Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thankfulness and the writing life

The writing life can be full of ups and downs. One minute we're high in the sky because someone said something nice about our endeavors, the next we're down in the dumps because a rejection letter came in the mail. I think this is probably the bane of most creative types. We're often emotional people. We have to be. It's what allows us to dig deep into ourselves and pull out characters. We have the ability to literally feel what our characters feel.

This emotional response in writers (and all artists, really) can be a curse if we don't learn to harness it properly. But it can also be a tremendous blessing! We're able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes maybe a little easier than the average Jane/Joe. We can empathize with pain---because we've felt it, either literally or vicariously through our characters.

But here's the thing. Instead of letting ourselves be ruled by our emotions when it comes to rejections and disappointments, let's look at them from a different angle. Every rejection you receive is one step closer to an acceptance. Why look at the glass half empty?

I wanted to share with you a Scripture that's helped me on more than one occasion. It comes from Philippians 4, starting with verse 4. Here goes:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Stop right there for a moment. Rejoice. That's what this Thanksgiving holiday is all about. Rejoicing in what we have, whether it's where we want to be or not. I bet there's something in your life to thank the Lord about. Maybe it's just the good food on your table. Or the blue sky. Or much-needed rain. Or your beloved pet. Or your spouse. It was important enough for Paul to mention twice in this verse.

The Lord is near
. No matter where you are right now as you're reading this. You can know this for certain. God is with you. Right now. Looking over your shoulder. Loving you exactly as you are.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

In this day and age, there's a lot to be anxious about. You know what? That's not God's best for us. But he doesn't just command us not to worry. He shows us what to do instead! And that is: present our request to Him. Ask Him for help. How many times is God the last resort in our lives? Why not make Him the first person we turn to in times of stress?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

After we've given thanks, after we've presented our requests to God, here's His wonderful promise to us: peace will fill our hearts. I love that line "which transcends all understanding", meaning we can't make sense of it! That's because it comes from God. Allow God's peace to fill you today, even amidst all the hustle and bustle. He loves you so much. Hey, He died for you, too. Pretty cool, huh?

One more thought. Writers and readers ... God cares about your writing. He wouldn't have put the desire in your heart to do it if He didn't have some way to fulfill it, if it wasn't in His plan for your life. He's the one who put your dreams inside of you! If you commit your way to Him, and seek His will, it'll all work out perfectly in His time.

Keep trusting. Keep writing. And Happy Thanksgiving!


Sheryl said...

Great post C.J.! We all need to be reminded to keep our eyes open for the blessings in our lives and to be thankful.

We had one of our guest pastors, Joel Sonnenberg, speak on thankfulness this past weekend and challenged us to think of giving thanks in a different way. He has quite a testimony (Zondervan published his book a few years ago), being badly burned when he was only 2 years old.

Joel challenged us not only to be thankful for the things most of us are thankful for (health, food, shelter, etc), but to be thankful for the truths we know of God from His Word. Things like "He will never leave us or forsake us" and "His grace is sufficient for us" and "In our weakness He is strong."

It can seem hard at some stages in our life find things to be thankful for. Maybe our health is bad, or we've lost our job, or our home has been destroyed in a fire. What makes us different as Christians is that we can be thankful for the truth and love of God even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

It was a thought provoking sermon for the holiday :-)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

So glad I found your blog!!! Truly enjoyed this post tremendously. Thanks so much! So true about writers maybe being more emotional types. I write short, little things (devotionals, fillers, short inspirational stories). I'm going bonkers now awaiting verdicts on many submissions and getting new ones out while I wait seems to strangely help. Latest acceptance was in Catholic Digest November 2007 (My T.V. Dinner Thanksgiving With Dad). Waiting to hear from 13 submissions. Blessings to you and your prolific productivity. Wow! 13 years! "Congrats!" Look forward to reading and learning more here.Lisa Dolensky

C.J. Darlington said...

Sheryl & Lisa -- thanks so much for your comments. I appreciate them.

And Lisa, keep submitting! You're on the right track. I hear over and over again that the thing to do when you submit something, rather than tracing a path to your mailbox, is to get working on your next project. Congrats on your acceptances, and here's rooting for you on those days the rejections come. Remember, they're never a rejection of YOU.