Another rejection. My agent gently relayed that though my dream publisher had said “yes” to a proposal all the way up the chain of command to the last committee, they finally decided to nix it.
As I hung up the phone, tears spilled down my cheeks. Two years of canceled book contracts, low sales figures, and repeated “thanks but no thanks” emails had left me discouraged, frustrated, and confused. Writing—and the marketing tasks necessary to be a professional writer—now seemed like drudgery, not play. No matter how many marketing rules I tried to follow, my efforts failed.
I felt like a failure, too.
I still believed God wasn’t through using me. But I couldn’t help but wonder, Will I ever get another book contract? And what happens if I don’t? Is God trying to tell me something?
Later that day, I sat at my desk, playing a computer game with my three year-old son. As Jackson sat in my lap, I kissed his ear and inhaled his little-boy scent; a combination of milk, grime, and chocolate. Nearby sat a copy of my first book, which I had referred to earlier in the day for a radio interview. Jackson looked at the illustration of a frazzled mom on the cover and asked, “Is that you?”
“No, sweetie,” I said, “but I wrote that book. See, mommy’s name is on the cover. It says, ‘by Dena Dyer.’ “
“Oh!” Jackson said, grinning up at me. “I love Dena Dyer!”
Stunned, I blinked back tears. “I love you, too,” I murmured.
After a few minutes more at the computer, I found a quiet corner and prayerfully pondered Jackson’s simple expression of love. He didn’t care if I published books or not. He simply loved me for me. He loved me the way God does.
In all my disappointments, I had thought more about selling books than surrendering my heart. It was painful to admit that somewhere in the midst of trying to serve Jesus, I’d become goal-driven instead of God-driven. I seemed to care more about what the publishing powers-that-be thought than what my Heavenly Father thought.
Satan is crafty. He takes our God-given talents and twists them into temptations. Gradually, my calling had become an idol. Who I was became less important than what I did.
“Lord, I’m sorry,” I prayed, crying for the third time that day. “My heart is so full of sin. I know you couldn’t care less how many books I sell. You just want ME.”
In the weeks and months to come, as I asked God to help me believe the truth of His unconditional acceptance, I began working freely and joyfully again instead of writing just to be published. God continued to close some doors, and another book proposal was rejected, but He gave me other opportunities–ones I hadn’t even known to pursue.
The truth is, though, I will probably always have a tendency to think I must perform to be loved. So I’ve ask God to whack me upside the head (as we say here in Texas) before I get too far off track.
If experience is any teacher, He’ll be faithful to do just that.
(This article first appeared at The High Calling. Used by permission)
21 Replies to “Already Loved: Encouragement for This Writing Life”
Love this Dena – the second time around. :>)
Thanks, friend! 🙂
This is more touching and encouraging than you know. Thanks for sharing.
Debbie, I am so grateful for that. I appreciate you letting me know.
Blessings to you today!
I must admit, this is a constant battle for me. I often write about God needing to break me daily so I don’t continue in the wrong direction. It’s so important to make Him the first part of everything … and yet sometimes we forget. Thanks for the reminder!!!
Amen, Connie. The first part of everything. And praying for Him to break us? That’s so hard, but so important, too. He’s so faithful to break us where we need to be broken and bind us up where we need healing. Thanks for reading, and for commenting.
These are wise words, Dena. I often have to remind myself that God loves me for being me, not for what I do. The pressure to perform is a double-edged sword, I think – it’s both motivating and condemning – and such a fixture in American culture! Christianity is still as countercultural today as it was in early Rome – the lions are just more subtle!
Jan, you’re right. The lions are subtle, but still deadly. God bless you as you navigate this writing life, with Him. 🙂
I think most of us struggle with what you described so eloquently. Thank you for your beautiful transparency.
Anita, you are welcome. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words.
Dena—-brave woman!! To admit and confess to what I think all of us experience! I am so touched as well by your son’s “I LOVE Dena Dyer!” Yes—-who we are in Christ, even who we are in our family—not what we do.. And giving God all of us. Thank you for lifting us all up, Dena, to the truth of our identity!
Thanks, Leslie. 🙂 My sons have often been my teachers. And I admire you so much, so I appreciate your kudos here.
What a beautiful, honest post. I love the way God brings things into proper perspective when we start doubting ourselves. Thanks for being willing to share from the heart.
You are welcome. I appreciate your kindness. And yes, He has a way of giving us perspective–often from the most unusual sources! 🙂
Very encouraging to see that we are only the pen and God is the writer. He wants to write in our hearts that we might be an expression of His love. I sometimes get this backwards and when I am frustrated that I am not where I would like to be in my writing, I need to repent and focus on Him not my needs. Thank you for giving me hope and a proper perspective in my writing life.
You are so welcome. Thanks for stopping by and providing encouragement to me. 🙂
Thank you, Dena. I’m also guilty of letting rejections get me down. A friend told me that the rejections that I experience are just a piece of who I am. She said, “Look around you and see all of the bright spots in your life.” That’s true for most of us. 🙂
I appreciate your humble spirit and how you crave God’s unconditional love.
I can’t wait to read your upcoming book about wounded women.
Blessings to you,
Dena, I read this earlier this morning while on a break at work. I found it so touching and motivational that it has carried me through my day. Thanks for this helpful perspective.
I have already been worried about my writing going from my calling to an idol. You put it so well. I am unpublished, but I do have a literary agent interested right now.
We just have to continually be prayed up and humble before God, because this gift He has given us is a calling yet it should also be an offering given with no strings attached (or pleas for success).
It’s hard to be humble, isn’t it? I’m not even published and I’m struggling with what you described. I need to keep prayed up. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your heart!
God Bless you,
Dena, thank you so much for sharing this with us. It really spoke to my heart. I keep telling myself that if God has really called me to be a writer, then why can’t I get published? I need to focus on Him, write, pray, and wait. God bless you for opening your heart. I needed to hear what you had to say.
Dena – I needed to hear that! Thanks . . .
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