At some point, anyone involved in motivational or inspirational communication will touch on the necessity of leaving the past behind and moving on from a painful experience or time of life in order to grow personally or professionally.
Millions of people spend billions of dollars each year on counselors helping them overcome past issues in their lives.
For Christians, leaving a past behind through forgiveness and redemption is a cornerstone of the Christian walk.
However, many authors remember every failure as if it were a millstone around their neck, crushing their spirit and threatening to undermine their work.
An author writes a book, which never sold to a publisher or didn’t sell well as a self-published work, and they give up.
For other authors, success is a millstone.
Multiple bestsellers can lead an author (and publisher) to put so much pressure on each new book to be as good or better than those preceding, making an otherwise enjoyable and fulfilling writing career a virtual literary death-march.
Or, an author might have been published and a book sold well, but then was never able to achieve the same success again. Initial success raised expectations (their own and others) and they have been a disappointment ever since.
Like the football player who scored four touchdowns in his first game and then didn’t score again all season.
Some authors have had their lives changed negatively both by their success or the lack of success. Both extremes can be destructive.
Marriages have been destroyed.
Families altered significantly.
Friendships fractured permanently.
Church involvement affected.
All because of either a publishing success or failure.
Most authors don’t truly grasp how much being an author places them in a precarious postion, if they allow it. You are choosing to be a “public person” resulting in being the target of both appreciation and criticism.
It is a risky business if you are not prepared spiritually and emotionally.
The best way to deal with it is through selective amnesia. (Often this comes naturally with age!)
Remembering only God’s faithfulness and his residency in you is the only thing that really matters. Everything else? Let it go.
Christian authors, who write beautiful passages on God’s faithfulness and his presence in the life of a believer, can sometimes be the very ones to forget the truths about which they write.
They forget their identity is in Christ, not in their writing.
They forget God gifted them with human relationships, not the first printed copies of a book.
They forget God is in control, not them.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians discussed leaving the past behind for fellow believers when he wrote,
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14, NIV)
“Forgetting” and “straining” are two very important aspects of being an author.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
“This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:16-19 NIV)
Forget failure, remembering only the lessons learned, be thankful for them, and strain forward.
Forget success, remembering only that you worship a God who blesses, be thankful for it, and strain forward.
Remembering and holding on tight to failure or success will eventually weigh down on you and stifle your growth as a writer and your availability to be used by God in meaningful ways.
No Christian writer would desire this to happen.
John de Sousa
Powerful truth! My heartfelt thanks, Mr. Balow, for such a timely, potent reminder.
Oh, Dan. What a beautiful reminder of who and Whose we are!
God only requires our obedience. That’s all we are responsible for – obedience. The consequences – positive or negative – are up to God. He is responsible for the effects our obedience causes.
Thank you for your wise and well-grounded words in this blog.
“The best way to deal with it is through selective amnesia. (Often this comes naturally with age!)”
Ha ha ha! That was awesome, Dan! 🙂
Only by letting go of the past can our arms be free to embrace the present.
Forgive, let go, and move forward. They are key but also hard to do. By keeping our focus on Christ we can do it. Thank you.
How true. This can apply to any goal in our lives. One thing that helps me is to take each day at a time and try to center on the blessings of God even if I have at present failed in my goals.
Yes, forgetting what is behind and pressing on! Thank you, for this timely post!
What a powerful post, Dan. Thank you. I’m a “newbie” with so much to learn, and I’m looking forward to what God wants to do in my life through writing. I’ve heard some mention they sabotage their own work because they’re afraid of success. I don’t want to do that. Then I see others puff up because they reach their successful goal. I pray I don’t end up like that either. And of course I hear about the many rejections (I’m not such a “newbie” in this area) and how writers give up. I pray to God I don’t walk away from what He is calling me to do.
All of this to say, thank you for reminding me to keep my focus right where it belongs: On Christ.
I’m going to pray for this “amnesia” so no matter the outcome, I’ll stay close to God.
M K Simonds
Ouch!!! (but thank you)
Sheri Dean Parmelee
Dan, one of the biggest challenges I have is remembering that God is in control of the timetable of my life. As an extroverted go-getter, I always want things yesterday. The day before would be even better. Thanks for the eyes-wide-open look at the world of publishing. I always learn so much from your blogs.
Lois Y Easley
Thank you, Dan, for excellent exhortation!!
Thank you. That is an excellent reminder for me and for many others, I am sure. God bless you.
Wow, what a powerful message! Thank you for the reminder that our identity is in Christ, not in our writing.
Christine L. Henderson
Forget the past failures and focus on our real future in heaven where there is nothing but success in joy with Christ.
Thank you for this powerful truth in season. ⚓?
Kathy Sheldon Davis
Thank you, Dan, just thank you.