My wife, Sheila, is not just a writer she is a very good writer. She has published lots of articles and is in tons of anthologies but she hasn’t been able to get a book published yet. I have to tell living with a writer is a lesson in dealing with rejection. It is easy to become discouraged.
A fifty-something writer had written a manuscript for a book and sent it to publisher after publisher without success. He grew so discouraged by all the rejections that he threw the manuscript into the wastepaper basket. As his wife tried to salvage the manuscript, he told her sternly. “We’ve wasted enough time on this book. No one wants it. I’m through with it. I forbid you to remove it from the wastebasket!”
Well, if you had been married as long as I have you would know how well forbidding your spouse to do something works! She wanted to obey her husband but she ultimately decided that this manuscript had to be seen by at least one more publisher. They lived in New York City so she made an appointment with a prominent publisher through a contact she met in church. She arrived at that publisher’s office with a most unusual looking package. She tore away a covering of brown paper from the cylindrical package and underneath it was her husband’s wastepaper basket still holding his manuscript. She told the publisher that her husband had thrown his manuscript into the wastepaper basket and forbidden her to get it out. Her reasoning was that she would not technically be going against her husband’s wishes if she did not retrieve the manuscript herself so she asked the publisher to retrieve it for her. He did. He read it. He loved it. He published it.
The writer in this story is Norman Vincent Peale; the manuscript was The Power of Positive Thinking. The book that Peale tossed in the trashcan eventually sold 30 million copies.
It’s hard to imagine that the grandfather of the Positive Thinking Movement was ready to give up on the book that launched his career – but he was. I read this story when I’m ready to throw in the towel. I share this story with Sheila when she feels like throwing in the towel. It is an ironic reminder that no one is immune to discouragement! Everyone wants to throw in the towel on occasion. Fortunately for Norman Vincent Peale, Ruth Peale knew Galatians 6:9:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.”
When our efforts don’t yield immediate results, we may be tempted to call it quits. Paul reminds us not to focus on the results, but to focus instead on the process of doing good. What a difference that makes! Most of my discouragement comes when I am so focused on the destination that I forget to enjoy the journey. The joy is in the journey!
If we do not give up….if we do not become weary in doing good…if we focus on the work…if we do not stop writing (or doing whatever has been given you to do) we have the assurance from God’s word that ultimately we will reap the harvest.
What makes you want to throw in the towel? Whatever it is, I hope you have a Ruth Peale in your life that picks up the towel and brings the harvest!