Friday, October 3, 2008

Some Thoughts on Rejection

Well, the ACFW conference is over for another year.
Many of the attendees will have returned home excited, perhaps even elated, at how their appointments went or with the positive feedback they were given on their work. But others will have left feet dragging and hearts heavy.
I've experienced both. This year I was blessed to be in the first group, but today I'd like to encourage any of you who might place yourself in the second. I would like to share a piece I wrote over the summer that appeared on my agent's site when I was one of her guest bloggers. I got a lot of encouraging comments from it, so I thought it might be worth posting here, incase someone didn't read it when it first came out in August. I hope it will meet your need today. My email is at the side, I'm always around if you need someone to vent with or just need a cyber hug or some extra encouragement!

Grace in Rejection

by Catherine West

Ah, the freedom of summer vacation. No schedule to keep, no early wake-up calls, able to stay up until 1 a.m. watching gymnastics…

I’ve taken this opportunity to clean out my laptop. Going through some old files, I came across some emails written during a very painful time in my life. I’d searched and found my birth mother, and I discovered I had a sister who knew nothing about me. My birth mother refused to tell her. Ever. I was backed into a corner—do I contact my sister against my birth mother’s wishes or do nothing, and live with the pain of never knowing the sister I so desperately wanted?

Tough call. After a few excruciating months on my knees, I knew God wanted me to walk away, to not contact my sister, but let Him deal with it.

I found the email I’d written, letting my prayer partners know of that decision. I told them I felt led to offer my birth mother grace, by this definition:

Mercy; clemency;
A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
An excellence or power granted by God.

I also said I knew it was the right thing to do because it hurt the most. My pastor wrote me that day, saying he had no doubt that God would honor my obedience. Four months later, God blew the doors wide open on that situation, and I now have a very strong and wonderful relationship with the sister I thought I would never know.

That’s great, Cath, but how does this apply to my writing life? I’m so glad you asked. Three points: Rejection. Obedience. Grace.

If you’ve been at this writing thing a while, you’ve probably been hurt a time or two. Let’s face it; rejection is no walk on the beach. You spend hours, days, months, years maybe, working on something you’ve poured your heart and soul into, send it out and wait with bated breath, only to be told it’s just not good enough.

Translation - you’re just not good enough.

We know rejection really isn’t personal. But in those few minutes after the discouraging words sink in, no matter how kindly put, it sure feels personal, doesn’t it? I know. I’ve cried more than a few tears over those rejection letters. But did you ever think that in each rejection you receive, God is offering you grace?

Maybe you need a few more months to work on that manuscript. Perhaps you’ll go back to it and find a whole new angle you hadn’t thought of before that really kicks your story up a notch. Perhaps the publisher who just rejected you is headed for bankruptcy. Could be they just weren’t the company or the person God wants you working with.

Accepting a rejection letter is an act of obedience to God.

It’s easy to wail, tear your hair out and aim darts at pictures of agents and editors (I have never done this), it’s not so easy to accept that the door you wanted to walk through so badly has closed for a reason. But, if you trust God with your life, if you truly believe you are called to write, called to pursue publication, then you have to trust God with your career.

God does have a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan includes the grief rejection brings. But after years in the field, I can tell you there is something to be learned from each no you get.

Don’t give up when that SASE shows up in your mailbox. Just put your hand in His, let Him dry your tears and lead you on down the road a stretch. One day, if you persevere, there will be rich rewards.

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4 NAS

1 comment:

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Beautifully said, Cathy! Our timing is most often not God's timing, and it's best to hold that knowledge close as we struggle to live our dream.

Thanks for sharing, Cathy! You're a gem!