“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6 & 7
When I saw the email in my in-box, a number of thoughts came to mind, mainly of emotional self-preservation.
Read that one first, I told myself. Then when it says what you’re thinking it says, you can read the others to get your mind off the bad news in the first one. Maybe the others are good news, and they’ll cheer you up…
I had met an acquisitions editor from a major Christian publishing company a couple of years earlier, and we had immediately hit it off. Providentially, her next two appointments were no-shows and we were able to keep talking about the topic of my book – the reasons for “unanswered” prayers, about God’s having better ideas, and of our vision for revival in America. She had seemed excited about the book, and I had given her a copy. Later, having found out that I was expected to write a book proposal (Duh.), I had taken a crash course in book proposal writing and spent several weeks on my first one (66 pages’ worth). Then there had been the waiting, the “touching base” every couple of months to make sure her email hadn’t been misdirected to the spam folder, and being reassured that they would get to my proposal soon.
So, now, about six months later, I was staring at the familiar name in my in box. It had been a while since I had received a rejection letter, but I was familiar with the emotional impact – the sick feeling in my stomach, the anger, hurt, and resentment, the feeling of inferiority, of worthlessness, the wondering if God could/would ever use me, the sleepless nights, depression… How much worse would this be, from what had seemed like my most promising prospect ever? I was not looking forward to going through those “growing pains” again, but … Might as well get it over with…
Even as I read the pleasant greeting and the thanks for my patience, out of the corner of my eye I could see the word “unfortunately” and knew my instincts had been correct. And my gut feeling was …
I read through the letter, and it was clear they felt that the focus of my book was too narrow for what they wanted to do in a book on prayer. OK… I braced myself again for the blow; still nothing.
I read other emails, was happy to see that my blog had picked up a couple more followers, prayed over some requests, and got ready for bed. As I went to sleep, I expected a repeat of a familiar scenario – waking up at 3 A.M. with the reality of the rejection finally hitting me like a punch in the gut, and then lying awake fretting and crying off and on for hours or until the sun came up.
It didn’t happen. As I woke up the next morning, refreshed, a thought came to me …
Could I have grown?!
As I walked the dog and gave my heart to the Lord as usual, I repeated the words that always mean so much to me:
Lord, thank You for emotions that confirm the truth, and thank You that Your truth stands on its own and needs no confirmation from me or anyone else. Thank You that when my emotions lie, they don’t get to define me …
I had expected to be hanging onto that last part like a life line – I’m valuable to God! He loves me! I’m still usable! My emotions are lying!
But today they weren’t! I had as much joy that morning as I usually did – more, actually. The thought of being more spiritually mature gave me a thrill. I thought of the Lord’s giving me “hind’s feet” and setting me on the “high places,” where the tyranny of man’s rejection couldn’t reach me the way it used to. Having thought earlier that “peace that passes understanding” might be the best I could hope for that day, I found myself receiving much, much more. Communing with the One who was ultimately in charge of my life, I actually felt joy starting up, filling me, and bubbling over. The sheer surprise made me laugh and increased the joy even more. I walked with a spring in my step. …
The editor had not sent me a generic letter (“Your work does not meet our editorial needs at this time.”) She had described my proposal as “excellent” and my book as “powerful” and “compelling.” Maybe her kind words had something to do with my happiness that day.
I hope not.
Maybe it was that my blog had picked up a couple more followers, or seeing the man at church who had told me earlier that day that things he had learned from my book were still ministering to him after several years.
I hope not.
Maybe it was the fact that having a book published by this major company would have meant traveling and speaking engagements and guest appearances in TV and radio to be interviewed about the book. That thought had made me uneasy (translate: terrified). Maybe cowardice and laziness was the reason I was so OK with the rejection.
I really hope not. Besides, I hadn’t felt relief, I had felt nothing. I can only hope that “nothing” meant that man’s judgment of me has lost its power to influence what I believe and how I trust God.
I really hope so.