Being Thankful During a Season of Disappointment

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Like many in my generation, I went to college determined to study and major in the subject that I was most passionate about. I did not know exactly what it would look like to work in that field, but that wasn’t the point. God would provide the opportunities I needed to be successful, I was confident about that. I even thought through how I would continue to use my degree while being a stay-at-home mom (a long-time dream of mine), and that further justified my choice to major in Creative Writing.

After graduation, the doors did not just start flying open for me the way that I had prayed that they would. I took many intermediate jobs, biding my time until my big break. But the perfect job just didn’t come along. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I applied to dozens of writing jobs, but the competition was just incredibly fierce. Even though I graduated with professional job experience, internships in my field, suma cum laude, and even had a handful of small publication credits, it didn’t matter. I kept getting rejected. Even after landing several on-site interviews, across multiple states, nothing panned out.

Fast forward some months and I found myself married and in a transition period with some extra time on my hands. So I began to write a book. Like many new writers, I so believed in my new manuscript. I believed that this, this, was the reason that God had put me in a holding pattern. This was why He had closed all those doors. It was to push me to write this. And then, after completion, and edits, and beta-reads, and re-writes, and rewriting the re-writes, and sending in dozens of query letters, I still did not have a publishing contract. I mean, come on, God, what gives?

So I thought about it and prayed about it, and decided that God was calling me to persist. I mean who gets a best-seller on their first go-around? (I know some authors do, but honestly, I don’t want to hear about them right now.) So I wrote another book. And it was so much easier than the first. It just flowed from me. Then I hired a professional editor, did countless rounds of edits, and sent it off to agents. Lo, and behold, I got a lot of positive responses, I got requests for more pages and interest at writing conventions. But in the end, all of them still ended with the same answer: No.

Pause my writing life here, because I had a baby and she took up pretty much all my time for a good while, but I still picked at my writing and I meditated a lot on Hannah’s story in the Bible. Samuel chapter 1. Hannah prayed and prayed for a child and, in His timing, the Lord gave her the desires of her heart. So I kept praying that somehow my writing would find a publishing home and I would have a real career as a published author. I kept writing. I kept querying.

Well yesterday I received yet another rejection letter.

I haven’t counted them. I don’t think I could bear to know exactly how many times I’ve been turned down, but this one hurt more than the rest. This particular agent had requested additional material from me and seemed very interested in my concept. She seemed passionate and kind and I had allowed myself to hope that maybe this was it. Maybe it was finally God’s timing. I read her email over and over. Regardless of any positives the she mentioned about my book and regardless of all the times these agents had complimented my writing in their rejections, the answer was still No.

After nearly three years of hearing nothing but No, I began to feel like I was drowning in this season of disappointment. It wasn’t that all aspects of my life were disappointing, but this one was. It was so consistently disappointing and, even though I tried not to, I had come to put a lot of my self-worth in it.

Thanksgiving was not more than two weeks ago and suddenly the long list that I had drafted of what I was thankful for (my daughter, my home, my husband, my family, my dog, water, food, friends) felt like it was so far away, somewhere out of my reach. How could I be grateful to God when after all these months, years, of praying he had not given me even a glimmer of hope that my dreams would someday be fulfilled? When was he going to give me the desires of my heart?

And then my daughter, a new walker, toddled up to me and reached.

My disappointment didn’t magically go away, the hurt didn’t disappear, but I knew that through her expectant gaze and little hands, God was sending me a physical reminder that His blessings were great and His timing was perfect.

I was reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Maybe God is saying No to my dream of writing and publishing books right now, but He said Yes to my long-time dream of being a stay-at-home mom. He gave me the gift of writing to help occupy my mind during the endless hours of nursing a baby and to help me cope with the isolation of long days with very little adult contact.

So instead of re-reading rejections, I choose to be thankful today for this season of motherhood. A season of snotty noses and poopy diapers and snuggles and smiles and first words. It doesn’t make the sting of rejection disappear, and it doesn’t erase the longing for a profession that I’ve spent a decade working towards, but it does make me grateful for the time I have right now, for the sweet baby kisses I have right now.

And I will remind myself unceasingly, that God gave me this passion of mine and encourages me to continue to use it.

Today I thank God for his gifts and I pray ever more fervently that in His timing this season of disappointment will fall and new opportunities will spring. I pray for perseverance, joy, and thankfulness until that time comes.

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