Can we talk about rejection for a minute? I mean, really talk about it?
As writers we often refer to rejection as a badge of honor. That first rejection letter should be a source of pride, we tell each other. It’s a symbol that you’ve become a real writer–one brave enough to send your baby into the great big world. You’re brave enough to let someone tell you they love it. Or worse, hate it. The rejection letter toughens your skin and helps you grow, every pass moving you toward the writer you want so desperately to become.
We all know the stories. How Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was rejected 60 times before it became a national phenomenon. How Max Lucado received no less than 17 rejections before a publisher took a chance, and now he’s sold more than 90 million copies of his books. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book received 12 such letters. Louis L’Amour received 200.
I’d like to say that this is a post about persistence and working toward your calling. And honestly, I believe those to be good things. I’ve seen them in my own life, my own writing.
But today I want to say with complete candor, rejection stings. It hurts. It gnaws at your insides, and just when you think you’ve dealt with it, it comes back to take another bite. It tears you down, and just when you think you’ve made it one ladder wrung closer to the top, it grabs your ankle and gives you another solid tug.
I’m not sure what to call the pit it pulls you back into. At best, I can describe it in my own life as sorrow. It’s so much deeper than sadness. It’s not merely being upset at the situation or feeling inferior. It’s a true and honest heartache.
We all face this. No matter where we’re at on our writing journey (starting our first book, finishing our last, or never planning to write a single one), we all feel this pain. Whether it’s from a publishing house or a friend turning her back or a lost loved one.
I’ve been thinking about rejection lately. About a friend whose husband walked out on her after six years of marriage. About a friend I’ve lost touch with because neither of us tried hard enough to reach out. About a young man who was thrown in a pit and sold into slavery by his own brothers.
I know some would say that rejection can be dealt with by simply thinking positive thoughts or working harder or focusing on stories of ones who survived similar experiences. And while it’s good to keep working and to think positively and to let others’ stories encourage us, this week on the radio, I heard the words I most needed to hear.
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.
It’s from a song by David Crowder called “Come As You Are.” And it’s so honest. So true for the hurting and the rejected.
Here’s the first verse and chorus:
Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal
So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You’re not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
If you’re feeling the sting of rejection rather acutely right now, could I encourage you to come as you are to the feet of Jesus? There is no sorrow that His love can’t heal. If you’re feeling broken, lay down your hurt and lift up your face. Jesus doesn’t promise an instant fix, but rather that He’ll never reject us.
Do you have a song that reminds you of God’s presence in your life?