Why Writing Success Takes So Stinking Long (And why it’s probably a good thing)

I thought I would have been further ahead by now.

After over twelve years of being a paid published writer, and after years of devouring marketing and leadership books, I knew some stuff. So when I decided to go full time with it, I expected my sideline freelancing career to swell to mushroom-cloud heights. Work would flow in beyond what I could handle. Money would pour in too, because I was finally prepared to press the button.

Alas, it has not proven to be so.

Eighteen months since officially going ‘full time’, I’m still beating the bushes for work and slowly — oh, so very slowly building up my clientele. Worse than that, going full time kicked off a full blown identity crisis.

New life stages can do that.

Instead of racing in any one direction, I find myself standing at a crossroad most days, wondering which path I’m destined or willing to commit to.

I confess, it’s frustrating to watch others rise to success with great speed and little effort, while I toil away, pushing the same dumb rock up the same dumb hill. Especially when I know God has called me to write, and I’m trying to follow Him.

Then a fellow Christian will delight in the ease and speed of their success, telling of how God rained jobs and connections and money on them and they didn’t have to lift a finger.

I’m glad. I really am. He does that sometimes and it’s awesome.

Most of the time, He doesn’t.

Most of the time, a waiting period or trial or desert precedes the promise.

This week, as I was thinking about the slowness of my success and my frustration with it, I remembered how God led the Israelites into the Promised Land.

He promised it long before He ever gave it. They had to wait. When they had finally been trained in the desert to obey and trust, they were at last led to the Promised Land.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for those forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.”

Deuteronomy 8: 2,5

BUT. Even when they were finally trained in the desert and sufficiently warned, the Promised Land wasn’t dropped in their lap. They still had to work for it. Piece by piece God would help them acquire it as they continued to practice the trust and obedience and humility they’d learned in the desert. He did this so they would not become overrun by the wild animals that would fill the vacant land (Deut 7:22)

Quick success is dangerous.

God warned them before going in that they must guard themselves against pride. As they would experience victory after victory, the temptation would be to think it’s because they’re awesome.

“After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, “The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!”” (Deut 9:4)

When I think of my own desire for quick and easy victory, I’m thankful for God’s warning to the Israelites because that’s exactly what would happen to me — I would become proud. More proud than I am already. I would forget everything I’d learned while I was pushing that dumb rock up that dumb hill.

I say this to encourage you.

If you’re feeling held back or slowed down, if you’re feeling like success, however you define it, is always just out of reach, take heart.

First of all, you’re not alone in your frustration. I don’t know about you, but I always feel better when I know I’m not the only one with issues.

Secondly, know that this thing you’re trying to do is going to take a while.

I sigh inside when I hear, “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. I’m a destination girl. I just want to get there. And quickly. But it’s desert time, and God’s not letting me out of here until I learn some things.

Maybe you’re in a desert too. Let’s resolve together to embrace the desert. God wants to spend time with us here, teach us, prepare us, and grow us in character for the next step. Let’s resolve to settle in and try to enjoy all we learn along the way.

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