Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Walking in Faith Through Rejection

"Had I heard God wrong? I really felt He'd told me I would write books that help women." 

This is a quote from Lysa Terkeurst's What Happens When Women Walk in Faith . I've been doing studies along with Proverbs 31 Ministries for several years but this one hit close to home.

In March, Lysa talks about receiving a rejection letter in this blog post: "Just use this letter as the liner of your cat litter box as I'm sure one day things will work out with you." I suppose the letter was made to be humorous, but you may be able to relate to Lysa who didn't laugh at the time.

I have received two rejections in the last few weeks. I know the number isn't huge, but they did come pretty close together and both were for freelancing jobs I was very interested in doing.

Today, TerKeurst is a nationally known speaker and author who travels with Women of Faith and leads the She Speaks ministry encouraging thousands of other writers and speakers.

Says Lysa:

"Eventually, I got the bright idea to write a book. I typed out my outlines in chapter form, thought of some catchy chapter titles, slapped a cover sheet on the ragtag collection, and called it a book proposal. Another friend of mine, Sharon Jaynes, and I naively headed to the annual Christian Booksellers Association International Convention, fully expecting to find a publisher eager to publish our proposed books. After all, the hardest part of getting a book published was writing it, right? Well, I quickly learned that couldn't be further from the truth. The wave of rejection letters that littered my desk in the months that followed the conference dashed my great hopes and big dreams." (page 32)

Has your writing life failed to meet your expectations? Did you dream about when you would receive that contract and perhaps it didn't materialize.

Here are some things I learned about Lysa's journey to publication. Hope it encourages you!

1) Her ministry started very small, within the walls of her own home.

God desires us to honor him in our relationships. Is there something we need to work on right now? Someone we need to forgive? Is there a strong need in our family during the season we are in? Our ministry in writing will pour out of the way we live our life. I know during this season my daughter's learning challenges have taken some extra time. I might not have the time for this if either of these jobs materialized.

What is God wanting to teach you in your home and family in order to grow you for your writing life?

2) God wants us to be honest and real in all our life, including our writing.

God wants full authenticity in our writing life. Often that means writing stuff that hurts. Our writing ministers to our own hearts before it leaves the email to touch anyone else. Are we willing to write hard things? Whether fiction or nonfiction, we are called to a vulnerable softness. Are you ready to share this with the world. Or are you holding back in your writing? Maybe God is also wanting to build in us a greater humility so we will be ready for publication that isn't the glitz and glamour life. He wants full servanthood throughout the whole process of the writing life.

3) God's dream will come true with his formula.

Lysa decided in order to be published she needed to go where the editors are: the convention. But God had a plan of His own. He brought a publisher to Lysa in due time (though not on her timetable).

It is good to be diligent in pursuing growth in our writing. Publishing may or may not be God's dream for us and the timing may not be now. But he knows the dreams of our hearts. He gave us our love of writing for a reason. Believe that he will use our writing in His wayand timing.

Go to conferences, seek out editors, but keep your eyes open for God's doors and know that he often uses ways that don't seem to make sense to our eyes. My husband's job is a current example. He received this current job from recruiters who found him on LinkedIn without his own actions. God has a plan and timing all his own.

4) God's plans may start out smaller than ours.

In Lysa's case, she began writing a newsletter with another friend. This led to small speaking engagements, then magazine and newspaper articles. Maybe God's plan for you starts out with a blog, a devotional, a poem in a magazine. God waters our dreams and waits, watching while they grow. Are we willing to be patient, water the soil, and walk in faith?

5) Believe God has a plan for your writing.

God gave you a love for the written word for a reason. He loves your creative heart and wants to use it. Lysa put her manuscript in a drawer and thanked God in advance for what he was going to do. Then she decided she would let God show her when the time was right. Three years later, her first book was published.

"God was calling me to lay my desire to write a book on the altar." (page 35)

Is there anything you have to lay on the altar?

Even when Lysa received the first "yes" from a publisher, that "yes" came along with two pages of changes. Two pages of changes that translated to change most of the manuscript. Rejection will follow us all of our writing life even if we were to become the next Stephen King.

I recommend Lysa's book if you are struggling with walking in faith in any aspect of your life.

Dear God, help us to lay aside our writing plans on the altar and embrace your plan for our writing life.

Julia Reffner lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, two elementary aged children and adorable ragdoll cats. She writes for Library Journal and the website Wonderfully Woven.


Glynis said...

Your words really struck a chord. I have not been rejected--yet--because I haven't been willing to get my writing "out there". Fear is such a terrible thing that keeps us from so many blessings--not just for ourselves but for others.

Thank you for this post. Just what I needed to hear!!

kaybee said...

Julia, I have to put my writing on the altar every single day because I have wanted it for so long, and for so long God has said "not yet." It was a major milestone for me when I finally grew to know that I DON'T want it unless it's in his perfect will. I haven't been sending out a lot of stuff lately because there aren't a lot of agents/editors who take unsolicited material, but I did apply for that Love Inspired Blurb-To-Book promotion. I didn't get in, but then I looked at all the stuff I have to deal with right now and realized I couldn't make it work without hurting something--or someone. We have to keep it on the altar, and sometimes it doesn't make sense the way things work out. I've said this before, writing is like any other aspect of the Christian ministry, we may not see the results this side of Glory.
Thanks for a great post.
Kathy Bailey

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Julia, what a powerful post. I didn't know that much about Lysa TerKeurst's journey, so this was great to read.

One of the things you shared is one that God keeps reminding me of: His dreams for me will come true in His way and in His timing. It's so hard to yield to His plans sometimes. The times when I'm struggling with this are the times when it's most important to let go of my plans for my writing and yield to His plans. His are always, ALWAYS better anyway.

Loved this post, and I needed it today. :)

Pepper Basham said...

What a great post, Julia
Wow! It really touched my heart - especially the quote about God's plans sometimes start smaller than ours :-)

Thanks so much for this.

Angela said...

Great post. What a good reminder for us to wait for God's timing and keeping the faith.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I struggle with the fear of getting myself out there, too. May we step out into His will for us and be brave in His timing.


Wow, sounds like this has been a very fruitful journey for you. Very well said. There sure is a lot we don't see, isn't there? May God use our writing to grow us in our faith journeys!


Isn't that so true? "The times when its hardest are the times when its most important." Thankful that he is faithful to help us put things on the altar.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Pepper,

The things God is doing in your writing life are such a great example of this. I've grown in watching your example in surrendering to His plan and its so beautiful the way God is blessing you in it! Cheering you on all the way!

@ Angela,

Keeping the faith can certainly be rough sometimes...Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

So needed this Jules! Thank you!

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Amy,

So glad, Ames! I've been inspired by your perspective on following God in your writing path. Keep the courage, you're going to have a great publication story that glorifies God in the way it happens! Can't wait to watch it unfold!

Cara Putman said...

Great post, Julia. Great advice about the keeping on.