17 – When You’ve Done Everything Right and Things Still Go Wrong
What if you’ve done everything right—you’ve tackled social media, you’ve refined your skills as a writer, you’ve done all the things your mentors and editor and agent and publisher tell you to do…and your career still doesn’t take off? In this podcast, we’ll address the feelings, and the black-hole reality, this situation creates. And together we’ll explore solutions that will take you beyond the black hole into the light of renewed passion and purpose.
What if you’ve done everything right, and things still go wrong?
We all feel that way at times, whether it’s in writing, our life, our job, our family, this is what happens. Writers can relate to that in terms of their career: you feel that all your hard work doesn’t make a difference. It could be when you pour your heart and soul into a message, and it’s amazing, yet the book doesn’t go anywhere. Or authors who were once best sellers are no longer getting the same sales. Or when a contract is cancelled. Or even with an award winner, the books don’t sell, and so the publisher drops them.
We are doing everything right, and everyone agrees that we’re doing the right things, and yet we don’t see the results we hoped for. We then get disappointed, or feel like everything we’ve done is wasted. We feel discouraged. On the heels of that discouragement, frustration and anger can seep in.
Let’s look at a Biblical man whose life seems to be the quintessential example of “Life’s not fair.”
John the Baptist’s birth was foretold by an angel. Prophecies said he would be great in the sight of the Lord. God gave him a message before he was born, so rightly so, there were many expectations of him even before his birth.
John’s message was to make a way for Jesus…to be a witness, to testify that Jesus was coming. You’d think a guy with this kind of mission before he was born, and whose life’s focus was to fulfill this mission, would be preparing in a place of holy study while being protected and cared for. In actuality, his holy place was the wilderness. It was not an easy life, and in some ways not a respected life by those who were supposed to know religion.
John did his job though. People heard his message and he baptized them. He did everything God asked him to do and was true to his message. Because of this, and his judgement of unbelievers though, he was thrown into jail. But even in prison, John still had the hope, and didn’t doubt. He wondered, though, when Jesus would come and take over. He lost sight of the bigger picture. His expectations were not met.
This is similar to how writers feel…
When it seems like things are really starting to happen, but then suddenly the calls stop, or we don’t get the same great response as before. We try to do everything right but don’t get the results we expect. Sometimes we get so focused on the steps, and where the steps will lead, that we also lose sight of the bigger picture.
It’s not about our career, it’s not even about ability, it’s about obedience.
It’s about doing what we need to do to open people’s eyes to the reality of who God is. Jesus commended John, saying he was the greatest prophet among men. He said John did everything right, and yet in the end, John was beheaded. John’s life seems like it did not line up with his faithfulness. He did everything God asked and this was his reward? What was the point of that?
As writers we could say ask the same question. Maybe our sales have fallen off, or after ten years we still don’t have a contact. We may question why we do this when everything we’ve done just seems like a waste of time.
With whatever happens as a result of our faithfulness to the tests God gives us, we have to keep these things in mind:
- We need to surrender, because whatever is going to happen will happen in God’s timing, not ours.
- We need to focus. Are we keeping our eyes on God? On bringing Him glory? Whatever happens as a result of our faithfulness, is going to happen in a way that brings God the most glory.
When you are struggling, go back and look at God’s character.
Look at who you know Him to be. You will then start to shift your perspective. Don’t look at your writing and think I did this, so this will happen. That’s not how it works. Faithfulness to God, obedience, they often don’t translate in God’s economy to being successful as the world sees success.
Everything we do out of obedience will come together for what God wants, whether we see the fruit of it or not. Doing everything right, everything God asks us to do, doesn’t mean we will see the results we want or expect, because we don’t have God’s eternal perspective. Like with John, our reward will be in Heaven.
In the here and now, we can surrender to God’s purposes for us.
We can fix our focus on Him and on bringing Him glory in everything we do. In the process of continuing what we know to do, we may gain His perspective. We can then be reminded of what His purposes are and what He wants to accomplish. We will most certainly gain His peace in the midst of it.
If you find yourself in a dark place where it seems like you’ve done everything right, but nothing has turned out the way you want, realize the story is not over. Your path isn’t done. You don’t know yet what the consequences are. You don’t know yet what the reward is. You don’t know what God is doing. We’re still in process. We can only find out from Him, through His purposes, through His perspective, what it will all mean in the end.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
We’d love to hear from you!
Have you found yourself discouraged or frustrated when you did everything right and things somehow just…fell apart?
How did you recover?