WE all receive insults. We know what it is to be offended and hurt by the words of others. Over the course of my ministry life I have received many unpleasant messages. The majority of them are simply because I am a female minister.
I always tend to ignore such negativity and move on, but one particular blog caught my attention. I remember sipping my coffee and reading the article in which the author called me a “bizarre feminist character”. I shared the blog with some friends, and one particular friend responded with “I’m going to get that printed on a T-shirt for you.”
We always have that one friend. Humour has this amazing ability to keep me sane in the midst of the chaos.
A while back I received a rather nasty message calling me a...— Rev Karen Sethuraman (@KarenSethuraman) March 30, 2021
‘Bizarre Feminist Character’
Because I am a Female Minister
In the midst of all the positive support - there’s always that one friend who says .. I’m putting that on a T-shirt for you! 😂 😂
What a response! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/prxE4Ho0yf
We laughed and I brushed it off (as I usually do). However, last week a parcel arrived and when I opened it there was a cool black T-shirt with the words ‘Bizarre Feminist Character.’ The gift made my day. I shared a picture of my new T-shirt on social media and nothing prepared me for the response from the many people saying they would love to wear it (including my daughters).
Behind the t-shirt is a story…
As I read the many responses to the t-shirt, I couldn’t help but think of my friend who made it for me. I know her story. I rang her and told her about the response and suggested we get 100 T-shirts made and give the profits to a charity of her choice. The lady who made the T-shirt for me is called Claire.
She agreed and encouraged me to share her story. Claire had been a victim of domestic violence. She had to flee (with her precious daughter) from an abusive relationship, and Women’s Aid helped them both get settled into a new home and a new life. I had no doubt that Women’s Aid would be the charity of her choice.
Also, with recent events highlighting violence against women and girls, we both felt this would be a small way to give something back. I made a few phone calls and managed to get someone to make our T-shirts. We then advertised on social media that we had 100 ‘Bizarre Feminist Character’ T-shirts available and all profits would go to women’s aid.
The T-shirts sold out within three hours.
What I have learned about receiving unpleasant messages is that we can take the stones thrown at us and use them to build a better path. The messages received teach me to live better, listen more, to be careful in what I say, and how I react.
Why? Because words can harm. The idea of the ‘Bizarre Feminists’ tees proves that what is intended to hurt and harm can turn into goodness. We simply took an insult and used it to raise money for a well-deserved charity. I was moved by the number of women who contacted me to share their story of domestic abuse and how women’s aid helped them too.
I am a human being who gets angry, hurt and feels pain.
But so are my enemies.
I’m on the Springfield Road tonight helping the community calm a crowd of angry youths.— Rev Karen Sethuraman (@KarenSethuraman) April 8, 2021
It was so humbling to watch these community activists who had stones etc thrown at them👇stand at Lanark Way ...seeking to prevent the youths getting to the peace wall to fight.#Heroes pic.twitter.com/CkNjIfVmeu
The people who pen such messages are human too. Jesus said, "Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst." (Matt 5:44 MSG.)
There is just something beautiful and healing about turning what was intended for harm into goodness. I’m thankful for my friend Claire. Her words and story speak louder than any insult. And, hey, who knows? We may just create more t-shirts to raise money for charity.