Handling Disappointment

by Steve Laube

Businessman looking at his laptop

I do not like to experience disappointment. I do not like rejection, even when it isn’t my personal project being turned down. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news.

And yet I do experience disappointment, rejection, and the telling of bad news…every week. That is the nature of the arts.

The arts (meaning music, writing, dance, and painting) is comprised of thousands of hours of practice; long days of solitude; truckloads of self-doubt; in a world where everyone is a critic.

However, I am inspired by the recitation of the failures of Abraham Lincoln during the 26 years BEFORE he was elected President of the United States. During those 26 years he:

Lost his job.
Defeated for state legislature.
Failed in business.
Sweetheart died.
Had nervous breakdown.
Defeated for Speaker.
Defeated for nomination for Congress.
Lost renomination.
Rejected for land officer.
Defeated for U.S. Senate.
Defeated for nomination for Vice President.
Again defeated for U.S. Senate.

I find that list invigorating. Twenty-six years ago I was a young bookstore manager and our youngest child had not yet been born. In these ensuing years I experienced many disappointments and failures and yet God has blessed our family in so many ways (and our oldest was married just two weekends ago).

If you get slapped with a rejection letter today.

[“Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.” Jeremiah 45:3]

If you are told by your agent that your latest proposal is flat and needs work.

[“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15]

If your editor goes on a rampage and takes a machete to your manuscript.

["We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character . . .” Romans 5:3-4]

If your self-talk begins shouting the word “Loser” in a shrill voice.

["As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless . . . like chasing the wind" Ecclesiastes 2:11].

If any of these things hit you, remember:

“Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

31 Responses to Handling Disappointment

  1. Anne Love October 14, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    Great reminders Steve! Laughed at the self talk–”Loser!”–humbled by Abe’s list. And perhaps the trial by fire serves just that purpose, humbling us for the future God’s story has for our lives.

  2. Leslie Nelson October 14, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    Wonderful post. I particularly liked the scripture references and the phrase “truckloads of self-doubt”. LOL, isn’t that the truth?

    I knew those things about Abraham Lincoln, but it was great to be reminded. Thank goodness he didn’t give up. My take away here is–neither should we.

    I think I will bookmark this post so I can be reminded again later.

  3. Cindy Camp October 14, 2013 at 5:23 am #

    This was a God moment. I was shedding a few tears over a B+ (my first after a series of “A’s”) on a master’s degree paper. I was doing all the things you listed and then, BAM. Your blog comes in as I’m berating myself. My professor swung the machete mercilessly and I was in shock. Your comments and timely verses (some of my favorites that nevertheless vaporized in the middle of self-pity), eased the wee blow to my ego.

    Blessings, Cindy Camp

  4. Brenda Garrison October 14, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    Thank you, Steve. Just what I needed today.

  5. Lancia E. Smith October 14, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    A timely word, spoken in season. Thank you, Steve, for your long-faithfulness and the torch you hold up for us to follow. Blessings and every grace to you today.

  6. Jeanne Takenaka October 14, 2013 at 6:03 am #

    Steve, what great reminders about the perspective we can/should have during times of disappointment. I, too, was aware of all the disappointments Abraham Lincoln walked through before becoming president, but that list is always an encouraging reminder to not give up.

    1 Corinthians is one of my favorite verses. So glad you shared it.

    And, if/when I am told a proposal is flat, or some other aspect of my story/writing needs work, I hope to be the one who is willing to do my very best to improve it, for God’s glory. Usually when an agent tells a client that, it’s with a desire to make it the best possible, not to cut down the writer. Keeping the right mindset is essential in this biz, yes?

    Thanks for the encouraging reminders!

  7. Connie Almony October 14, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Thank you for this. I love the scripture. EVERYTHING we need is in that Book!!!

  8. Diana Derringer October 14, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Thank you for the great reminder.

  9. Patti Jo Moore October 14, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Excellent post, Steve—thank you.
    Those verses you shared are such wonderful reminders for us, and also a reminder of WHO we need to keep our focus on! :)

  10. Marci Seither October 14, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    As much as I hate being disappointed about things in life and along the writing journey, I have to say that those disappointing times bring about the biggest growth. Thanks for the encouragement that we are not alone. If God is with us..who can be against us.

  11. Jaime Wright October 14, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    And may we boast of God’s greatness during our disappointment. As our disappointment is just the beginning of HIS great adventure!! Love it!

    • Jaime Wright October 14, 2013 at 7:45 am #

      Someone remind me I said this when I get my next let-down! ;)

  12. Meghan Carver October 14, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    Wonderful post today, Steve! Thank you. I’m saving it for future reference. I know I’ll need it again.

  13. Sheila Haemmerle October 14, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks, Steve. Perfect timing.

  14. Angela Mills October 14, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    I needed to read this today. I’ve yet to experience professional rejection since I’m still writing my novel, but I’m beat down by a stressful weekend personally.

    Bookmarking this for when I get my first rejection :)

  15. Micky Wolf October 14, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    And they all said, “Amen”! Great post, Steve. :)

  16. Evinda Lepins October 14, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Steve,
    love the scriptural comebacks!!!!!! And so appreciated the reminder of all of Abraham’s disappointments and failures turned to character development….
    Have a gr8 week! And congratulations on your daughter’s wedding/marriage….. Is she the dancer?
    :)

    • Steve Laube October 14, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Evinda,

      Thanks for asking. This is our musician daughter who lives in the LA area.

      • Evinda Lepins October 14, 2013 at 11:20 am #

        Way cool! I think the happiest day of my life was seeing my son get married and know in my heart it was the happiest day of his life!
        Blessings

  17. Susan E. Thomas October 14, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Can I just get this post intravenously, please? After ten years and over 100 rejections equaling a 92% rejection rate, I think I need this in a drip.

  18. Ron Estrada October 14, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Great post. I think it’s a matter of confidence. If I’m confident that I’m continuing to improve and that I will be published eventually, the rejection is just one more less. Zig Ziglar and others like to say that every “no” only brings you one step closer to the “yes.” I know I’ll get the “yes.” And the sooner I get back to work, and the harder I work, the quicker that day will come.

  19. Amber Perry October 14, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Steve,

    I LOVE thinking about Abraham Lincoln–he is such a great example! He experienced so much trial, but he kept going despite it all. This is just the encouragement all of us hopeful wannabes need. Thank you for sharing!

    Amber

  20. KT Sweet October 14, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Inspiring message. Received my novel’s first rejection on Fri. After sharing my disappointment with God, I could be grateful. Can’t get a ‘Yes!’ if I’m unwilling to accept the ‘No!’ Thank goodness Abe Lincoln didn’t give up. The worst thing is to give up when the LORD calls us to keep going. Sigh, it’s still harder some days than others.

  21. Terrance L.Austin October 14, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Thank you Steve. After reading your post a thought occurred to me, Not all rejection is bad if it’s in the individuals best interest to receive it. For instance, a proposal is rejected causing the writer to not only look closer at his/ her work, but also gain a thicker skin to possibly handle rejections later. GOD excepted Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s offering because it was not his best to offer. Yet, GOD took the time to explain to Cain why his brother was excepted and his offering rejected. If Cain had handled the rejection properly, he could have looked at his rejection as a blessing and did better at a later date. But we all know he handled being rejected in a terrible way learning absolutely nothing.
    Bless you Steve. Again, Thanks…

  22. Terrance L.Austin October 14, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    KT Sweet, I find that the stories of proposals being rejected inspire and motivate me more than those who are excepted and gain nothing from it. One hit wonders’ stories of a book making six figures for 3 weeks straight has not lasting impression for me as hearing of the author that wa sent rejected numerous times before actually landing a gent and having a lasting impact on readings for many years. Keep writing and working hard, I believe you reading this post by Steve and being in your situation is not just mere coincidence. Perhaps, a blessing in disguise. Bless you.

    • KT Sweet October 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      Thank you, Terrance. This blog post timing was no coincidence, for sure. I appreciate how I learn from Steve and his band of agents’ varied posts. It reminds me why I want to keep writing. God bless you, too.

  23. Deb Kastner October 14, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Bless you, Steve, for your words today. I know they are much needed in my life and those of my writer friends, as well.

  24. Roland Mann October 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Rejection (failure) makes success that much sweeter.

  25. Jackie Layton October 15, 2013 at 3:01 am #

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing this today!

    1 Corinthians 15:58 is especially encouraging!

  26. Effie-Alean Gross October 17, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Steve,
    Thank you for the reminder that successful individuals didn’t have instant acceptance. I know that you have personally worked hard to be in your current position. You have my admiration for staying faithful to God’s call. When discouragement comes, all we need do is “roll back the curtain of memory now and then,” and ask God to show us where we were and where we could have been…one of my favoite songs. Yes, we have much to be thankful for and this present condition is only temporary. Praise God for all of His goodness, including a bright future. I’ve had over 200 articles sold, but still await that first book sale. I’m encouraged today. Thank you!

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  1. Writing and Publishing News and Notes | Sally Apokedak - October 15, 2013

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