Dear Christian Readers: We Won't Always Agree

I like people to like me. Who doesn't? Anyone who says they don't care at all what anyone thinks of them is either lying or has been famous for a long time. The problem with this is, if I was always thinking about whether something I write is going to offend people, I would never get anything down on the page. My fingers would get blocked up and cramped up and the screen would sit empty and blank until the swirling colors of a screen saver came on, and I would still be sitting, staring, wondering whether 'ass' is an acceptable enough low-grade swear word that it won't make the conservative Christians who read my stuff unfollow me.

Good writers have a voice. Actually, most writers have a voice, whether good or bad. The difference between the two often comes down to how authentic, unique, and genuine that voice is.

So I'm writing this letter to you, Christian readers of my blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, and future novel(s) because I don't want to lose you. I don't want you to quietly block me on social media or unsubscribe from my mailing list.

But it's okay if you do. I'm giving you permission. Because I know we don't always agree, and I know that you have a million options for things to read, so it's okay if my things don't make it to the list.

Just in case you're not convinced that you have to flounce away from this letter just yet, let me tell you what you can expect from me.

I'm not going to offend you on purpose.

That's not my bag. There is enough on the Interwebz that makes your heart hurt and your face flush with anger. It's never my goal to be one of the causes of that reaction. So rest assured, if you are offended by something I say, it wasn't the goal on my part. Let's talk about it! Comment on the post or send me an email. I'd love to have the conversation.

I might will swear.

Look, I've lived outside the USA for a long time. In the UK and Australia, swearing isn't just common -- it's a naturalized part of everyday conversation. I have always had a tendency to talk like the people I spend a long time around, whether I want to or not. Seriously, two years ago, I never would have said "Far out". After a year of being married to a man who says it regularly, it's become part of my everyday vocabulary.

This might seem like an excuse to you, but it's really not. I swear out loud because I've gotten used to it and only think it's offensive if you say it in front of a person whom it offends. I swear in writing because I have an aversion to taking any words off the table when I'm constructing a sentence, and you know what? My characters swear. If I try to make some of them not swear, they give me a look kind of like this:

So you can see my dilemma here. I know a lot of you hate the swears, and I used to be one of you, so I really get it. If you can't handle any swearing whatsoever, then you're probably not going to appreciate my novel. And while my posts are probably barely deserving of a PG-13 rating, if you can't handle that, it's cool. We can still be friends in real life even if we can't be on social media anymore. After all, that's probably how it started with us anyway.

I'm going to mess up.

Let's just be real -- I already have. I've said things and later thought better of it. I've poked fun when I should have come alongside someone with gentler words. Now that our opinions are a few keystrokes and a click away, it's easier than ever to put our feet in our mouths on the regular. I'm sorry if I've said something that hurt you or made you feel sucky. That's not my intent. See point #1. Talk to me if I do and who knows? Maybe I won't realize how crappy my words were until you point out why.

I will never mock Christian beliefs, but I may occasionally challenge religion.

We all know there's a difference between those two things. Most of my posts don't have much of a faith-centered bent, but that doesn't mean I no longer have faith. It just means I'm choosing to express it in new ways. That being said, if someone claiming Christianity is saying that God told them to deport all the gay people to Mars, then I will probably make fun of that.

I am always ready to have a conversation with you.

Just to reiterate, if I say something you don't like or agree with, please don't message my friends or family to complain about me (it's happened). Comment on the post and tell me off, by all means. Or, even better, shoot me an email and maybe we can have a real grown-up conversation about it. I would love to.

Well, that's it for me, dear Christian Readers. I hope I haven't lost you all, and I hope you'll comment if you have any questions. We can have a virtual cup of coffee and hash this thing out.