Hard to Complain

Most of the reviews for Grumble Hallelujah have been quite good (read them here). I’ve loved the emails and messages readers have sent, and the kind words friends have shared. So nice to know that something I worked so hard on and poured so much heart, mind and soul into is being well-received.

But of course, not every review has been kind. Not every word said about me or my book has been favorable, but that’s okay. As my mom always said, “To each his own.” [Quick note: The saying loses something when I make it gender inclusive. So I didn’t…]

Except that yesterday, I read the second review of my book in which I was accused of being “spoiled” and “whiney.” I believe the woman also called me shallow. Again, to each her own. But what bugs me so much about these words being used against me is that I cop to these very things in the book.

I write about how I feel guilty because the things that made me grumble my hallelujahs are no doubt “first world” problems. I understand that what I lament is no where close to the despair that reaches God’s ears from around this globe.

But I also write how afraid I’ve been to share my struggles because of my fear of being called “whiney” or “spoiled” or “shallow.” And I write specifically how Jesus has used the events that made me grumble to help me become less spoiled, less shallow, and–well–actually more whiney. But still: it seems doubly mean to go ahead and harp on me for being this way, when I’ve confessed. When I’ve written that it scares me that this is how I will still be seen.

But alas. I’m a big girl. And I’m a professional. I know this is part of the writing life. Writers take risks when we share things–risks of being rejected, risks of being called names, risks of being misunderstood. It’s why we get paid the big bucks, people. (If you consider 1/3 the minimum wage to be “big bucks,” that is.)

But if I can offer a word to the wise (another saying I stole from my mom): When someone bares her soul, when someone offers a struggle, do like Jesus and come back with kindness (you don’t have to like the book!). Don’t come back with name-calling, with shaming. Instead, respond with love, with kindness, with gentleness. Let’s not get into the habit of judging one another on the merits of our complaints.

Except for the few chronic complainers and whiners among us (ahem: anyone of my children on any given day), I believe complaining is hard for most of us to do. It’s hard to tell others we hurt, we struggle, we suffer some how for the very reasons I experienced in reading that review.

Christmas gift idea: How about this year we give others the gift of being a listening ear. That we hear each other out, without judgment and with lots of love and mercy.


6 Responses to “Hard to Complain”

  1. December 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Sorry you get this kind of review. I hope you keep remembering how much your transparency and honesty has encouraged others. Truly.

  2. Julie JK
    December 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    It is really unfortunate that people can be so critical of a person who is being real and honest about themselves. I wish more people were open like you because it would help build community by allowing others to feel they are in a safe place and that brothers and sisters are truly bearing burdens with us.

    Thanks for being frank and for blessing my life with your stories. I felt less alone as a mom, wife, and daughter of Christ.

  3. December 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    This gets my back up. I’m sorry.

    Keep doing it. Stay the big girl, be the professional and shut the door on the lies, because that’s what they are.

  4. December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Awww, shucks. Thanks, all. I almost linked to the bloggers’ sites but then realized that would be vengeful. : )

    I really do appreciate people’s honest reviews of what I write–and I’m happy to entertain “push-back.” But some days it just gets to you, right?

  5. June 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Some things seem pretty clear about the high-priority unsolved problem of homework. Plan A — imposing your will — isn’t getting the job done. Plan A doesn’t clarify why the homework demands are so unreasonable for your son, hasn’t solved the problem (the homework still isn’t being completed reliably) and only sets in motion your son’s worst behavior. Plan C — dropping the homework expectation completely so your son can just have fun and play — also wouldn’t clarify what it is about the homework that is so hard for your son and wouldn’t solve the problem, but would reduce the likelihood of your son’s worst behavior. With Plan B, you’re gathering information from your son so as to truly understand what?s making homework completion so difficult for him, making sure your concern is entered into consideration, and coming up with a solution that addresses his concerns and yours (and therefore solving the problem durably). Naturally, I think Plan B is going to be your best long-term strategy, even though it could take a while before you have a viable solution in place. I don’t think Plan B is going to take anywhere near the amount of time Plan A has consumed.


  1. Bitter vs. Honest | Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira - December 7, 2011

    […] Hallelujah and who writes and speaks about the need to grieve disappointments and who has recently expressed hurt at being called spoiled for not having a hard enough life to complain about–taking issue with […]

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