We’ve all been there. At the quitting point. When we decide that our work doesn’t matter. Or our voice isn’t needed. Or we just don’t have what it takes to get published. Author Gina Detwiler (co-author of Priscilla Shirer’s highly-acclaimed Prince Warrior series), can relate. Be encouraged by these tips straight from God’s Word:
If I had to pick the hardest thing to deal with as a writer, it’s rejection.
To any young person who asks me for advice in pursuing a writing career, I tell them: get used to rejection. The most famous authors in the world faced rejection, sometimes for long periods. We have a writer saying: “R.I.P.” Rejection Isn’t Personal. But it sure feels like it is! We writers tend to be sensitive, insecure people whose work becomes our identity. If a publisher or editor or agent rejects our story, it’s like they are rejecting us, even though the two are not the same.
I’ll be honest, here: I have quit writing many times. I’ve thought I should get a “real job,” like a plumber. Plumbers bring true joy to people. Nothing like an unclogged septic tank to make you break into a happy dance.
My resolve has never lasted long. But here’s the question: how do you know, when you are doing a thing, that God wants you to keep doing that thing?
One thing I do know, rejection and discouragement don’t qualify as reasons to quit. Remember Elijah? The Prophet of God who, after the greatest success of his career on Mount Carmel, sank into such a deep depression that he wished he’d never been born? (This is in 1 Kings 18-19, if you are following along in your Bibles.) Why? Because his super-duper miracle hadn’t changed a single heart (though it did stop a few). It only made his enemies madder. So, he thought, what’s the point? Why do I even bother?
I love that God answers his weeping and wailing with: lunch.
So, step # 1 When you want to quit: Have lunch. Then take a nap.
God makes Elijah some food and then tells him to take a nap. Can you relate?
Once Elijah is feeling stronger physically, God’s next direction is to take a walk. To the top of a mountain. I’ve found that “walking it out” is a great way to sort through the stuff of life. (Not running, mind you. Nothing good comes of running, LOL.) It’s also a great way to burn off those lunch calories.
Once he’s had a good nap and a nice walk, God addresses Elijah’s spiritual malaise. He asks, point blank: “Elijah, what are you doing here?” God’s not interested in his physical location, but his spiritual one. Elijah starts right in with more complaining: “I’m doing all this amazing stuff for You, but it was a total failure and I’m all alone, so please kill me now” (Paraphrasing here!)
No matter how sure we are of God’s role for us, there are times when we all think: “All I’ve done has gotten me exactly nowhere, so I must be a failure.”
Step # 2: Vent. This is healthy, for a time.
God’s not a fan of us grumbling and complaining to each other, but He’s okay with taking our laments directly to him. After all, there’s a whole book in the Bible called “Lamentations.” God lets Elijah repeat his complaints two times. But He doesn’t say, “There, there Elijah, I know how you feel. I’ve been there.”
When Elijah is done venting, God gives him a to-do list. It’s like God is saying, “Okay, feel better now? Great. Here’s what you’re going to do.”
Step # 3: Get back to work. Possibly in a new direction.
Keep in mind: God might tell you to do something you never thought you’d be doing. Elijah wasn’t going to be preaching or performing great public miracles for awhile. He wasn’t going to take down the evil King Ahab all by himself. God has something completely different in mind.
The first thing God tells Elijah to do is to anoint a Gentile king (and not a particularly good one) who would eventually attack Israel and Judah and wipe out all those who failed to heed his warnings on Mount Carmel. Then Elijah was to anoint Jehu as king over Israel, who would take care of all those that the other guy missed, including Elijah’s arch-nemesis, the wicked queen Jezebel.
Long story short: “You do your job, Elijah, and I’ll do mine.”
This didn’t happen overnight. In fact, Elijah wasn’t even there to see it happen, but from that moment on, he never doubted God’s word.
The last thing God gave Elijah: a friend. He led him to seek out Elisha who, the Bible says, followed him and “ministered to him.” Now he was not alone anymore. Their friendship is one of the sweetest and most fruitful in the whole Bible.
Step # 4: Find a friend.
When I was at the point of giving up, God gave me a friend. I found her via the internet, when I went looking for an editor who could help me fix up a novel I had decided to self-publish after trying for months to get a traditional publisher. She turned out to be not only a wonderful writer and editor but a great encourager. We eventually formed a writer’s group. We meet once a month to vent, critique each other’s work, and encourage each other. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made. Having a friend who is walking the same journey as you, who can offer encouragement and correction in equal measure, is vital.
So here’s the bottom line: if one of the greatest of God’s prophets can have a major identity crisis, then without a doubt so will we. Yet perhaps this is exactly the sort of thing we need to move us in the direction God wants us to go.
So until I start getting brochures for plumbing schools in the mail, I’m going to keep doing this thing and trust God with all the rest of it. I hope you will too.
If you feel like quitting, we hope that you’ll reach out to us. At Certa Publishing, we are full of resources, strategies and encouragement to keep writers on the path to publishing and beyond! Contact us today.