Father’s Day can be a reminder that we’re all just a bunch of wounded little kids, can’t it?
One of the pitfalls of being a published writer is exposing your work—and yourself—to criticism and rejection. I know authors who don’t read reviews of their books because it can be too painful, especially when a negative one comes on an already difficult day.
This happened to me recently. I’ve always read all my online reviews. Though most are positive, some real stinkers show up as well. It proves you can’t please everyone, that readers’ tastes vary. The positive reviews keep you writing, the negative reviews keep you humble—at least in theory. I have even taught other artists tricks for handling both praise and rejection.
But for good reason, this review felt like a personal attack. And when the words come from an anonymous stranger, there’s little you can do. You can cry. I did not, although that’s often my go-to reaction. You can hit something. I didn’t do that, either. You can toss back a handful of chocolate chips. I resisted, this time. You can brush it off and tell yourself it doesn’t sting. I knew full well it did. You can go on social media, rant about how stupid the reader must be to not “get” what you were trying to say. I’ve seen authors do this. They are looking for someone to defend them, and it works. Until it doesn’t. Either way, it appears unprofessional, immature, and frankly, kind of pathetic.
I distracted myself for an hour with a TV show, and when the show ended, the hurtful words surfaced again. Thankfully, it was bedtime. And thankfully, I have this little routine when I crawl into bed. I recap the events that seem significant from my day—good, bad, or ugly—whatever comes to mind. I thank God for each one, then lay it at his feet. He alone deserves the praise for the good stuff, and He alone can handle the difficult stuff. This is also a good time to confess the wrongs I’m guilty of from that day, as they come to mind, and ask His forgiveness.
Then, as I snuggle down into the sheets, I let my bed and blankets represent God’s warm loving arms around me. I become an infant, cradled in the embrace of a devoted parent—safe, secure, precious. Loved beyond measure by the one who made me. It’s a wonderful way to fall asleep. And it came in handy that night.
The next morning, I looked at the painful book review with fresh eyes. This time, I saw the words of a hurting person wounded by religion. Someone who doesn’t know she can go straight to her Creator who loves her like his little child. This time, I was able to pray for her. And yes, even to shed some tears. For her.
None of this would happen on my own. It does not come from years of church attendance or self-discipline or religious rule-following. It’s a direct result of embracing the truth of God’s commitment to his children. And it’s yours for the asking. You have a good, good Father. It’s who he is. And you are loved by him. In fact, it’s who you are. Loved. By. Him.***
“I’ve been carrying you from the day you were born, And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.” (from Isaiah 46)
Happy Father’s Day!
***Lyrics from Good Good Father, Chris Tomlin, 2016