It was one of those weeks. If life would have handed me a do-over I would have signed my name on the dotted line. Yet again, I found myself in a place of disappointment, questioning my writing pursuit and faced with the decision to quit or continue.
People say bad news travels in three’s and I must agree. Within a 72 hour period, I received three rejection letters from various publishers. At one point, I powered down my phone in fear another email alert would sound, bringing with it one more rejection.
I thought seriously of smashing my computer into tiny shards of plastic, burning my journals and banning all writing utensils from the home…..okay, maybe a little dramatic but I am making a point.
I had all the failure I could withstand for one day.
I started asking myself what was the point in pursuing a writing career? I receive more rejection letters than I do acceptances– a generic response that thanks me for my submission yet always ends with the statement “but at this time, we cannot use your article.”
Rejection is hard but I hope to shed light on the importance of following your passion regardless of how difficult it might be. No matter how many times you have fallen flat on your face, there is a silver lining to failure and we need to remember it:
Failure is necessary.
Failure reminds. Failure humbles. Failure refocuses.
Failure makes you remember what you are passionate about. Even though I want to quit fairly often, I don’t because I love it. I love sharing my thoughts and knowing that maybe one person might be inspired, encouraged and equipped to make that marriage better, reconnect with their families, or renew their relationship with God. Failure reminds me I am not doing this just for me, but something much greater than me.
Success is a great feeling but it is fleeting. One day you are on top of the mountain and the next day, you are in the valley. Writing has been a roller coaster ride for me. There was a time when I first started freelancing that I thought I had it all together. Magazines were seeking me out and I was up for a staff writer position. If I am honest, I thought I had it in the bag. I was young and had fresh ideas. I was bringing in new readers. My editor thought I would be a great fit. Yet, somehow, the magazine did not hire me. It was a blow to my ego. I was devastated and humbled. If the only thing any of us ever experienced was success, we would become complacent, entitled and woefully self-confident. Failure puts you in your place and reminds you that you are not in control. God’s plan is ultimate and it does not always work out the way we have planned. Failure reminded me to keep my eyes trained on the One that held my future.
Failure, if allowed, will help you refocus on the calling placed in your life. I worked with youth and college for years. When I started blogging and freelancing, I focused only on young adults. I thought that my own personal mishaps in my teen years would help other teens overcome their personal struggles. I tried for years to write toward that audience with very little success. After much prayer and lots of failed attempts, I wrote an article for parents. The response was unbelievable. I learned through a lot of trial and error who my target audience was and it was not who I originally thought. I had a call to help parents reconnect with their teens. Sometimes, we get so caught up in what we think we are to do that we forget to ask God what He wants for us. My failures, both personally and professionally, have reshaped how I approach ideas. My focus is on how God can use me, not how I think I can be used.
Failure is not a bad thing. We all need to be reminded that our purpose is not for our gain but His. We all need to be humbled to the life He has called us to and sometimes you have to fall before you can climb. And it is when we are focused on our true calling that we will see God’s hand at work. Three years ago, I submitted a manuscript written for teens on sexual purity. It was rejected needless to say. This year, I took that idea and recrafted the content, focusing on parents and their role in the message of purity. I then resubmitted my manuscript to a new publisher and I am now navigating my first book deal through Vox Dei.
Failure pushes you. It keeps you hungry. You cannot fully appreciate your successes until you have fully experienced your letdowns.
Next time, when you fall short of your desired goal, do not allow yourself to succumb to doubt and fear. Instead, look at the set back as a set up for something much greater than you could have ever originally thought.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”