I’d written another post for today, but I’ve set it aside for another time. The thing most on my heart is the discouragement I see so many dealing with in their creative pursuits. I know some very smart, gifted people who are at the point of finding other work, because the results have not turned out as they’d hoped. The question that circles in their minds is “Did I miss God somehow?”
I can’t answer that question for anyone else. But, I try to remind myself how the world defines success is not the same way God defines it. Additionally, God is not as concerned with the result as we are; He’s all about the journey.
If you find yourself in a place of disappointment (and believe me I know what it’s like), here are a few things to think about.
Go back to why you started. Review how God called you to this creative journey, and hold onto that. It may be for a season you have to cobble together other sources of income, but don’t let go of what God has whispered into your heart.
Don’t compare yourself with others or their successes. Madeleine L’Engle used to quote Marlowe, “Comparisons are odious.” They are. L’Engle knew the sting of disappointment, too, as she went nine years between book contracts. It’s easy to look around and see the apparent successes of others, and begin to think you are “less than.” Don’t do it.
Go through the doors that open. Put aside your preconceived notions of what your journey should be, and watch for the unlatching of unexpected doors. It may not be what you’d hoped, but sometimes as Robert Frost wrote, “way leads onto way.”
Keep working. Don’t just sit and wait—work and wait. If you stop working, your craft will suffer. I recently came on a drawing I did many years ago and was surprised at how good it was. I couldn’t do the same thing today, as I’ve not kept a drawing journal in quite some time. But in this season of my life, I do make sure I write something almost every day.
Almost always, it’s going to take longer than you think. I blush when I remember the expectations I had ten years ago about how long it would take to get a book in print. LOL. LOL. LOL. People ask me about my screenplay under option, and I have to tell them that statistically, it takes about thirteen years for a screenplay to see its way into production. Yes, there are exceptions, but having realistic expectations saves us from even more disappointment.
Listen for what God is saying to you. In order to do that, we have to spend time before Him in prayer, meditation, and study.
Don’t give up. Keep at it. I once heard an author say that she believed the only people who didn’t eventually make it were the ones who gave up. It’s hard. It’s long, but hear this from one who’s been at it for a very long time: I don’t know what I might have to do in the future to support this call I feel God has on my life, but I intend to continue even if it means a day job to supplement the family income.
So, if the road ahead seems a bit fuzzy for you, please know it’s not fuzzy for God.
“By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” (Philippians 3:14-16).
Pressing on with you, friend.