When it hurts
I have never been put down by anyone because I'm a Christian. I guess it goes to show you that I surround myself with really amazing people, who accept me for who I am. Well, let me tell you, now I have! And let me tell you, it's not a good feeling. I was looking through Amazon and checking up on my books when I noticed a new review. As soon as I saw it, it was as if someone had taken a really thin stiletto-type knife and shoved it into my gut. The wound scabbed over really quickly on the outside. But on the inside... the internal bleeding festered.
Once I got over the shock of reading the scathing report on my first book, I was seething! How dare that person! Who did they think they were?! Hurt, anger, and most of all fear, all spread in that oozing mess inside me. The fear matured into self-doubt (please feel free at this point to say, No way. Not you, Anne. Thank you!), and self-preservation. You see, when I write, I pour part of myself into each story. The characters become part of my family, they live in my head until the story is done and I have a 'relationship' of sorts with them. I am extremely vulnerable when I put it out there for people to read, because I share a large part of my life with the reader.
I felt entitled to my anger. I – after all – am a published author (tipping my nose up as I write this, you understand). Who is this person that dares to critique my book and slam it for being too Christian, not good enough?
After day one, these were my thoughts:
I don't think I can write anymore! It's too painful.
I'm sure there are others out there that feel the same way!
See, I knew I wasn't good enough!
Once those thoughts were processed, I realized that I had an opportunity. I could pray for this person. Oh, yes. My goodness, self-righteousness came out. I would magnanimously pray. I did so, several times... but with a very grudging heart. As time went on, that leaky wound in my gut started to heal just a bit and scab over. I was sitting at home when I realized that the initial shock of the whole thing had put me right back to my second year at Dubai College, Form IIA, an equivalent to 9th grade (I think, the British are slightly complicated). I was sitting at my desk in English class, waiting for our assignments to be handed back. I had written something I was so proud of! I knew it was going to blow my teacher's socks off – for a change! As the paper slipped onto the desk in front of me, I could only stare at it and gasp silently, trying not to succumb to the tears. It was covered – as usual – in red ink! The grade was not as I expected. I remember feeling as if something had been ripped away from me. My ability to put my thoughts into written words.
It left me crushed and thinking of how much of a failure I was.
You see, I'm a closet perfectionist! I know I can't do things perfectly but I soooooo want to! As an instructor I would be moping when my lesson didn't go as planned, when my students didn't grasp the concept I wanted them to, or when the horses were just being horses. There was a time, when I was at a dressage show with Thunder, my Paint/Appaloosa/Spotsforbrain. He wasn't having it! He was letting his Appie side come out. As a competitor, when you enter the ring, everything has to be effortless – or at least give the appearance of it. Well, we entered the ring fighting! He wanted to be with his friend, and was protesting violently and loudly. His head was high in the air, neighing, and he wasn't listening to me. I think he even gave a little buck! As I fought with him up to X, hoping to make him pay attention, he was having none of it. I resigned as I bowed my head to the judge, knowing that I had lost and that I just wasn't going to be perfect out there. Wrong resignation (by the way).
I'm a very emotional person. I just can't help it. If something goes wrong, you can be sure I'll feel it greatly. And my family will know that I'm feeling it greatly (sorry guys)! As things started to heal inside, and I think it's going to take some time to heal up completely, I began my wallowing at home. I needed people to tell me that I'm good enough. I was hoping for my husband to tell me what a brilliant person I am – which he did, by the way, in a most beautiful and eloquent way – and how much he loved and needed me.
But it still wasn't enough!
As things settle down back to normal, I can process this more clearly. This wasn't an attack on me, but on Christ!
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
I really don't feel blessed!
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in
heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before
you.(Mt 5:10-12 KJV)
Paul, Silas and Peter were all examples of rejoicing when the chips are down! And yes, I guess there is a lot to this not letting the emotions rule me. I'm constantly reminded of that. So, what does one do when the Spirit gives one a nudge? and then ones husband comes to one with the same nudge? There's only one thing to do. One does it. Do I feel blessed after commenting on the critique and thanking the person for it? Mmm. I certainly feel a lot more at peace than I did before. There's no singing going on yet, just praising and thankfulness! No fear. No anger. Just... peace.
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand,
saying unto thee,
Fear not; I will help thee.
(Isa 41:13 KJV)
My son reminded me of that this morning. After all, Goliath and David fought and guess who won? But he won because he relied on the LORD! My response to the negative comment was to fight back and, even though I prayed, to justify myself to this unknown person. My husband's reply was to fix it. He's so funny that way! I don't need anyone to fix it. I need to go to God with this and come humbly before Him.
God has given me a direct command. That is to write. There is also the command to love those who hate me, and to heap coals on my enemies. Oh boy, that one is kind of not so much fun. I'm supposed to show kindness when someone shreds me?
YES!!!! (Thanks a lot!)
The clincher is that I am to run a good race! I'm also supposed to forgive, to love. And then I need to remember (once again!!!!) that the stories are never mine. I feel grieved for my Lord, right now. Because I do the same thing as the person who wrote the critique. I don't have enough belief to know that every promise Christ has made will come true! Do I trust Him enough to know that God will bring about good in my own life not because of what I do, but because of who He is?
If I fail, it is still to His glory.
Paul wrote that in everything, to God be the glory. I'm to run that race, finish strong! Do I have the courage to do what God has called me to do, to be made nothing so that He is everything? I pray so with a rejoicing and thankful heart at peace!
For I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;
yet not I, but Christ livith in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 KJV)
I write this not because I want you to write me back and tell me what a brilliant person I am (because we all know I am, lol). I'm not looking for support (although it is always appreciated and welcomed). You see, I'm processing. I'm never one for journaling daily. But I guess, I'm writing things down as I go through because they are in my head and they will stay there until I've written them out. Because that's what God wants from me! Everything that's in my head has to come out and I have to share it.
As Logan and I prayed this morning, the words just came out of my heart, pouring out as I said them. I no longer pray with self-righteous indignation. I have given my life over to the Lord a long time ago, and I have to remember that He, who started a good work in me, will finish it!
If you came up to me and asked what I do, I'd have to tell you that I'm a wife, mother and teacher. A writer? you ask. Wow. Now that is something I never thought I'd be. But through God, all things are possible.