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.