Jessica wrote a beautiful post about why she doesn't regularly post her baby bump photos. Of course, being an occasional baby bump photo sharer kind of gal, I was intrigued. Her reasoning for not showing pregnant photos of herself is because she is very sensitive to the fact that other women (even her sisters) have such struggles with infertility that she doesn't want to hurt them. A very noble and compassionate outlook, indeed. But, I have to say I don't feel the same way as Jessica (can we still be friends?). I understand her point of view, and I appreciate it, yet I think it's okay to celebrate the good things in life, like new babies or loving marriages or happy children or a successful career without feeling guilt that someone reading may not have those blessings in their life.
Are we not allowed to be thankful and joyful in what is good in our lives? Perhaps, only if we do so in private? I know that misery loves company, and I can see it so clearly in social media when a mom of many littles complains about how hard her day is, or a wife implies that her husband is driving her crazy. We sympathize with them, we might even empathize with them. We feel like they let us in on a little secret in their life and it draws us closer together. So sharing the bad can be good, but does that mean sharing the good is bad?
We all have our own hangups and sensitivities, we're human. I know I am overly sensitive when someone says they had a "panic attack" using the dirty public restroom or shopping in a crowded store. After having real panic attacks that sent me to the hospital, I don't like when people equate being nervous or stressed to having an actual panic attack. To me, it's like saying they broke their arm when in fact they just bruised it. But, like I said, I'm overly sensitive to this phrase, because it affected my life so deeply. This is why I can understand that someone who is suffering from one of the greatest crosses I can imagine, infertility, may be sensitive to seeing pregnancy photos or baby news all the time. While we should always try to be nice and courteous and loving, we are still probably going to offend someone who is suffering. You show me photos from your vacation? I'm sad because we can't afford to take one. You write about homeschooling victories? I'm feeling guilty because I have to work. You pin handmade decorations, and I berate myself for not being crafty or having a beautiful house.
So what's the answer?
I think the answer is knowing who you are dealing with and in what capacity. The problem with blogs, Facebook, twitter, or any other social media is that you never know who is reading and who might be sensitive to what you are writing. This is simple in real life. I would never sit face to face with a friend and brag about how romantic my husband is if I know she is going through a divorce. That would just be rubbing salt in her wound. However, if I wanted to write about my husband's romantic gestures as part of my online scrapbook, even if I knew that same friend reads it, I think that would be okay. They aren't stuck in a conversation with me, they are free to read or not read, and I wouldn't be the wiser. It's like my husband says in his role as a Catholic high school teacher "I would never teach a theology class about the immorality of abortion in the same way that I would talk to a woman frightened and alone and considering an abortion." You have to know your audience.
And when authors don't always "know" our exact audience, and readers don't always "know" the author, that's when we have to realize that it's okay for people to talk about their life, spread their joy, and understand they aren't doing it AT us. They aren't trying to make us feel bad. If we could give everyone a little benefit of the doubt and try and overcome our own fallen nature then maybe selfishness and jealousy and materialism would eventually be sins of our past. Maybe we could see their happiness and feel their joy and truly be excited for them, without turning it back onto ourselves and comparing what we don't have. As Blessed Pope John Paul II said "Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."
In a world where spouse- bashing is a typical conversation, and babies are treated as commodities, and horrible news stories are being reported daily, I think the world could use a little more celebrating. A little more of the good stuff. So, this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.