I remember the letter like it was yesterday. In a nutshell, it was another publisher telling me my writing did not meet their needs at that time.
And in his attempt to soften the blow, he’d added a wee bit of humor. “Just use this letter as the liner of your cat litter box as I’m sure one day things will work out for you.”
As if a little humor ever helped someone who has just been knocked into a pit of rejection.
The letter wasn’t even signed.
I was standing at my mailbox at the time because at that point in my life I didn’t think email would ever really take off and I’d requested all communications to be sent to my home address.
And by all future communications of course, I had a book contract in mind.
Not a litter box liner humor rejection letter.
It was clear from this letter that nobody at the publishing house stood up in awe as they read my typed words and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Girl has skills!”
I hung my head, got into my car, and drove to my local bookstore. I saved up all my tears until I was smack dab in the middle of thousands of other books – thousands of other writers who’d received a thumbs up to their dreams – thousands of other people with evidence that their writing mattered – and I sobbed.
The kind of sobbing that should be reserved for a funeral.
But in that moment, the death of my dream that never had enough life to warrant a funeral was a deep, deep grief.
The tears didn’t come from my eyes. They didn’t come from my heart. They came from my soul that was always slightly suspicious that God really didn’t have any sort of spectacular plan when He created me.
After my rather impressive display of emotion in the middle of the bookstore, I drove home and silently declared I’d never set myself up for this kind of rejection again.
I put all my writing attempts in a file drawer. I made tacos for dinner. And I made note of the fact that God did nothing to soften this blow.
There was no verse mysteriously written on a slip of paper that suddenly wafted down from my kitchen ceiling. There was no friend that called and said she felt led by the Holy Spirit to encourage me in my writing. There was no divine directive that gave any sort of inspiration for me to keep going.
There was just this utter realization that I’d now have to tell all those praying for me that this writing a book thing was a no-go. In essence, with no affirmation from a publisher, I felt I had no skills. And I’d obviously heard God wrong.
So, surely I should give up.
Oh how I wish I could go sit with myself on that day from the vantage point of this day.
I would hand myself a tissue and state that this was not at all a rejection from God. It was a timing issue.
Sometimes callings from God unfold in a miraculous instant. But more often callings happen within a million slow moments of revelation and maturation.
I needed to experience God revealing Himself and maturing me so I could properly handle the Truth I would eventually write and speak about. And so that I could develop my communication skills by learning how to string thoughts and words together that connected and could be received by an audience.
We are charged to be prepared in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” I needed the revelation of the Word so I could properly preach the Word. I needed maturity so I could fulfill that last part of the verse “with great patience and careful instruction.”
I am thankful it would be nearly 4 years – approximately 1,400 days – 35,040 hours – over 2.1 million moments before I was ready emotionally, spiritually, and developmentally to properly handle the weight of God’s Word and a book assignment.
Have you ever felt a stirring to write or attempted to write only to have something or someone shut it down?
I understand. That’s why 14 years ago, after I finally had a publisher say yes, I knew I had to help other writers coming behind me. So, I developed a conference called She Speaks to train, equip, connect, and breathe life into other writers’ dreams.
But whether you want to put pen to page and write or fulfill another calling from God, let me assure you slow progress is better than no progress.
The slow unfolding of readiness in us is often misunderstood to be a quick rejection by God. What a tragic mistake this is for many of us who too quickly shut down in our flesh what God is trying to develop in our spirit.
Sweet sister, don’t give up. Stand up! Ask yourself the reflection questions I’ve listed below. Then, walk toward the calling God created you to fulfill.
1) Have I taken this seriously by investing time, effort, and resources in my development?
2) Have I given up too soon?
3) What have I let dissuade me from this that I need to face?
4) Have I mistakingly bought into the lie that all the opportunities for my calling have already been given to other people?
5) What’s one thing I can do today to move my calling forward?