The Writer’s Gift of Rejection

The Writer’s Gift of Rejection

School is the perfect breeding ground for disappointment. Especially when it’s time for P.E. and the dreaded picking of teams. (Youth Groups are great for this too.) If you’ve never had the experience of being picked last—you are missing out. Rejection is a sweet gift. Everyone should go through this once in their life—and in reality, everyone does.

Rejection is common to us all. Every person on this planet will go through some level of rejection. Cars won’t let you change lanes, you won’t be invited to that “thing” with “those” people, that girl won’t go to the dance with you, your favorite college won’t let you in their classrooms, some friends will fade to the background of your life, and you’ll get so close to that job you’ve been dreaming of and then— poof !—it’s gone. “You don’t have enough experience.”

We cannot escape rejection. Nor should we. When it comes to rejection, we should come to love it, not hide from it. We should be thankful for the precious gift of rejection.

Rejection Refines Your Work

As a writer, I’ve been patted on the back by a few handsome rejections. During the process of finding a literary agent to support my work, it was like homecoming all over again. “Would you like to go to the dance with me?” Uhm, no. And, no. Who are you? How did you get my email?

Once an agent was willing to be seen on the webisphere with me, there was the task of landing a publisher; it was like senior prom. Talk about rejections.

At the time of my first book, one publisher told me, “We like your writing—a lot!—but we are going to pass. You just aren’t popular enough.” Duh. I’m not popular at all. I also heard this after my first book was published and my agent began to pass around a proposal for a second book. This book never came to be. My proposal went to numerous publishers, made it to the final rounds of many board meetings, only to hear back, “Sorry, kid. Here’s a nickel for your troubles.” I got accustomed to the rejection emails. And I’m grateful for all of them.

Rejection refines your work and your calling. Getting the snub helped me look at my work and ask, “What can I do better? Is this really good enough?” When rejection comes with constructive criticism, instead of smashing DELETE, listen. Rejection refines.

Rejection helped me think about my calling. “Do I really want to be a writer, or do I like the idea of being a writer?” “Am I gifted for writing, to serve the Church of our Christ, to taste and see that he is good—or do I wanna write cause it sounds cool?” A defining question for us all. Is this for me or for the glory of Christ? If it’s for Christ, rejection is absorbed, it has no sting. But if it’s for me, it’ll sting like a swarm of wasps. Rejection helps us resolve to live for the fame of Jesus.

And then one day, three publishers were interested in my first book, Gospel Formed. I’m so grateful that Kregel wanted to take a gamble on a two-bit writer like me. While a few publishers passed on Humble Calvinism, there were two publishers who believed in it and almost fought each other for it. (Kinda sorta.) I’m so grateful for The Good Book Company.

Rejection Creates Gratitude

Rejection isn’t forever. It’s a moment. It will pass. And God will lead us to what he has for us. It might be something totally different than what you had originally dreamed, but God will never serve his kids scorpion when they ask for fish.

And when God does drop a blessing in your lap, gratitude should follow. Blessings, in specificity, should never be expected. A proper understanding of denial will foster a demonstrable level of thanksgiving. A bratty response to rejection won’t allow for a humble thanksgiving. Brats expect blessings. Biblical Christians are thankful.

I’m so thankful for the agent and publisher God allowed me to work with—I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve any of my heroes providing a blurb for my book. Most importantly, I don’t deserve the great kindness of Christ—this is the posture of the Christian life, emails, tweets, Sunday, the mall—I’ve been so blessed by Jesus, what could possibly cloud out his glory?

You can pout and kick dust all over your twitter feed like its home plate, or you can be grateful for anything and everything that God sends your way.

Rejection Reveals Idols

When I didn’t get a contract from the publisher that many thought I’d be a shoo-in for, I was disappointed. But not depressed. Not dejected. That idol was already toppled by the first rejection email. And it kept getting knocked over till the arms and head were lobbed off like Dagon. Rejection helps kill the idols in the heart. The amoeba idol of approval rose to the surface, and God wouldn’t let it hang around. Rejection showed me how ridiculous my heart can still be.

We can either handle rejection like King Saul and throw spear-tantrums, or we can handle it like Jonathan. Did he pout when he lost the throne of Israel? No, he trusted the Living God.

It’s ok to be disappointed when our dreams and goals aren’t granted to us, but be not depressed. Rejection shouldn’t lead us to dejection. We trust the good and sovereign One.

Rejection And The Sovereignty of God

You will never be rejected beyond the scope of your heavenly Father. Nothing escapes his gaze. He is in control of all. He will always work all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). Every steely moment of rejection is a part of God’s cosmic plan to transform us into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). And let’s not forget who Jesus is, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

The gospel is the ground level good news of a rejected man, who was rejected for our acceptance. Let all of the earthy rejections line up and circle the globe, for we have been accepted into the heavenly places because of our resurrected Jesus. “Whom have I in Heaven but you!?” A publisher might be ashamed to you have on their website, but he’s not ashamed to call you brother or sister. Yes, that person may not want to be seen in public with you, but the Lord Jesus wants to be seen in front of the whole universe with you.

Christ, the rejected rock, is now the Cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:7). Our Cornerstone. Our foundation. Accolades and dreams are more sandy than we realize. But Christ, he’s solid. Real. Eternal. Rejection has lost its sting, for in the gospel, we are accepted with him.

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