Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The doors are closing -- Part 2

When I was finally able to say that it truly didn’t matter if I was never published or successful was when I began to live in a consistent state of peace. Yes, I knew I would be disappointed if rejection came alone or my book sales were less than robust, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Because ultimately I knew -- and still do -- that God’s plan is perfect, and He’s far more concerned with my happiness and well-being than I am.

This was not an easy place to get to. It's not a matter of just deciding not to care any more. In fact, I believe that is impossible to make oneself truly not care. It takes time. It takes the consistent learning and metabolizing and applying of the principles of God's word under the filling of the Holy Spirit. The rewards of coming to know God as He has revealed Himself through His word are vast, and the concepts He puts forth can solve every problem we'll ever face.

So today I thought I'd share some of the principles that have a made a big difference in my own thinking, particularly with regard to living with the waiting and uncertainty that are so typical of the lives of most writers, published and unpublished. (And maybe, when it gets down to it, typical of all of us).

The first is the importance of appying the command to destroy speculations and every lofty thing that raises itself against the thoughts of God. We're to capture every thought to the obedience of Christ, 2 Co 10:5 tells us, a principle I'd known for some time before I ever began to actively apply it. I think at first I didn't realize just how important it was. And then I was flummoxed when applying didn't go very well. Realizing that captives don't like to stay captive, and will constantly try to escape did a lot for my resolve and perseverence. I have to keep doing this constantly, often with the same sorts of thoughts, but I've learned that's the way it's going to be. Especially at first.

One of the most important thoughts to capture is one I learned courtesy of Elisabeth Elliot: Stay out of the Future! What's going to happen tomorrow -- or next year -- is information you will NEVER have and seeking after it is a futile endeavor that saps the strength and and uses up time given to us today. Stay out of it. Don't speculate, don't daydream, don't extrapolate -- good or bad. "Our lives are His' our times are in His hands. He is lord over what WILL happen, never mind what may happen."

Similar to that is to stay out of places where you are not. Like the editor's office (Is he reading my manuscript now? Is he liking it? Is he hating it?) or readers' heads, or bookstores, or booksellers' heads. These are all places you cannot go, and any scenarios your imagination comes up with will probably be wrong. It's a huge waste of time that, again, saps your energy and drains your enthusiasm. Don't go there.

If you know you have a gift for writing, or even if you think you do, and if you have the desire and time to use it, do so. If you want to be published, do whatever things you can that will lead toward that goal. But leave the results to Him. If you get rejections, oh well. All you know from a rejection is that your book is not going to be published by that house and that editor at that time. That's all. If you get ten rejections, you still only know that those editors/houses at those times are not in God's plan. You don't know what the future holds, so don't try to extrapolate. Don't fight with your negative thoughts and try to argue or excuse them away. Just refuse to think them and concentrate on truth. If worse comes to worst, distract yourself by doing something else.

If it seems like the battle is primarily in your thoughts, that's because it is. Some thoughts -- like fear and worry and doubt -- are sins and need to be confessed. But I found that just being able to recognize and cut off my little thought trips to the future and other folks' heads, and thus keep my eyes on God and His plan for the moment, was tremendously helpful in holding on to His peace while waiting. Maybe it will help someone else as well.

Grace and peace!