I usually allow weeks years for time to blunt emotion before I pen a post about a tough spot.

But today I’m writing in the sharp edges. It will not have the buffer of perspective, nor will it have the softness of time. It will be raw, torn and unfinished. Because it is true.

It started on Mother’s Day 2006, when my husband handed me a wrapped gift.

“Open it,” he urged.

I could see anticipation in his eyes. This was not a Mother’s Day coffee mug.

I ripped the paper from the packaging and almost fell out of my chair. A laptop. No more fighting over the family desktop, no more squeezing out a few sentences in between all the homework and bookkeeping. No more waiting to dream.

“I want you to write,” he said, eyes shining from the inside out. “Anywhere you want. Anytime you want.”

Tears. Rivers of them. For one of the few times in my life, I felt understood. He knew this writing thing mattered to me, made me feel alive. He knew, and wanted to help me fly.

Within months, I met with success, getting my first two submitted articles published in well-known print magazines. An unheard of scenario for a rookie, leading me to believe I’d skip over the excruciating publishing process I’d heard so much about.

Not so much. In the years that followed, I pushed out query after query, only to receive rejection after rejection. I agonized over proposals, only to get a “pass.” I read books, attended conferences, asked questions, made changes. All while trying to be a devoted wife, mother and employee. I’d never worked so hard in my life.

Then last year happened. And this year. And cancer and three littles entered my world at the same time. Life swirled, making me dizzy with the spin of it. And I wondered if I’d need to let the writing die. How would Iβ€”could Iβ€”do this hard thing? The weight of it all was too much.

Cheered by believing family and friends, I continued, hoping maybe the Father who ordained all things had also called me to them. That maybe the writing was, also, a piece of His plan. To write the story while I stood in the middle of it, in all it’s messy, undoneness, before hindsight cleaned it up and made it presentable.

So I wrote. Agonized over another proposal. Prayed, wrestled, stayed up late at night and woke up early. Squeezing out words from sparse minutes in hopes the effort would prove worth it.

But today I received a blunt critique, a rejection that made the long line of others read like compliments. And although I know it’s part of the process, although I recognize I’m in great company in this club of unwanted misfits…

My heart hurts.

I still see my husband’s bright eyes as I unwrapped that laptop. I still see the young woman who believed she could do this writing thing.

And today I feel like I failed them both.

Tomorrow will be new, and the failure will ease as reality reminds me this, too, is part of the process. But for now I grieve and ache to hear the words, “Well done.”

This is why I write this post. Because I know many of you long to find your way and still feel a bit lost. Many of you dream only to doubt it’ll ever come true. Many of you scrape and spend and wonder if your efforts will ever be worth the terrible cost.

I will not talk you out of your pain or mute your grief.

Instead, today, I’m sitting with you in the middle of it. With all it’s sharp edges and unfinished lines.

It hurts. All the striving and believing and hoping, only to be dashed in the trying. But this I will say:

The fact that you’re bleeding means you’re living.

And for that I say, Well done.

Today, we cry. You and I. Together.

But tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Maybe, you and I, we’ll try again.

What sharp edges do you endure today? We’re with you in it.

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