Hello beloved OC.net family. I just wanted to express myself a little bit here, hopefully in a Christian manner. I'm tired. I feel beat down, discouraged, embittered, frustrated, and quite frankly confused. This forum used to be a refuge from the worries and struggles of daily life, a place to learn more about Orthodoxy, a place to meet other Orthodox online friends, a place to hone my ideas and have strong, good natured debate. But lately I dread logging on to OC.net.
I realize that I have strong opinions and controversial views, and I have never shied away from them. I admit that I have not always communicated my thoughts in the most Christian manner, but I can assure you that I do try to choose my words carefully. But I get so worn down by the all too often occurence of people manipulating and twisting my words so that they can levy a personal attack against me. And then, when I dare to mention that I feel that I'm being unfairly attacked, I of course receive a flood of armchair psychoanalysis whereby I'm accused of feeling victimized, etc. I have only appealed to a moderator once or twice since I have been a member of OC.net. I feel that I should be able to defend my views against even the most unfair attacks without running and crying to a "referree." So I get quite frustrated with the frequent accusations from some people that I am playing the victim.
And one thing that makes me especially sad is this: I always try to separate the argument from the individual. No matter how strongly I may disagree with someone, I view everyone here as my Christian brother and sister. I make a special effort to find common ground with my philosophical opponents on innocuous threads like "Random Postings," "What Movies Are You Watching?," "What's Everyone Listening To?," etc. I often see people with whom I may have similar interests or tastes, and I try to acknowledge that in an effort to show them that I don't harbor any personal animus towards them in spite of our differences of opinion on separate threads. So it makes me sad when some people refuse to accept these olive branches that I try to extend their way.
I realize that for some people this is all a game. Online debate is merely an amusement for them, and the more they can get somebody riled up, then they feel they have "won." I guess I was naive about that. I didn't understand that. I take these issues of faith and morality, life and death, theology and Scripture very seriously. I am here to learn, and I learn by speaking my mind, putting forth my views, and hoping that I will be challenged, sharpened, and strengthened by others who are doing the same.
I am not looking for sympathy or even understanding. I just want to say how tired I feel lately. I am not going to be one of those people who posts "I Am Leaving OC.net," in spite of the fact that some may be praying for me to do just that. lol.
It may be best for me to spend less time here for a while. But I hate to see my views and words distorted and manipulated by others without defending myself and setting the record straight. You see, I don't use a pseudonymn. I use my baptism name and I have my own picture as my avatar. I do so because I don't want to hide behind a false name and a false image that would give me license to say things that I otherwise would never say. So what you read from me is the real thing- good and bad. It comes from an honest place, even if that honesty is not always tempered by Christian grace as it should be.
Anyway, I just felt the need to express my feelings a little bit. Believe it or not, OC.net is a sort of family to me. I feel a connection with all of you, which is why I am so disturbed right now. You all matter to me, because you are my brethren in Christ. So it dampens my spirit whenever honest disagreement turns into personal attacks and petty bickering. And I certainly accept my share of the blame for such.
Many of you on OC.net have been extremely gracious and kind to me. There are many of you who have some profound disagreements with me about important matters, and yet you have continued to treat me with love, courtesy, and respect. You choose to believe and assume the best about me rather than the worst. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your true Christian kindness. In fact, most of you here have treated me fairly and graciously.
Well, I don't want to ramble on any further. I usually try to compose my words with a little bit of flow and meter, so as to make them readable. But I'm just too tired right now to do anything more that type as it comes out.
I love you all, and I sincerely ask your forgiveness for my many failures to communicate with Christ-like grace on this forum. I am always striving to do better, and I certainly have a long way to go.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. And please, by all means, do pray for me a sinner.
Peace to all.