Last week, I went to Rachel Held Evans’ workshop: How To Turn Hate Mail Into Origami. She confessed to giving more time and emotional weight to the few negative comments than the many positive ones that come her way. This isn’t surprising because the brain is hardwired to notice threats – a life-saving tactic when dealing with lions, tigers, and bears without getting eaten, but not so good for coping with blog rants. So she prints out the hurtful comments and folds them up, making flowers and foxes out of scathing Amazon book reviews and hurtful tweets. Reviews come and go, she said. Spend at least as much time on the positive comments as the negative, apologize when what you write is wrong. Focus on the writing rather than the reaction. Stay grounded in what’s real: family, friends, the life you live and love. Develop a tough hide, but don’t lose your tender heart. Fold the bad into origami boats and trees.
When I saw Rachel’s origami, I couldn’t see the criticisms and insults. The words weren’t in any kind of readable order, and much of the writing was folded inward, invisible to the eye. Not gone, just not the focus or the final creation. It takes time and attention to create origami out of insult and hurt, but it takes almost as much time and attention to create origami out of blank paper. Since most of us are no longer blank pages, and nearly all of us have some hurt inked on our lives, folding these into something beautiful isn’t just a good coping mechanism: It’s a symbol of how even imperfect and damaged lives are made new and beautiful when held in loving, wise hands.
[Rachel Held Evans is a blog writer (rachelheldevans.com) and the author of Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, and A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’.]