Two days ago, I received bad news. My story did not make the list. I am not a stranger to rejections or sending in submissions that go unanswered, but this one really, really stung. You know that pain when you stub your little toe on the edge of your bed or on the door sill? Yeah, that's how it felt.
I had been waiting for months (months!) to hear the result of the competition. And y'all, I had put in so much work into my entry: reading and re-reading, staying up late to make sure I met the deadline, to make sure that I was putting my best foot forward. This was, literally and figuratively, my best. Yet it was not good enough. I did not even make the list of "notable contenders."
As soon as I saw that my name was not on the list, the Holy Spirit went straight into Comfort Mode.
"The Lord has a plan," He whispered. "Everything works out together for your good," He assured me. "I'm right here, Ronke. Right here."
I was hearing it all, but it wasn't sticking. My mind was already in overdrive. Doubt, fear and insecurity fell over me like a wet, heavy blanket.
"Maybe this writing thing is not for me," I reasoned.
My brain latched onto that thought, the devil fanning the flames. I thought about my recent writer's block on a book I am working on. I thought about the mediocre performance of my self-published book. And then I took it to another level, one we are all familiar with: comparing.
I compared myself to Chimamanda (laughable really, as if we are even remotely on the same level). Then, I thought of Tomi Adeyemi and her huge success with the Children of Blood and Bone series.
The Lord did not let up, though. He kept reminding me that He was there, that He was still God, that He had a plan, that I should trust Him to always be on my side. I heard it all, but it was hard to listen, even harder to trust when the list before me said otherwise.
An hour or two later, I had calmed down, but only a little. I didn't feel it, but years of sermons and Sunday school taught me to say, "I don't understand, Lord, but thank You that it happened."
My heart, though, was screaming: "I feel like a failure."
As I always do when I am feeling too much, I picked up my laptop to write.
However, for the first time in a really long time, my fingers hovered over the keyboard in doubt, fear, and anxiety.
"What's the point?" I thought to myself, "It's not like it's good enough to be published anyway. My writing is rubbish."
Just then, at the exact right time, the Lord retorted, "Those are My words you are talking about. It's not rubbish."
It was exactly what I needed to hear. It's true my story was rejected, yet I am not a failure because I have a gift inside me.
These words in my head, these words I write are a gift - a talent - from the Word Himself and they will "achieve the purpose for which He sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
So, dear reader, you're not a failure. Whatever your talents are, they came from God. And because God doesn't fail, you are not a failure. What you have inside of you, Who you have inside of you, is strong and real and greater than what people say (1 John 4:4). And I promise, you will succeed.
Just keep trusting and listening, even when you don't understand.
All posts by Ronke (unless otherwise indicated)