He Knows Better

Another private message. Another email. So sorry, no one wanted to read your submission. We only publish solicited work, but good luck peddling your wares elsewhere.

The form letters. The messages from friends “in the business” who can’t help. I look at the old ones along with the new sometimes.

Another friend suggests I self-publish. I would have to self-edit too because I can’t afford a bad editor much less a great one and yeah, we all know how that would turn out.

And many more encourage me to keep submitting. I do, but I’ve learned not to expect much. Maybe not even anything.

For a long time it bothered me. I would negatively compare myself to the other chosen to collaborate on a project. Even worse, there were times when I’d think, “I’ve got as much talent as her/him, they just know more and better people.”

A very kind journalist friend told me my writing is good but not the “wow, outstanding” that will easily win followers and garner me invites into the invites only club. My best chance is submissions and things falling onto the right editors desk.

An editor friend has said that my voice is unique, just like everyone else’s. So I just have to keep trying to find the one person who will love it.

I can easily fall into a pity party over rejection letters and advice that wants to encourage me while also whispering, “it might not work out.” Most days I try not to think about it. I try to keep doing…something. And to keep my chin up.

I think about the days when I wasn’t sure I’d get married because I hadn’t found a boyfriend at the Newman Center. He knew better.

I think about the day I stared at the sky after a miscarriage thinking parenthood would be something else friends would experience and I would not. He knew better.

My life hasn’t turned out at all like I thought it would. And that’s okay. Because He knew better. Maybe publishing will never be in my life. And that’s okay because He knows better than I do. Maybe all the rejection professionally and being passed over both professionally and personally will lead me to some great life lessons or some huge success. He knows better.

I know some of my family think this is defeatist talk. But I’ve left this professional stuff to God because He knows what He has planned for me. After a huge round of rejections in writing and job hunting a year and a half ago, I posted this on social media:

Well, got some disappointing news on the job front. I can probably stop waiting for the interview phone call. But I’m choosing to share this information because while I have been specifically asking God for this need in prayer, while I’ve done the positive affirmations and such…God’s answer is no or at least not yet and God is not a genie who grants our every desire and makes our lives easy and perfect (Job 1:21). He is our loving father and while He is able to make all things possible (Philippians 4:13), He will only do the right thing as a father should. His plan is not this, not right now. And while I’m okay with that, it’s okay for me to be a little disappointed (I am) because I do not know what is in store. I don’t know what’s next. Perhaps this “no” will lead to a better opportunity, or maybe better timing? Maybe God just wants me to be in my current situation longer so that I can appreciate it more? I can’t know, I can only trust and keep on praying. God has not abandoned nor punished me with this turn, He will mold me into who I am supposed to be if I allow Him to (Jeremiah 18:6). He will use what and who I am for His purpose. His plan is far superior to what I can dream of (Jeremiah 29:11). Through all of this I must continue to decrease while He increases (John 3:30). His mercy and goodness continue to follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).

To my shock, I got a message from a friend who’d just weeks before lost his three-year-old daughter in a horrific car accident. He said my message encouraged him and reminded him that God would work even through his terrible situation. I was embarrassed I had even been complaining when my disappointment was nothing compared to his grief. But God has a bigger plan than my disappointment or even the tragic loss of a child.

All those times that God knew better, He taught me to trust Him more. My husband was on the other end of a wrong number phone call not praying at the Newman Center. Trust Him, He knows. My babies were coming but I had to appreciate the difficulty of having a child with special needs. Trust Him, He knows. Maybe my writing will help someone else who is struggling in ways I can’t imagine…I think of the man in today’s Gospel: Lord, I believe, Help my unbelief (Mark 9:24). I struggle. I cry out in moments of desperation. That verse is a prayer I rely on heavily. 364 days after our first failed listing of our old house, we closed on our new ones. Lord, I believe, Help my unbelief. I know You know better. You show me time and time again. You must increase, I must decrease. My faith is not written by what other people think should happen to me, it is written by You. I refuse to submit to others believe is success in my life and wait to see Your better plan. I will not hope in the plans of me, but believe in Yours.

 

Seven Things I Learned Losing Oliver

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  1. It’s not silly to ask for prayers for your pet. No, he’s not a child and he’s not a child dying of starvation, dehydration, lack of medicine or from the ravages of war. But that doesn’t make him less deserving of prayer. And truly kind, truly Christian souls will recognize that, will not accuse you of assigning the title of “child” to your pet and will kindly offer their prayers. As my dear friend Katherine said, “If Saint Francis can sing to the moon and Saint Anthony can preach to fish, I don’t know why anyone can’t pray for a cat.”
  2. Even when you know in your heart you’ve made the best decision, the compassionate decision and as my grandmother said, “the merciful” one for your pet, it still hurts unbelievably to have to make that decision. It feels like no matter what decision you make it is the wrong one. And no matter what it will leave you wishing you’d had any other option. (Because the other options they gave you, they told you would do nothing but isolate him from you until he did die.)
  3. There will always be debate about what happens to our pets after they die amongst Christians of good faith. I think of Pope Francis telling the little boy whose dog died, “Paradise is open to all God’s of creatures.” And it makes me think, “why wouldn’t it be?” The Director of Faith Formation at our parish loaned me a book entitled, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, in which a little boy’s cat dies (the same story that played out in our house this week). The little boy’s father tells the little boy we don’t know a lot about heaven because we haven’t been there. I echoed that to my boys. And I told them that while I wasn’t sure, I hope it was a lot like this when I (hopefully) get there (eventually).

  4. Telling your kids that you had to put their beloved pet to sleep is the absolute worst. It’s like reliving the moment 1000 times in a second and their grief is like your own magnified by infinity. When your seven-year-old tells you, through tears, that his heart is broken and will never be fixed again, it breaks you like you’ve never been broken before.
  5. Grief is a very strange thing. It comes on strong as if it will never let up. Then seems to subside quickly only to creep in at inopportune times. It makes one boy withdrawn and another louder and sillier than before. It strikes when I pull up into my parking space expecting to see him sitting in the window…and he’s not there. I am fine talking to a co-worker about what happened but cannot put up the leg rest on my seat because he used to jump up there and snuggle but won’t anymore. Ever again.
  6. I pick up his ashes today. I have no idea what new pandora’s box of emotions this will open up.
  7. Oliver is special. I say that in the present tense for a reason. He reminds me still that pets are great reminders for all of us of the great love God has for us. The kind of love that truly comes without conditions. The love that forgives and bears all wrongs and therefore shows great mercy. I don’t think a day will go by when I do not miss Oliver, like I still miss my childhood dogs Winston and Misty and the dog I lost five years ago, Gilligan. I always thought Gilligan and Oliver would have been great pals. I am sure that he will continue to teach me about God’s love the rest of my life. And for that reason while my heart is broken, it is still full.

RIP sweet boy. I hope we made your lives even a small fraction as wonderful as you made ours. We love you. We miss you. We thank God we got to be your humans.

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