I had a good fight with my feelings today. I’m happy to say they didn’t win, but I’d be lying if I made out like it was easy. It was a disappointing email that brought me down early this morning — it was a reply to my application to sell my artwork at an upcoming hand-made market…
Thank you for your submission to our show. We would love to offer you a space, but as of right now we are full….”
I KNOW — it’s nowhere near devastating news, but I’ve been working really hard for several months getting my (expensive) ducks in a row, hoping to be a vendor at this event.
Negative thoughts blew in quick…
The applications went out 2 weeks ago, and they’re already full???
They don’t like my work.
Well… maybe they really are already full.
Or … maybe they just don’t like my work.
I’m just keepin’ it real, y’all.
I’d visited this particular market a couple of times over the past two years just to get a feel for the atmosphere, to see if it would be a good fit, to feel as comfortable as possible about taking this next step with my business, but now I have to re-think everything. Thinking is hard enough. Re-thinking is brutal! I’d have to find a new prospect. Yes, I was very discouraged. The funny thing is, I prepared myself for the possibility that I could be turned down. I know better than to think that anything in this life is guaranteed.
*Note to self: Never count on your own supposed mental preparation.
…those negative thoughts kept flooding in faster than I could bail them out, and sure enough, the overflow spilled right outta my eyeballs.
I refuse to beat myself up for crying, to compare myself to the proud “non-criers” out there who act like it’s a badge of courage to never shed a tear. I’ve learned (thank the Lord) that expressing honest emotion is critical to emotional health. The ability to suppress emotion is not courage. Courage is fully feeling what you feel and doing the hard thing, anyway. I don’t know anyone who isn’t discouraged by a setback, by rejection, by frustration, by failure. If tears are present along with the discouragement, so be it.
My honest release of emotion and request to God to “help me think right” soon led to Him reminding me why this disappointment was better than a success.
Just yesterday I listened to this excellent 6 minute TED Talk about GRIT — that is, passion and perseverance, and why it means far more than intelligence, physical health or talent. (If you have 6 minutes, I strongly encourage you to listen). I was so excited about it, because I had written something very similar in this post about passion vs. perseverance.
As I considered how important set-backs, rejection and failure are to grit-building, my thoughts overflowed with thankfulness that things didn’t work out as I’d hoped. The negative became positive. I could accept that what seemed to be a loss was actually a gain.
I get to encourage others because I have to fight and struggle myself. Shortly after experiencing my own setback, I was able to come alongside my son, who was frustrated to tears (because ugh, math sometimes has that effect on us). I didn’t shame him for crying. I encouraged him to feel what he feels. I shared that our struggles teach us to keep on keeping on when it’s hard. That doesn’t mean we won’t need a break, but our mind-set is not that we’re quitting. We’re simply allowing ourselves the rest to be renewed with the intention to go at it again.
When we’re anxious, crying, afraid & fretting — it’s a training opportunity to battle our feelings with faith hope and love, and that’s a good thing. It’s not our successes, but our struggles that make us gritty. We can lean into them, knowing that God is working out every detail of our lives for good.
“We need to be gritty about getting our kids grittier.” -Angela Lee Duckworth
While Angela Lee Duckworth is speaking of the temporal, I’m speaking of the temporal and eternal. As children of God, we can count on our Father giving us far better things than we hope for — fulfilling the desires of our hearts and making us like His Son. We can be gritty because He’s shown us the way.
In life, faith & art ~Jamie = )
P.S. This beautiful song was a grit-builder for my soul during a FAR, FAR darker time in my life.