“The Art of Rejection”

person playing cello
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What happens when the founder of Apple listens to one of the greatest cellist in the world? “When Yo-Yo Ma visited an ailing Steve Jobs and played Bach on his Stradivarius cello, Jobs teared up and said, “Your playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.”

Three things led author Philip Yancey to God: natural creation, the romance with the woman who became his wife, and classical music. During his early years at a conservative, somewhat legalistic college, he’d break one of the rules by sneaking out of the dorm late at night and enter the chapel to play the piano.

The arts, according to Yancey, are an avenue where Christians can shine. “Perhaps the best way to convey the values we cherish is not to talk about them all the time, or to try and legislate them, but rather to create literature and art in which they fit as firmly embedded nails.” (Vanishing Grace)

And to be given opportunities to use the God-given talent each of us has is a beautiful thing. But it’s not all rosy. There are the thorns of rejection. You may believe in what you create, but not everyone shares your passion. Some artists can’t get over that hurdle, so they quit.

macro photography of brown and white bird on spike branch
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There is another word hidden inside of the word rejection: eject. I compare rejection to sitting in a passenger seat of a convertible. The top is down and all of a sudden the driver hits an eject button, and I’m flung out to land who knows where. The driver has already sped off, and I’m left to deal with my self-doubt on a deserted road.

Rejection hurts after you’ve put a lot of time, energy and soul into a project.

Although I’ve painted fifteen watercolor pictures, I’ve only sold one. In the world of the arts, how do you know if you should paint, write, sculpt, design, sing, or act? When you can no longer deny the feeling, urge, and calling inside yourself to express it. I paint because I love the medium of watercolor regardless if I receive recognition or not.

The same applies to writing. I write because I have to get it out of my psyche and my heart or I’ll go insane. I can’t not write.

From Let your Life Speak, Parker Palmer seems to agree, “Vocation at its deepest level is, “This is something I can’t not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain to anyone else and don’t fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling.”

Max Lucado was rejected thirteen times before his first book appeared in a bookstore. I’ve been to four writer’s conferences to date. During the third one in Santa Cruz, California, two representatives from two publishing houses rejected my work. One didn’t like the title of my proposed book of meditations. This wasn’t my first rejection, but it felt like it was.

Fortunately, we were given some free time during the itinerary. A friend I met at the conference said, “Let’s go see the California Redwood trees.” I needed to clear my mind so off I went. God’s creation amazed me again. You cannot be around those trees and not look UP. Some are over 300 feet tall!

That night I emptied myself on paper in journal #34. On March 15, 2008 I wrote, “I wish my faith was strong as the California Redwoods, tall, robust, and hearty. Their limbs pierce the sky reaching toward God, like hands, willing to embrace Him one more time.”

I’m not the only one who has felt that way. Ken Gire wrote, “Please come near Lord. I’ll be the one out on a limb waiting.” Maybe you are barely holding on. You may be ready to jump because the circumstances, agony, and deceptive feelings never let up. And the limb you’re sitting on looks like it could break before the sun goes down.

So how do you back away from a weak limb of faith and climb further up the tree toward the light?

Again, again, and yes again, you’ve got to be “in” God’s word if you desperately want help living it “out” in our difficult world.

For me, I also read, quote, and memorize the very words of God and then throw the promises back at Him. “Nelson, that sounds irreverent.” Hold on a minute.

For example…”God, you said______but I feel like_______.”

More specifically, Jesus, you said “No one can snatch them (me) from the father’s hand” but someone just snatched my dreams. (NLT John 10:29b, emphasis mine)

God, your servant Paul said, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us” but wherever I look it seems everyone rejects me. Praise God, You have never rejected me, and You never will! (NLT Romans 8:31b)

God, you said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” but I feel like a failure and although I feel all alone in my disillusionment, I trust you for the strength to put one foot in front of the other and try again. (NLT, Hebrews 13:5b)

To acknowledge how we feel is to embrace our humanness. But to believe God’s promises is to accept the help, hope, and strength only He can provide for the sting of rejection.

Some people will never experience what God can offer because they rejected Him a long time ago. Jesus knows what rejection feels like but he spread His arms wide on the cross. Those arms are still open. Why not let Him embrace your doubts, desires, and dreams. He’ll never reject you.

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California Redwood pictures courtesy of Instagram: @theloverspassport and @parksproject

click below to watch Yo-Yo Ma perform

2 thoughts on ““The Art of Rejection”

  1. Babe said “Nelson is a great writer. God has allowed him to go through some things which has given him a lot of depth and understanding.” When he was walking out of the room, he was saying, “Nelson is a good boy.” And I totally agree with him!! God really used you in a mighty way with with this devotional… and we both enjoyed the video. Thank You !!

  2. Your writings are deep , beautiful and meaningful. Rejection hurts no matter how many times you experience it. Jesus felt that sting of rejection in this world.. So he feels for you! Just never give up, just move forward. There are lots of publishing houses and lots of representatives. Just keep writing and exploring until you find that right one. I would love to see you illustrate your writings with your skills as a painter. Jesus loves you and He wants you to keep on pressing in until your dreams are fulfilled.

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About nelsonhaynes500words

My name is William-Nelson-Haynes. I mentioned my full name because I want to share more than just two-thirds of me. Since life is a journey, it is my hope that this blog keeps you from feeling alone. Please check out my background, education and experience in "The Writer" part of the Menu on the top left-hand corner of the home page. Other Menu items you can scroll through are the Authors who influenced me, Magazine Articles I write for Good News Magazine, the Top 15 books that affected me spiritually, and the other hobbies that also make me come alive.