Loving the Life You Have: Managing to Grumble a Hallelujah

I just finished reading a good book. It’s called Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When it Lets You Down by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira. How would I describe it? Witty, insightful, and packed with so much wisdom and insight that she could have probably written several books on each chapter. But Caryn comes off as a trustworthy older sister that you could sit and converse with for hours. In this book, she is transparent, self-deprecating, and convicting all at the same time. I should also mention that she’s laugh out loud hilarious. I found myself having to turn back to different chapters in order to contemplate the truths she communicated so well in popular jargon. I underlined to death. I am still thinking about them.

Caryn talks about everything from letting go of jealousy and comparison, to letting go of our expectations of how God should work and learning to live a satisfied life. In doing these things, we learn to trust God and love the life he has given us. The book is geared toward women, but I think men can learn from it, too. It’s a book that’d be great to use individually, but would go a long way in a group study. In reading and discussing it in a group setting, I think you’d find that you are not all alone, that you too struggle with the things Caryn speaks of and it’d be good to reflect on that in your group. It’s definitely a book I recommend.

I wanted to include a sample of her writing goodness. It was hard to pick which section to highlight, but I thought that the chapter entitled Living Dead: Letting Go of Your Own Life would be a good choice.

“Matthew 10:39 says, ‘If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give your life up for me, you will find it.’ I was clinging while asking God to help me find my life in him. It’s no supposed to work that way….

I’ve come to realize that John 12:25 means that we can’t love our lives in ways that make us grip and cling to the lives we imagined or as our world, our families, or our churches led us to expect them to be. We need to be willing to let go of our own understanding of what’s supposed to be and grab hold of what God has in store. We need to die to this life. We need to live dead. Cheery, huh? But look at how The Message translates John 12:25:

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

This offers us the truth and the blessing and the hope of living dead. Of laying down and burying our expectations, our worldly desires, our lusts and longings, our fears and failures, our triumphs, our successes, our wealth, our dreams, our ideas, our everything. When they die as they are–as we have created them–and we bury them, burn them, and offer them to God, we get to see God doing his thing. We get to see resurrections. We get to see new life–in him. We get to see  God raise up our expectations, our worldly desires, our lusts and longings, our fears and failures, our triumphs, our successes, our wealth, our dreams, our ideas, our everything. We get to see God in all of them. As he defines them. As he would have them.”

~ Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira in Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When it Lets You Down pp. 146, 148-149

* Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

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