job that he was sick because he sinned; John chapter 9, where people ask whether a man or his parents sinned, and Jesus says that the man was ill in order to show the power of God and not because of sin; Luke chapter 13, where men ask Jesus what sin some other men committed that caused them to be crushed by a falling tower and Jesus says (my paraphrase) that they have a lot of nerve thinking they aren’t just as sinful.

This same pastor’s wife (and I know a lot of pastor’s wives, so if you know me please don’t try to guess) had a lot of good qualities, but she also claimed to know what a dream I had meant. I went from thinking God had called me to do something to second-guessing myself when she said, “No, that dream meant you’re supposed to help people who have gotten spiritually sidetracked.” I never pursued what I had woken up thinking God had called me to do.

The funny thing about my tweet was that I was immediately followed by angry atheists who thought I was one of them. The thing is, I AM angry about Christians who tell others that they have bad things happen in their life because of sin. These same Christians often decide that the bad things that happen to THEM are sent by Satan because they’re getting too powerful for God’s kingdom.

I sincerely hope that my new atheist friends don’t unfollow me when they see me tweet a Bible verse or something. These are people who have been seriously harmed by Christians. I’ve noticed that most people don’t blame wars on religion unless they have ALSO received deeply personal injuries from people in the church. They may have been assaulted by clergy, not received any grace from their parents, or simply had a Christian acquaintance tell them in passing that their illness was punishment for sin.

Atheists have plenty of ammunition against Christians. I don’t regret what I tweeted. I’d rather get it out there that yes, people within the church say unbiblical and hurtful things, and we’re sorry! My tweet was not retweeted because it was news to anyone, it was retweeted because so many people related to it.

Dear Christians,

Let’s read our Bibles. Let’s speak in love and let others figure out what God is saying to them. Let’s be humble about how many years it takes to really understand His word and be very, very careful with our words before fully understanding.




What I Learned in My First Month Trying to Sell Books on Twitter

I signed up for Twitter long ago, but not until last month did I really start using it. I decided to make a concerted effort to get traffic to my blog and sell some books. My rise to fame would be earned one witty, kind, or well-hashtagged tweet at a time.

Here’s what I have learned this month.

Famous people don’t click on your profile.

If I say something witty enough on Steve Martin’s or Mindy Kaling’s page, they will comment or start following me and commenting on mine, right? Then they’ll wonder about my books. Then they’ll buy one. Then they’ll love it. Then they’ll tweet about it! Wrong. Some celebs don’t run their own Twitters, but those who do are too busy for me.

No one clicks on your blogs.

Unlike celebrities, regular people might click on your profile. Yay! However, they won’t go so far as to actually read one of your blogs. After my success on Facebook, I was a little surprised at this. I even watched the trending hashtags and yelled “I HAVE A BLOG ABOUT THAT” and tweeted it out quickly, before the hashtag stopped trending. No one has retweeted my blog yet. (Except my awesome friend Robin.)

People retweet the most random things.

After all my hashtagging and positive comments on people’s tweets, what gets retweeted? Some stupid hashtag game answer. Not even my best ones. Lame ones. Nothing about writing or the Bible or music or politics. “Girl put your jacket on #makeasongfreeze” or some such crap.

It takes longer than a month.

I have watched the impressions and clicks on all my tweets carefully. While I’ve had some profile clicks, I don’t think I can trace a single book sale back to Twitter. I was going to say that Twitter doesn’t work for selling books unless you’re already famous, but I guess I don’t have enough evidence to claim that. Maybe I suck at Twitter. Or more optimistically, maybe it just takes longer than a month.