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)