By Emily Conrad
When responses to my debut novel started to come in from my launch team, a friend asked if the positive feedback encouraged me.
Though, yes, the praise was a momentary boost, and no, I don’t want to consider what might’ve happened in my heart if the initial response had been the opposite, I had to confess that the good things people said didn’t truly bolster my confidence.
That brought a wry chuckle from my friend. “Oh, so you’ve noticed.”
Yes and no. I tend to believe I’m being realistic.
I’ve gotten enough critiques, rejections, and low contest scores to know my writing is neither perfect nor universally appealing—no matter how much praise comes in. But oh, how I long for it to be.
Those of us who crave acceptance hear criticism loudly. Often, too much so.
We can treat the symptom by limiting negative feedback. Personally, though I worked with critique partners, considered the feedback of judges, and worked with my editor prior to publication, I chose not to read reviews of my book after it came out.
Still, the underlying problem remains.
As a human and as a writer, I have a great need for acceptance that forms a deep chasm in front of me.
No opinion of my work, however negative, is responsible for carving that canyon in my heart.
No opinion of my work, however positive, is going to touch that void, much less fill it.
He saw the chasm into which I would throw the positive words any human might gift me. He saw my fleeting, soon disappointed hope that given enough of those words, the chasm would fill.
He saw how I’d watch the negative words fall into the black abyss, hoping to at least learn the depth of the problem.
He knew the futility of these efforts, and He offers a better way to me, and to you.
John 2:24-25 tells us Jesus didn’t entrust himself to people. And how good that He didn’t! One day, they cheered for Him. Another, they called for his death.
He didn’t look to human responses to validate Himself or His mission, and likewise, human responses cannot validate us or our efforts.
This chasm, this craving for acceptance is so deep and wide, only God can fill it, and only the cross can bridge it.
God loves me. Because I am in Jesus, there’s no condemnation against me. Talk about a five-star review!
The needs revealed in me by the process of publication are not an order to try harder, work longer, or call it quits for a less vulnerable profession. The needs revealed in me are, as they’ve always been, an opportunity to let Christ fill my emptiness to the very brim with His love until that love spills over to others.
In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prays that we would “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you will be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (NET)
Did you catch it? Filled up.
We sometimes fall into thinking that next thing is going to fill the acceptance void. But the moment we turn from finding ALL of our worth in Christ, we pull the plug at the bottom of the chasm. God’s love for us doesn’t lessen, but our understanding of it drains right out, and no amount of human acceptance is going to fill us back up.
Only Jesus can touch this need, and His hand is already outstretched, offering healing, hope, and fulfillment.The needs revealed in me by the #writinglife are not an order to try harder, work longer, or call it quits for a less vulnerable profession. @emilyrconrad #ACFWBlogs Click To Tweet
Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys coffee. It’s no coincidence her debut novel, Justice, is set mostly in a coffee shop! She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect on Facebook and Twitter.