A bestselling author has penned an open response to a vitriolic letter he received from an anonymous woman that was apparently so jarring he simply had to speak out.
Author Richard Paul Evans (Image via Facebook/Richard Paul Evans)
Richard Paul Evans, author of the Michael Vey series, told TheBlaze Wednesday that a handwritten letter was sent to him a few months ago from a woman who had attended a speech he delivered at a church.
The unnamed woman cited facial tics that Evans, who has Tourette Syndrome, made during his address, charging that these movements were evidence of sins that "manifested across [his] face" and that, as a result, he had no place speaking in a house of God.
These comments obviously stunned Evans, who has struggled with the disorder throughout his life. While he was angry, he told TheBlaze that he initially dismissed her words and threw the letter away.
But he later found himself writing to a different woman about her child's struggles with Tourette Syndrome and, rather than ignore the anonymous woman's vitriol, he decided to speak out via an open letter on his Facebook page.
Evans, who said he's unsure whether the woman knew he had Tourette Syndrome, added that he was most upset over her "presumption that people with disabilities are being punished by God."
So, he began his open letter by telling the woman — whom he hopes will somehow read the response on social media — that he was disheartened by her letter and saddened that she didn't share her name so that he could reach out to her.
"I came to your church to tell you about God’s love for His children. And to talk about the beauty of His forgiveness. I don’t think you heard me. Or, at least, believed me," Evans wrote. "You wrote in your letter that I had no place in a house of God, as I was clearly a sinful man and that my sins were 'manifested across my face,' revealed by my many facial tics."
Evans proceeded to note that he, like everyone else, is a sinner, but that his tics have nothing to do with grievances against God and everything to do with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder he has struggled with since childhood.
"Sadly, as a boy, I would have believed you. My mother got mad at me that day my first tic manifested–a painful, constant shrugging. And, though I was only 8-years-old, I felt guilty for disobeying her when she told me to stop," he continued. "As a 9-year-old I thought that maybe, if I was a good enough boy and I had enough faith, I could be cured of my tics. But they wouldn’t go away, so I thought that my abnormality must be my fault."
Evans recalled being made fun of as a child due to his tics, noting the humiliation he felt as a child and telling the woman that her letter reminded him of those experiences. But he said that he's no longer negatively impacted by people who are "deluded" and simply don't understand the issues some face.
"I have moved on. I have a beautiful life, a beautiful family and home. I have seen the world," he said. "I have danced in the White House and spoken to audiences of thousands. Tens of millions of people have read my books. I have built shelters that have housed thousands of abused children. And I still tic."
The author admitted that he was angry by the woman's words, but not for himself. Instead, he said he's frustrated for the children who have been bullied over their Tourette Syndrome — kids who are very much still figuring out how to navigate the scrutiny that sometimes comes along with their tics.
"I am angry for those children who are still trying to figure out who they are: children who are teased and ridiculed and bullied by cruel, self-righteous people like you," Evans wrote. "I am angered for those sweet, innocent children, who would rather die than show their tics, because you are so eager to let them know how unlovable and imperfect they are. And some of them do take their precious lives."
Read the letter below:
Evans told TheBlaze he'd rather not name the church where this woman attends and that he has not brought the issue back to the leaders there.
"I would rather not single out a particular sect or congregation," he said. "From the many comments I've received I see it's not isolated to any particular faith.
Evans believes the woman who wrote the letter is likely carrying some of her own personal pain, as he's hopeful that her words weren't simply rooted in hate.
If he had the chance to deliver just one line to her, he said he would say: "Be kind and be slow to judge. People carry greater hardships than you imagine."
As far as his rebuttal goes, Evans said it has reached nearly 2 million people and that it's been shared more than 22,000 times, sparking thousands of Facebook comments.
"The comments have been beautiful, poignant and telling," he said. "I am sad to see how many people have had experiences similar to mine."