I have been disappointed more times in my life than I can count. Honestly, the pain doesn't get much easier and it seems to always sting even if I am expecting it. Like waiting for a punch in the face...just because you know it might be coming, it doesn't make it hurt less. But I am learning that how I deal with painful blows and disappointment changes me from within and spurs me onward.
My latest disappointment:
Telling my story is hard, like really hard. It's like opening up the creaky doors and windows of my soul, exposed for everyone to see. My vulnerabilities, shame and doubts are on full display for the public. For the past few months my wife and I have adamantly been working to figure out the business side of getting my story out there. We are learning so much, but still feel like little lost sheep wandering aimlessly.
We have made some amazing connections in the publishing industry, one being a very prominent agent out of Franklin. She asked us to send her a book proposal for the project but we really had no clue what that even entailed. After what we thought was enough research and work we sent her a 7 page proposal and a few chapters of the book. I'm not sure there was one thing good about that proposal. I'm surprised she didn't just throw it away and just give us a "Oh honey, you tried didn't you?" *pat pat pat* Instead, she gave us some challenging critiques that pushed us to work tirelessly on revamping the entire proposal. We prayed and sought council from friends concerning every section of the proposal. Then we sent the email with the revamped proposal and manuscript and waited...
I checked my email, everyday, sometimes several times a day. I had built my hopes up so high, thinking any moment I would get a cheese-ball response of "Hey! Let's meet, have coffee and get you signed!" not that I even drink coffee but I would for that. Instead, yesterday evening I got the dreaded rejection letter.
Something encouraging. Small talk you don't remember in the moment because it is lost in the excitement , more good stuff that I will have to remind myself of and then the but, "How the book is organized as of right now won't work commercially for a publishing program."
BAM! There it was, my punch in the face.
She went on with more reasons of "why I will not be accepting your proposal" ...each one cutting deeper. I sat there reading and re-reading the email and tears started to form, tiny ones at first then full sobs rolling down my bearded man-face. My first set of thoughts was:
I am going to be a disappointment to my wife, family, and friends who have encouraged me and worked so hard with me in this process. How will I tell them my story wasn't good enough? Then, my old friend self doubt swept in like a destructive flood-river full of impaling sticks and debris knocking me down at every turn, gashing me from the outside-in. Screw it, I give up. I'll just keep washing windows. Why did I even think this would work?
I sat there weeping in my mess. Alone. But not. In my weakest moment, with my snotty face, I called on my Father in Heaven who has never left me or disappointed me. "Now what, God? What do I do next?" He responded tenderly:
Do nothing. Literally do nothing in this moment.
Rest in the calm that comes after the wave of disappointment.
That silence after destruction.
The moment before the rebuild.
He reminded me that none of this was my plan, anyway. It is His for me and I need to simply trust.
I sent out a group text to my family of friends to tell them the news and immediately got responses of encouragement:
"You have a choice to let this beat you down or let it be a launching into this new season of your life."
The Father says, "I have you in the process...this is not a stopping point...it's moving this all forward to where I am orchestrating it to go"
"Depend on GOD and keep at it because in the LORD GOD you have a sure thing."
Then about 30 minutes later, my wife and I cancelled all of our evening plans to just be together and share a meal alone. We walked to the park and our quirky music professor neighbor from up North who rarely gives out conversation more than the neighborly small talk, sat down beside us with his old schnauzer, "who knows more cuss words than most people."
After asking us how we were doing and getting a lackluster response from both of us, he inquired more and we shared our defeat. He nonchalantly started spilling wisdom, telling us fantastic and comical stories of his similar past experiences. There was one main word of wisdom that stuck with me. Spoken from his old wise Northern accent he said: "Eh, don't give up, the hard work is already done. You did all the labor. Now you have time to refine it 'til it fits."
He's right, my family is right, and my friends are all right. This is not a quitting point, this is a refining moment. I won't let disappointment define me. I will not have character of hopelessness, but instead that of hope.