Updated: Sep 25, 2022
The Truth About a Lie I Was Telling Myself
How was the writer's conference?
A simple question that is asked out of genuine care and curiosity.
Yet, when I hear those words, insecurity hijacks logic. Self-doubt transforms the questions, and all I hear is, did you get an agent? Is your book going to be published? Is there finally proof that you are not just a gigantic fraud destined for failure?
Is this what the innocent person asking the question means? Probably not. But it’s all my ego understands, so it comes to my rescue attempting to answer these unspoken inquiries.
I hear myself respond. No, I didn’t get an agent but… And I launch into all the amazing feedback I received and how much I learned, and how I am so much closer now. I must validate the reasons. I must tie my rejection up with a pretty little bow. I must convince you that I am not a fraud. I swear! I'm not!
This response has not been sitting well with me, so I reflected on the real question and tried to unveil the lies.
Here is what I discovered.
The Writers' Conference was not at all what I wanted, but so much more of what I needed.
I didn't get an agent; this is true. The agent I met said she loved my story and that I was a strong writer. This is also true. She then asked me if I was of a certain ethnicity and told me that since I am not, I was not the right person for her to represent this story with. It was painful to hear, and I was tempted to anger. However, instead, I gained empathy for anyone who has ever been told if you were only of a different race, gender, color, or religion, then we would accept you. I gained a sense of understanding. I asked God to comfort those experiencing similar rejection and to show me how I can love deeper, better, and wider.
I didn't get a publishing deal; this is true. But what I am tempted to hide is how envy threatened to steal my joy. How close I was to wishing failure upon another, with some twisted belief that it would affect my success. Envy is a pervasive seedling. If left unchecked, it will grow roots deep into our hearts and bloom into full resentment, weaving poisonous barbs of hatred throughout our lives. So instead, I asked for forgiveness. I prayed for God’s will over the person’s life. Remembering that I always, always, always want to cheer others on. I always want to hope for their best. I would rather never publish a single word than give over to a life of comparison and jealousy.
The truth is the conference was just okay. Nothing remarkable happened. Still, even this depends on what you deem remarkable. Because the truth also is, I got to help other writers take the next step in their path to publication and support others who are in the middle of pursuing this same dream. So, might that be remarkable after all?
Contemplating these raw and vulnerable events led me to ask myself an even deeper question; what am I valuing?
In Matthew 8:28 (MSG) Jesus says, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”
The answer to this question is nothing. There is nothing in all this world that I want to trade my soul for. No agent, no book deal, no amount of money or prestige. It is so easy to get angry, jealous, or disappointed when we have a dream or a desire that is wrapped up in our feelings of self-worth.
But when we remember that Jesus is the one in the lead and that He has asked us to embrace suffering while sacrificing ourselves, suddenly we can see the true treasures we have gained from an experience that might not have been what we wanted, but what we needed.
I wanted an agent; instead, I was given empathy.
I wanted to walk into that conference and be the best; instead, I was taught the dangers of envy.
I wanted to be impressed by the teaching and dazzled by the events; instead, I got to encourage others.
At the end of the day, which of these is better for my soul?