A little background before I tell you a funny story:
Several months before I released Every Bush Is Burning, my writer-friend Courtney Gibson asked me, “Are you afraid to release something so dear to you, knowing that it will be out there for all the world to critique and criticize?”
I shrugged and said, “Nah, not really.” And honestly, I didn’t think much of it at that time.
Then a few months passed. Release day got closer. And one day it hit me out of nowhere:
I wasn’t just afraid. Part of me was terrified. I suddenly wanted to crawl up into the fetal position.
Really what did it was the realization that no matter what I did, some people were going to hate it. No matter my intentions, my reasons for doing certain things, or anything else. Some people would refuse to give it a chance, or even if they did, they still might absolutely despise it for a number of reasons.
And, well, confession: I struggle with approval idolatry. I want people to like me. No, not people–I want everyone to like me (which is a bit like chasing the wind). So what does it mean about me if some people disdain something that so much of me is in? If they think something I poured years of my life into is inconsequential, useless, nothing?
I’ve heard other writers say that no matter how many good things people might say about a book they wrote, their eyes were always drawn to the worst reviews, to the 1 stars. That for some reason they seemed to hold more weight than all the others.
So the other day when I checked my Amazon page, my eye indeed was drawn to one of the new reviews that had a glaring 1 star. I held my breath.
Even worse, I saw that the title of the review was, none other than: “Unbiblical”.
Gasp! As a pastor who cares deeply about the gospel and Scripture, that’s not a title I love to be associated with my name.
But then I read the review, which said:
I read more than half of this book on my Kindle and then deleted it. The Jesus of this book is anything but Biblical. I should have deleted it when so called Jesus gave someone the finger. But I kept reading. The last straw was when the main character confronts Jesus about where he was during all the tragic times in his life. Jesus responds that he wasn’t there and apologizes for it. Non-christians and Christians who are weak in their Biblical knowledge are in the most danger by reading this book. While this book isn’t as dangerous a book as some others, such as “The Shack,” it should be avoided. If anyone is interested in reading similar themed books, but which are far more Biblical, I suggest reading “The Perfect Stranger” books and/or watch the movies and TV episodes.
For a number of reasons. (And if you’ve read the book, you know why it’s funny.)
And honestly, I was really thankful. God gave me a really easy first 1 star review and I’m grateful for the easy breaking in for others that may not be as funny. I smiled and said to myself, “Well, there’s no way around that one. Wish he would have read the rest of the book.”
Then I showed it to Kristi and it was SO FUNNY. She goes into defensive wife mode anytime someone criticizes me and it’s just hilarious. Nice-and-sweet Kristi turns into a different person. But then I told her to relax, that sometimes controversy about stuff like that is the best thing that can happen to a book.
But above all, I’m reminded of how good it is that all of my worth and approval is found in Jesus and not in good (or bad) reviews. If I forget that, the only two options are pride and despair. And both of those suck.