“The unending paradox is that we do learn through pain.” — Madeleine L’Engle
There I was last Sunday, sitting on my porch reading, when I came across a fascinating and inspiring article in the newspaper. (My porch is my favorite spot to sit, think, read, reflect, dream and write.)
As a married mother of three, L’Engle spent years pursuing her passion for writing on the side. But, as the article states, she felt “spasms of guilt” for trying to write and never having much success. At age 40, L’Engle reportedly almost gave up writing altogether. But then, she had what she called her “moment of decision.”
That moment, according to the article, was when L’Engle realized that she had to keep writing for herself, even if she never successfully published another book again. And so, she began anew.
L’Engle got the idea for “A Wrinkle in Time” while on a family camping trip. She wrote the book, submitted to her editor, and then the rejections started to pour in. “A Wrinkle in Time” received “forty-odd rejections,” according to the article. L’Engle called each one “a wound.”
Nevertheless, she persisted, and “A Wrinkle in Time” went on to become the bestselling phenomenon that it is today.
I just love that L’Engle had “a moment of decision” that motivated her to keep pursuing her passion, even when the odds seemed stacked against her. I also love how L’Engle described each rejection she received as a wound that she managed to heal from and triumph over.
Triumphing over rejection — be it personal or professional — requires a decision to do just that. It requires you to pick yourself up and decide to persevere and continue to endure.
Each of us will face rejections in our lives and they will indeed wound us. I know this from firsthand experience. But, remember this: people who endure wounds are also survivors. In my opinion, they are the true warriors among us.
Our wounds are our openings. In a conversation I had with doctor and bestselling author Dean Ornish this week (you can watch it here), Ornish said that our suffering can be our gateway to transformation.
I love that idea. I love the notion that we triumph, not in spite of our wounds and our suffering, but because of them.
Wounds hurt us, but they can also make us more human. They make us more vulnerable, more open and more connected. Suffering can also lead us to discover our greatest selves. It can lead us to change and to become more evolved, more compassionate and more loving to ourselves and to others.
Since we are in the season of giving right now, I encourage you to think about this: What if one of the greatest gifts we can give one another this season is the gift of our own vulnerability?
What if sharing our suffering, sharing our wounds, and sharing our moments of decision could help another person see themselves anew? What if sharing our story could allow another person to have their own “moment of decision” to change, endure, persist, and triumph?
I love that L’Engle persisted. She didn’t give up. She wrote for herself and for her alone.
Knowing why we do what we do is critical. It’s essential for our own personal joy and happiness. It also gives meaning to our lives.
Recognizing that our wounds are assets will empower us — not weaken us. We have the power to start anew at any moment. We just have to make the decision to carry on.
So this season, tell someone your story. Tell them about your wounds, about your rejections, and about a moment when you decided to continue forward. I bet it will be one of the best gifts you give this year.
Dear God, thank you for the gift of life and for the opportunity to grow and evolve. I am so blessed to know that while things may not always go my way, I do have the chance to start anew and make the most of this precious time you’ve given me. Amen.