4 Reasons Why We Need to Drop ‘You Must Be Doing Something Right!’

Constance…this is a great article!  Please read it, and put its advice into practice.  I know for myself, sometimes here I have made pleas for support, for a kind comment, for an encouraging word, and they have not returned fruitful.  I thought it was just that people didn’t care, and only wanted the pretty poems and love songs to God…well, maybe it was just that we aren’t very good at it.

Anyway, I found it helpful myself, and am resolved to encourage, regardless of the actions of others.

Yours in Encouraging Words…Charissa


4 Reasons Why We Need to Drop ‘You Must Be Doing Something Right!’

Source: Picky Wallpapers

If you do social justice work – especially if you’re vocal in this simultaneously glorious and frightening world known as The Internet – you’ve undoubtedly suffered your fair share of abuse.

If you’re in a marginalized community, it’s likely come in the form of oppressive violence targeting your identity in an attempt to silence you.

And if you’ve refused to shut up and sit down, I imagine that you, like me, have experienced the terror of death and rape threats.

And if you’ve ever been vocal to your friends and family about your experiences, I’m going to bet that at least once in your life, someone has attempted to placate you by letting you know that “you must be doing something right” if you’re making people angry.

And, okay, I get their point.

Social reform doesn’t come easy. And attempting to affect the fundamental nature of society is, of course, by definition, radical.

I may have a complicated relationship with the word “radical,” but the truth of the matter is that questioning – let alone actively working to upset – the status quo is always going to be radical in nature. Because it makes people uncomfortable.

But there’s a big difference between making people uncomfortable and making them violently angry.

Making people uncomfortable? That’s part of the job. That’s a good sign that you’re doing something right.

People coming at you with death threats? Not the same thing.

And I don’t know about you, but when people apply the “you must be doing something right” band-aid to every instance of my feeling vulnerable and emotional, it has the opposite effect that they hope it will.

It doesn’t feel comforting and inspiring. It actually feels kind of trivializing – and even silencing.

So here are some reasons why you might want to drop “you must be doing something right!”

1. It Isn’t Necessarily True

I do values clarification-based education for a living. My job, day in and day out, is to run workshops where I challenge people to question their most deeply held beliefs around sexuality and relationships.

Facilitating affective learning is a skill – and it’s a hard one. It involves very consciously and deliberately bringing people to the edge of their comfort zones to offer them alternative perspectives. It also means (at least externally) withholding judgment, which includes in its bag of tricks a very practiced poker face.

Now, if I do my job correctly, people will walk out of my workshops with a little bit of anxiety and a whole lot to think about. They should leave there feeling challenged, but safe. They should feel that their worldviews were respected while also engaging in different viewpoints.

But sometimes that’s not what happens.

Sometimes I get that one student on an already stressful day who continually disrupts my lesson to assert their belief that – most commonly – people who stay in abusive relationships must like being abused or there are conditions under which people cannot say no to sex.

And sometimes when this student really grates on my nerves, I can lose my cool and say something snarky or otherwise assert my dominance as the leader in the room. It happens rarely, but it happens.

And that is the point at which I have failed.

Because that student is going to walk away having learned nothing except that the lady who came to their class to talk about domestic violence can’t follow her own ground rules around respecting others’ opinions.

In the case where someone feels unfairly disrespected by me, I have not “done something right.” If anything – and trust me, my supervisor would agree – I have done something wrong. And telling me that turning what could have been a teachable moment into a power struggle was appropriate actually isn’t helpful.

Look. We’re all human, and we are all expected to have these days where the weight of the world is simply too much to bear and we take it out on someone whose comment is our last straw, but that is not an indication that we have done something right.

It’s simply an indication that our work is still desperately needed.

Bringing people past the brink of discomfort is not what most of us are setting out to do – certainly not if we’re trying to affect real change.

And telling us that we “must be doing something right” just because we got into a verbal scuffle with someone diminishes the good, hard work that activists and educators are doing every day.

Instead, try this: “It sounds like you had a really rough day today. I’m sorry that that conversation escalated to a place that made both of you angry. The work that you do is greatly valuable and necessary – as is evident by this story. I’m glad you’re out there in the trenches. If you need anything, let me know.”

2. It’s Misunderstanding the Issue

I have friends – many of you are probably reading this now: hi! – who I greatly respect who sometimes I have huge disagreements with. Sometimes the articles that I share on Facebook become battlefields where groups are pitted against one another, trying to prove their points.

And we get passionate. And we get frustrated. And probably for a little while, we’re not one another’s biggest fans.

But then we calm down, we remember how awesome one another is, and we agree to disagree.

This can happen with strangers, too.

Sometimes people really do want to engage with you intellectually, even if the two of you completely disagree. Sometimes people really are looking for a debate, rather than a fight. And if you find those people hovering in your Twitter mentions, it’s okay to engage with them.

A conversation can be passionate without being threatening.

And while you might feel frustrated or misunderstood for a little while, usually these conversations don’t end in your feeling scared or dejected. They don’t inspire subtweets or venting text messages to your activist friends.

These aren’t the conversations we’re referring to when we go on a rant.

These are conversations that you expect and even sometimes invite. I – as naive and idealist as this arguably is – want to have conversations and work toward creating a better world. Sometimes that means debating.

Those are the times when, yes, I am “doing something right.”

But when some asshole on the Internet is calling me an ugly slut because I wrote an article about how grammar snobbery is oppressive, that’s a problem.

And when you lump a productive (albeit stressful) debate together with a straight-up attack and apply the same salve to those wounds, you’re missing out on a hugely important difference.

In one case, there is equal power in the conversation. In the other, one person is asserting control.

And when the latter happens, it doesn’t make me feel better to be told that I “must be doing something right.”

Instead, try this: “I know that you probably already know this, but that person had no right to say that to you. It was brave of you to engage in a conversation with them, but also remember that you deserve to take self-care, and it isn’t your job or responsibility to respond to trolls. You can call me to vent if you want to!”

3. It’s Dismissive

If I put up a Facebook status that says that I had a really difficult interaction with someone, particularly on the Internet, that resulted in my feeling uncomfortable at best and threatened at worst, the last thing I’m looking for is quote-unquote “validation” from someone letting me know that I “must be doing something right.”

What I need in a time like that is support.

If I’m reaching out to you – either directly, like in a text, or indirectly, like in a general post – it’s because I need something more substantial than a pat on the back.

And while I tend to be really, really good at specifically asking for the type of support that I need, most people are not. Most people will throw a general comment out into the void, hoping (consciously or subconsciously) that someone will come along and say or offer the right thing.

Rarely is “you must be doing something right” what they’re looking for.

Unfortunately, on top of the many other ways in which society has screwed us over, most of us were brought up thinking that we’re magically supposed to know how to solve every problem. It’s like we think we came equipped with problem-solving abilities at birth, and that if we can’t fix it, we must be failures.

So, for that reason, people feel really, really uncomfortable asking, “What kind of support do you need right now?”

Well, everyone except therapists and some other human service professionals, in my experience.

The impression that “you must be doing something right” can give is along the lines of “you’re strong enough to deal with this on your own” – which I don’t think has ever really made anyone feel much better.

So often, other people (especially women, especially women with other intersecting marginalized identities) that I’ve known have shared with me something that I’ve felt for my entire life, too: that they need space to feel weak sometimes.

The point is: Yes, we know we can get through this. But if I threw out a cry for help, it’s because I need help – not because I need a reminder of my strength or righteousness.

So help me.

Throwing out a pseudo-inspirational gem is dismissive of the severity of the problem that I’m having and of my need for support.

You don’t need to have a magic cure. But it certainly helps more when you offer me a life raft than when you remind me that I know how to swim.

Instead, try this: “I really want to support you right now, but I’m not sure what you need. Just remember, honestly, that I’m always here for you. Here’s my number in case you don’t have it. Maybe we could do dinner next week? Anything you want. Just let me know.”

4. It Implies That Abuse Comes with the Territory

I know that this is going to feel like a huge jump to make, but hear me out.

Something that I hear a lot working for a domestic violence agency is the idea that sometimes abuse is excusable – or at least something that simply needs to be tolerated.

From “they’re violent because they’re passionate because they love you so much” to “you live a good life and are well-taken care of, so this is a small price to pay,” some people hold onto the notion that we have to take the good with the bad – even when the bad is abusive.

So let me be the first to tell you: That’s bullshit.

Just like I make it clear to my workshop participants that no one deserves abuse ever, I want to make it clear to you activists out there that no one deserves abuse ever.

There is not a single thing on Earth that you can do that warrants being attacked – physically or emotionally.

And the implication that “you must be doing something right” in your activism if you’re on the receiving end of cruelty and threats is a dangerous one – because it implies that abuse comes with the territory.

Does abuse come with the territory? Unfortunately, yes.

Should it? Hell no.

And you should not be expected to tolerate it.

If you want to block @MRAsAreSoCool on Twitter, go ahead. If you want to disable your comments on YouTube, you can. If you want to shut off anonymous asks on Tumblr, that’s an option for you. If you need to unfriend some annoying acquaintances on Facebook, go for it.

And if you want to complain about abuse and expect your loved ones to support your liberty to be an activist without the threat of violence, that is in your right.

And no one – no one – should make you feel like you deserve (or should expect) it for “doing something right.”

Because when I’m doing a good job, I want a gold star or something (hey, I’m easy), not someone to tell me that they want to smash my teeth in.

And (shockingly!) that’s not an unfair expectation.

Instead, try this: “No one deserves to be talked to that way. I’m sorry that that happened to you. I know how frustrating this side of activism can be. If you want to talk about it over coffee, I’m down. Just remember that block features exist for a reason, and you’re not showing signs of weakness by not tolerating this kind of nonsense.”


When I’m in a stable place and a good mood, I can roll my eyes and laugh off some threats, knowing that all these people are doing is proving that my work is necessary.

But there are other times when I cannot contain my anger, my fear, or my tears.

And that’s okay.

But at the end of the day, when I’m crawling into bed, I already know that I’m doing something right – or else I wouldn’t be doing it.

Sometimes what I need to be reminded of is that my friends and family care about me, support me, and will defend my right to live fearlessly.

Give me more of that.

F.I.G. L.E.A.F.

Ever lived a life of cover-up?  A life that maybe you were even hiding from yourself?

I have.  And I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that I was authentic, honest, and transparent to God, others, and myself.

HA!!!  Just as my father and mother from eons ago, I had fig leaves for coverings.  A fig leaf is anything other than the glory of God that you take refuge in.  When the scripture says that Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed, it wasn’t talking about that they suddenly knew they had no clothes on!  What it meant was that the inner life of God, the Spirit of Life that Shines and gives Life had been extinguished…had died.

They had died, spiritually.  And now they were dim, burned out, diminished, and it was obvious to one another,  Thus, they sought a cover-up…fig leaf…just as we do to this day.

Thankfully, through the love and mercy of God Jesus who is the Second Adam has made a way for us to get a bulb change, and get our god-light turned back on, and gain in our confidence and faith in His work to the point where we can discard our fig leaves and stand boldly with unveiled faces.

But they are tricky…they are subtle and insidious…and of many and divers forms.  I guess I was/am sorta an expert in wearing them and hiding.  But no more!  🙂

As I was/am walking away from these, LG has given a funny little acrostic as listed below…do you see yourself there anywhere?  I know I said OUCH!

Love, Charissa Grace

F     ear
I     nsecurity
G     uilt

L     oneliness
E     xile
A     nxiety
F     rustration


An Armful of Loneliness

As you wandered,
boppin and beboppin
to the buzzy sounds
that breathed into your ears
the codes, the messages and melodies
of the age,
your earbuds
wrapped around you,
wrapped you in snaky coils.

You were royalty,
rich in plumage and
arms full of
your booty plundered
from the aisles and
displays of the latest…
cool, collected and sure.
I smiled and nodded
with sparkle eyes and hope,
and you saw,
flared your nostrils
as you caught
my prole-parole
scent and manner.

You graciously tipped
your china-delicate chin,
white and chisled
and went on your way,
arms full, head full, ears full…

of what?  Trinkets?  Treasure?

But I followed at a distance,
careful and sideways
so you wouldn’t see,
and when you trembled,
when you sighed,
when your heart
rose unbidden and cried out
“Is this all, is this all”,
I heard your subsonic scream,
and dogs howled.

And then I knew that
what looked like
an armful of wonder
was only

an armful of loneliness.



Beautiful King (Zephaniah 3:8-20, song from March 1992)

This song comes next here, for though I had written it a year earlier, I had not done it publicly, but rather worshiped it in private.  You see, some men in our congregation, influential and controlling guys who ran the congregation, got very uncomfortable with my songs…they were either too tender, or too tough, or too sappy, or too sharp edged.  Whatever.

It was very painful, and also confusing, for the sweet Holy Spirit would hover and draw so close, and when I did the songs with the downtrodden, they loved them!

So I had been holding out…but in the same meeting that Arise our God was played, this one was the song that led us upward again, and out of the trough of despondence and repentance and back to a place of hope and confidence in the Lord.

Later in the night (and after the obligatory drawing aside by the “leaders: to rebuke me for my over-emotional songs), Lady Grace drew near me, and as I cried myself to sleep She nestled over me and I knew that They were pleased, and that was enough.  (I never could figure it out…why they criticized virtually every single thing…and yet continually asked me to lead worship.  Go figure.  I guess it is evidence of the verses in Psalm 27

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”)…yeah…YES LORD.

PS:  there are 7 lines in each verse on purpose lol!

All ye who weep with hearts that are broken, lift up your eyes to your King
All who desire Holy Devotion, Bow you down, and call on His Name.
And He will give to you purified lips.
And you will give to Him purified lives.
And He will remove from you dullness of heart.
Pour out your lives to Him,
Your Beautiful King.

Shout for Joy, Oh Ye Daughter of Zion!  Shout in triumph, Oh Israel!
He has taken away all His judgements against you!  And He dwells in your midst, let not your hands fall limp!
He sings over you in joy, mighty and tender!
Victorious Warrior, gaze on His Splendour!
He turns all your shame to song, He brings us together!
Pour out your live to Him…
Your Beautiful King.


Arise our God! (Ps 44: 23-26. A song from July 1993)

Constance…I truly think this:  if you enjoy being in a good worship service, where there is freedom to sing and not a strict order to the service, but more a chorus oriented service, basically with the purpose of fostering devotion to God, then you would have loved being in a song service with me.  For years, that was my “thing”…leading worship.  And while I was deft in leading Sunday morning services, and setting the stage for the sermon and teaching, my forte was the Friday night devotional times, where there was one agenda…sing and worship the Lord freely and intimately.

These songs…oh wow…how they bring back times to me…I have tears right now as I remember this song, written during a time of intense trouble in our congregation as one of our leaders had fallen into deep trouble in ways I won’t even mention.  But we were hurting.  And that day I had been reading in Psalms, and the song erupted from me with tears…and oh how surprised I was as LG gave me the 2nd verse, and imparted to us a sense of mission, and determination to continue to follow, and press in.

Oh Dear Reader…if you have never been in a true worship situation, I am soo sorry to you.  You deserve the chance to taste and see that the Lord is good and only good.  I am so sorry that so many services are considered a success only if you leave more sour than you arrived, so many think that holiness is not holy if it isn’t severe and stark and flavorless.  That is a lie, but unfortunately that heresy has taken control in so many churches and it ends up inoculating people against God instead of infecting them!

Anyway…Arise Our God

Why do You hide Your Face, and forget our affliction, our oppresion?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust!  And so we cling to the ground.
Arise for our help, and redeem us!   For Your mercy’s sake!
For Your mercy’s sake!

Arise our God!
Arise our God!
Arise our God!
Hear Your people cry!

As the purifying fire consumes all our stubble and ambition,
Our hearts will not turn back, for we have chosen the Flame,
The Cross, and Your Name, so redeem us!  For Your mercy’s sake!
For Your mercy’s sake!


(intercessory prayer as Spirit leads)


A Love Song (May, 1981)

Wow, Constance…this journey I have been on the last several days, per LG’s exhortation to me to despise not my past, has been a mind blower…the things I have been thru…the growth, the reducing (both part of sanctification).

Don’t worry…I will get to some new poems I think, soon enough, but for now I am sorta sharing myself with myself, if that makes sense.

This song was written very shortly after my darling and I firmed up our wedding plans, and were officially engaged!  I read the lyrics, remember the time, but I don’t remember writing this, though it is my hand in my notebook…but omfg, the rhymes so trite, the p.o.v. so young, so callow…Ah Lord…teach us to number our days!  Honestly, I cannot even remember the melody of it.

Crappy song, true heart!!


The gentle touch you bring, like flowers in the spring
A twinkle in your eye, as we kiss ‘neath golden skies
These things are my love song…my simple love song to you.

I’ll sing in soft green meadowlands as we walk together hand in hand.
Yellow moon is the harmony–but you–you are the melody.
You’re beautiful, you’re the melody of my love song.

I’ve been given a priceless gift, your precious, gentle love.
A love that heals, and understands, how I thank the Powers above.
You’re more to me than just a lover true–with a love that never ends,
You’re my dearest darling–my companion–you’re simply my best friend.


I’ll cherish you in gentleness, ‘n touch your brow with my soft caress
I’ll laugh three times, and laugh some more as I watch you and as I adore
The simple purity, the strength and dignity that is you.

What I’m trying to say in this stumbling way, is that
I love you, it’s true,
And I believe you love me too.


All My Days (April 1996, a song)

This song was written when I was in a very good place.  I still remember the peace and comfort of Lady Grace (who was then to me, in my religious “formal” addressing of Her, The Holy Spirit. lol…imagine if someone called you “the” before your name…would be an obstacle to intimacy most likely, eh?), and how She was revealing to me the completeness and all surpassing nature of the work of the Cross…and the last words, spoken in triumph, and not in defeat or despair…It is finished.

So, I found this really flowy melody and the lyrics just jumped from me like birds to the air…I am certain that I was re-reading Song of Songs, as much of this is lifted from those verses…and again, people…read the heart of the scripture here…the Kisses of His mouth, etc, are speaking of spiritual intimacy…look deep:  as if it were a poem!  (you do look deep into poems…don’t you???   🙂  )


All My Days

Jesus, I love You, my Lord and my King.
My heart beats for You, my love, my Everything!
Just a glance from You, a single touch, and I am captured evermore.
Then I hear You call “Rise Up, My Love”, and I come running to the One that I adore!

I will sing unto you, sing a new song to you,
for You are worthy of my praise!
I will give You glory, and I will give You honor,
I will love You all my days.

Here, in this moment, Your presence is so sweet.
You’ve overcome me, my tears of love wash Your feet.
All the deepest longings of my life, my portion and my great delight
are revealed in You, Beloved King, I bow down and worship You with all my might!

Chorus:  (2x on the chorus)

Lord, as You pour out Your Spirit in this place,
Jesus, please remember that we long to see You face to Face.
Every mighty deed that You have done, for us in answer to our cry,
Cannot take Your place, for we want You, and nothing less and no one else can satisfy!

Chorus #2:
Not just the Living Water!  Not just the Oil and Honey!
Lord none of these can satisfy!

Only knowing You, Lord!  Only loving You, Lord!
Only this can satisfy!

Draw us after You Lord!  Let us run with You, Lord!
We want the kisses of Your mouth!

Not just the things You do Lord,  not just the gifts You give, Lord!
We must have You and only You!

(flow ad lib, and fade…segue into spontaneous singing and/or prayer)

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