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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Monday, January 21, 2008

Digging Out of the Pit of Despair

“No one escapes the pit of despair,’ was the ominous warning in the movie The Princess Bride. Are there ever some days when you feel that you are in a pit? You may be high on the mountaintop for a short while and before you know it you are sinking into the quagmire. You wonder, “How did I get into this state? When did I exchange sparkles for mud?”

I have had my share of ups and downs over the past few weeks. All of my life I have had an interest in writing, but I have always played it pretty safe. I have had a few poems published when I was in high school as well as writing for my high school magazine and newspaper. I even did a little newspaper writing while in college.

My interests in various genres of writing have changed through the years. When I was in my early teens I wrote a mystery novel. I had great plans of it being a series, until I sent it off to a publisher and they were not interested. So I laid it aside and played it safe for a while.

In my early twenties I felt the urge again to do some writing. This time I wrote an inspirational romance novel and was working on the sequel. I got up my nerve and sent it off to a Christian publisher. Again I was faced with rejection, so I halted work on the sequel and put it away. We started having a family shortly after that, so all my time and energies were spent taking care of our boys.

Through the years I still continued to write various things – church, family and home school newsletters. I also enjoy the traditional way of writing - letters and notes of encouragement, but I always have felt that there was more that I am supposed to do when it comes to writing.

Almost two years ago I started writing Bible studies for women. I did not at the time even consider them for publication, but more so as a resource to use for a group I was teaching. I learned so much in the process that I knew that I could not stop with writing just one. The more I dig in God’s word, the more that I find that I want to share with others.

I was asked to teach my first study on Proverbs 31 a second time. I felt the need to expand it this time so I spent a lot more work revising it. This was difficult because at the time I was writing and leading two studies at once. I also was experiencing severe shoulder pain that made it extremely difficult to write. Eventually I ended up having shoulder surgery.

As I was in the midst of my revisions of the Proverbs 31 study my husband urged me to attend She Speaks (Proverbs 31 Ministry conference in North Carolina) and present it to a publisher. I was scared. I am a shy person and this was way out of my comfort zone. But I too felt that this was something that God called me to do, so I went.

I had a wonderful time and God really spoke to me while I was there. I had two editor appointments. The first one went okay, but they were not interested. I figured the second appointment would go pretty much the same. I was surprised when the editor expressed interest in taking it back to the publishing house. It has been six months and I still have not heard anything yet.

This January I made some major decisions when it comes to my writing. I have started reading more books about the craft. I know that it is something that God is calling me to work at doing. I felt He was calling me to branch out this year and work on submitting some articles as well. I contacted several magazines to find out there submission requirements. I set a goal of writing and sending out one article a month.

I was quite surprised when one of those magazine editors contacted me and wanted to know more about me and what my interests were with writing as well as my accomplishments. After correspondence back and forth we have come up with a possible article for me to write. Only one problem – I am panicking and have been thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

In the mean time I have been faced with two instances. My husband works at the local university and we had a dinner to attend a few days ago. I usually do not enjoy these events as much because I always feel inadequate and insecure. I sit at a table with other professional working women who ask, “What do you do?” Well this year I felt that I would have an answer. I was prepared to say, “I home school my two boys and I am a writer.” This was a huge step for me because I never have gotten to that stage where I said I am a writer. Of course, nobody asked what I do, so I did not have the opportunity to say anything. But in my heart I knew that I had achieved something I never had before – admitting that I am a writer.

I was so overjoyed when my favorite magazine was having a contest with the winner being published in a future issue. I was so excited. I had a piece that God had just given to me a couple weeks before that, so I entered. Well I did not win. So I found myself sinking in to that pit of despair. My thoughts went along the lines of, “Yeah, you thought you were a writer, what did you know? You will never get published. Only your friends and family say you are good at writing, but obviously nobody else thinks that way.” I knew that Satan was doing his best to discourage me and pull me down and bury me in the pit of despair.

Well I really do not know if I have what it takes to be a writer. I knew this morning that I had a choice – a choice to praise the Lord or to despair. I was reminded of the words of Isaiah in chapter 61, verse 3, “and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” I choose to have the garment of praise. I know that He has called me to write. I do not know what that will look like, but I know that I can trust Him. I ask for more of God in my life and less of me.


BLMOM said...

Thank you for being real and writing about this today. I felt disappointed this morning as well when my submission was not selected. Honestly, I never thought it would be and was still disappointed. I have never thought of myself as a writer until my friends and family said I was good at it. They are so sweet! I felt so much like you did this morning and really had to just go straight to my knees to not fall into the trap of believing Satan's lies.

On the day I submitted the post for the contest I wrote another post saying that I was being obedient to God and opening myself up for possible rejection. Then, when it happened - I did not trust Him. I had to go to Him and ask forgiveness. I don't know where the blog or the writing will lead but I am sure God has a plan in all of it for me and YOU! By the way, I really enjoyed your story and every time I have bought oranges this month have thought of you. When I taste a yummy one, I wish that I could share it with you. Thanks again for this post today. I needed it and was encouraged by it.

Lelia Chealey said...

You keep at it! I'm proud of you for submitting your article. I did too, and realized I wasn't "magazine ready". Blog ready, yes, but still have so much to learn. You have to read Lisa's post today on her blog...come over to my blog and click on the 1st one under "Blogs that Bless", you'll find it above yours. :) Think it's called Behind the Eyes. Anyway, you HAVE to read today's post!!!
Put your confidence completeley in HIM and none in yourself & let's see Him move!
Love ya!

My2Blessings said...

“Yeah, you thought you were a writer, what did you know? You will never get published. Only your friends and family say you are good at writing, but obviously nobody else thinks that way.” I knew that Satan was doing his best to discourage me and pull me down and bury me in the pit of despair.

Hi! I also want to say THANKS for being REAL with your feelings. I too, was one of those not chosen. Honestly, after reading some of the great stories...yours was one I would have voted for, by the way :), I didn't really expect to win, but I was disappointed that my entry wasn't even read. I don't have a blog and didn't get an email asking for my story.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I LOVED your story and if I had been voting, it would have been chosen! I LOVE stories about how God continues to bless us in seemingly small ways (like the bags of yummy oranges) and so often it's just what we need at the right moment. Isn't God GREAT?!?!?

I have bookmarked your blog now and will visit regularly. THANKS for encourging us to look past the disappointments and focus on what is really important...and to NOT listen to the voice of the evil one when he tries to talk us into believing his lies.

Hang in there, keep up the great writing! I just KNOW we'll see you in print someday. How do I get info on your Bible Studies for women? They sound GREAT and something I might like to try.



Lelia Chealey said...

Hey,me again. I noticed that the post I wanted you to read by Lisa is actually on Monday's called On a Wing and a Prayer.

Goodnight :)

Sisterlisa said...

I want to encourage you so please tkae this with the utmost love and respect:

Keep in mind why you write to begin with. You write for God's glory, not the magazine's glory.

You write to benefit other women, not to impress en editor. When the time is right, God will open the doors. It won't be a situation where you need to push the door open, it will just open.

Then God will bless it and women's lives will be touched. Keep writing, keep saving and keep blogging. Above all, keep praying that God will use you. He'll give you what He wants you to write then He'll send an opportunity to you.

Life isn't a contest, it's a journey to please the Lord. I believe you are pleasing Him. Wait upon the Lord and He shall renew your strength. You shall mount up as wings as eagles. You shall run and not be weary.


Natalie said...

Just found your blog. You are singin my tune sister. However, I did get my book published through a publishing house that I partnered with to get it published. i too have known rejection. My next goal is to get to one of the major publishing houses. You can see my book on my blog. I hope your dream comes true!
ps. I'm a homeschooler too!

Lisa said...

Ok, Digging for Pearls...
I just read your comment on my blog about the book contest. Hmmmm... sounds like someone has already read the book. Or...maybe you have visited the publisher's website. Girl, now you gave it away!

Lisa :)

Lisa said...

Ok, now that I have scolded you, :) (kidding, of course), let me encourage you. I admit that when I first came over to write you a comment, I did not take the time to read your post. (Shame on me!) But when I went back and saw your comment on my Monday's post, I came back to read every word. And I am so glad I did. on with your writing. Yes, you have heard those nagging whispers -- lies -- but your perspective on writing is correct. First, you have made some great progress with an editor from SS wanting to take a look at it (It's a loooong process, so do not get dismayed! Read my post from last week From Lysa Terkeurst's Blog to Mine for more on that...). That's an excellent first step and could be a great sign that you HAVEN'T heard anything yet.

Also, I wanted you to know that I really related to your struggle with "admitting" you were a writer. This is something I went through and even still struggle with at times. When my first article came out in a magazine, I didn't tell anyone outside of my family for the longest time. My husband would get on to me and thought it was a bit silly that I didn't tell people I was a writer. Even after two books under my belt, it still isn't natural for me to say "I'm an author" to anyone who asks. It's silly, I know. But I think for me it is that I feel as though I am bragging or something if I say it. So crazy. I have to make myself put myself out there. It's not natural for me.

Anyway...I loved your honest post. I am so thankful that Monday's post resonated with you. Who knows? Maybe you were the one I wrote it for.

Write on, sister!
Lisa :)

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing your innermost struggles with this very real issue! I think you put word to the thoughts that all of us who dream of writing have had at one time or another. I agree with the other ladies, though...these are all lies. I have to tell you, lady, you are a writer! I read your blog and am touched every time by your sweet stories of family and faith. Have you ever read Bird by Bird, by Ann Lamott? This was one of the first books on writing that I ever read and it helped me put everything in perspective. She really encouraged me to write for the love of it, not to get published. As I struggle with these, my own words of advice, it feels so precious to have a sister to walk along side with in this journey! Bless you, Dearest! And keep writing!
p.s. let me know when your magazine article comes out so i can read it!