Joy in Failure

James 1:2-3 Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

Off the mark. Rejection. Failure. These are words none of us want to hear. We don't want to be tempted, because we might fail.  But failure is the only way that we can learn. We learn from our mistakes, not our successes.

As writers, we have to develop a "thick skin" when it comes to rejection. According to, my acceptance rate is higher than average, and yet, I get rejected about 60% of the time. More than half the work I submit gets rejected.

Luckily, most of the editors of magazines that I submit to give me some sort of explanation, so I learn from my mistakes. To keep from getting rejected, I have multiple critique partners and editors, which I learn from immensely. 

Failure is a harsh teacher. But we have two options, we can accept our failures with joy and thankfulness for what we learn from them. Or we can crawl in a corner and let failure suck out our joy. What choice will you make?

"Once upon a time" - A short story I wrote #blog #amreading

This is a fairy tale I wrote a few years ago. It's not my best work, but it still brings tears to my eyes when I re-read it.  Today is Easter, and it's a day to remember our King and Father's sacrifice.  So here's my little fairy tale, dedicated to Him.
Once upon a time, a princess - born to be great, to have a happy ending, to conquer the world –needed to mature and understand her father’s love for her.  So her father placed her in the home of the enemy camp, just like every prince and princess before her.  But before he left, he gave her many promises to keep hidden in her heart.

                “I love you.  You are mine. I’ll be watching you, and I’ll make sure things never get so tough that you can’t handle it.  Don’t forget who you are.  Don’t forget who I am.  Talk to me and I’ll walk and talk with you.  And trust me that I’ll be back for you and you will have a happy ending.  No matter what happens; never forget I love you.”

                At first, the princess easily remembered her father’s promises.  She could almost hear his voice saying every word.  She cherished every intonation of his voice.

Then her new parents in the enemy camp told her how her father didn’t exist.  They said, “How could anyone who supposedly loved us all just abandon us into this awful world and then leave his children to fend for themselves.”

  And then her new father abused her in hideous ways, and told her that she belonged to him.  When she told her new mother, she called the princess a liar and beat her. She cried out to her real father, but he never answered and his promise that he’d be watching started to fade in her mind.

When she went to school, the children picked on her because she looked and acted differently, and because she refused to do the bad things that they were doing.  When they discovered she didn’t defend herself, they beat her and spat upon her whenever they were not under adult supervision.  The torture waited for her every day until she feared going to school, and she found no solace at home.

She cried out to her father, but he never answered, and his promise that he’d make sure she’d be able to handle anything that came her way started to fade.

The teachers at school taught her that no one placed her into her circumstances – instead everything happened by chance. They taught her that she was no princess, but developed from a series of accidents, just like everyone else.  And she would never be any better or worse than anyone else.  Happy endings did not exist unless you become happy where you were, and learned to be accepted by becoming like everyone else.

She asked her father about these things, but he never answered, so she stopped talking to him.

Then they tested her on these teachings, and made her repeat them over and over again for twelve long years until she began to believe it.  she started to conform herself to behaving like the other children, so that she no longer looked or acted different, and started doing the same things that they were doing.  Soon, the children stopped picking on her and started to pick on the new boy who claimed to be a prince.

Love took on new meaning for the princess in this world.  Her parents told her that they loved her, yet abused her daily.  All the boyfriends that she had in school wanted to do with her the same things her father did.  All the girlfriends that she made were nice at first, then seethed with jealousy every time she got any good thing or made a new friend, or gained any boys attention – and they would abandon her when she asked them for help.

She started to believe that love was nothing more than a fairy tale that she used to believe until she knew better.  Deep in her heart, the desire to find love still remained.  So when a young man one day told her that he loved her and would take care of her forever, she believed him.  She married him and thought that this would finally be her happy ending.

But he never seemed to understand her or what she needed.  They fought often about money, their jobs, their children, and every little thing that came along.  Their home no longer held any comfort for her and as another young man at work started to compliment her and seemed to love her more, she found herself falling into his arms.  She divorced her husband and left her children.

The princess chased love everywhere it promised to be, and it always seemed to be just out of the reach of her fingers.  She grew older, and things got so bad that the young men no longer paid attention to her.  Her ex-husband hated her, found a new wife, and refused to let her see her children.  Their children hated her and didn’t want to see her anyway.

She became poor and started to live on the street.  Sleeping in the gutter at night, she began to hear a voice that seemed familiar, but that she’d forgotten a long time ago.

“I love you.  You are mine. I’ll be watching you, and I’ll make sure things never get so tough that you can’t handle it.  Don’t forget who you are.  Don’t forget who I am.  Talk to me and I’ll walk and talk with you. And trust me that I’ll be back for you and you will have a happy ending.  No matter what happens, never forget I love you.”

The voice was not believable, so she didn’t believe it.  How could she? No one loved her.  If there was anything she learned in this world – it was that she belonged to no one.  Things were always so tough that they were out of anyone’s control.  She was nothing more than trash in the gutter, and how could anyone call this ending: Happy?

The princess grew weak and one day fainted and crashed her head on the sidewalk.  A stranger found her and took her to a hospital, where she discovered she was dying.  Though the hospital told her husband and children, no one came to see her.

 Then a nurse came in who acted different and looked different from everyone else.  She treated the princess differently as well.  The nurse always did above and beyond what her job required.  If the princess needed extra help after hours, the nurse would come and do it, and would be happy while she did.  The nurse read to her, sang to her, and sometimes when she thought the princess was asleep, the nurse would pray over her.

“Why do you do the things you do for me?” The princess asked her.

“Because you and I have a lot in common, my father told me so.”  The nurse answered.

This confused the princess.  “Who is your father?”

The nurse told the princess all about her father.  How he loved the nurse, how he watched over the nurse and made sure things never got so tough that she couldn’t handle it. How she trusted him, and how he walked and talked with her everyday and that she never felt alone.

A pang of jealousy hit the princess, and she didn’t understand it.  Those promises that the nurse spoke of felt as though they should have belonged to the princess, too, but didn’t.

As though the nurse heard the princess’ thoughts, she said “These promises belong to you, too.  My father is your father as well.  But he told me that you stopped talking to him.  That when things got tough, you stopped believing in him, and no longer heard his voice.”

The princess felt guilt in her heart and started to cry.

The nurse continued, “He told you that things would be tough, and to trust him no matter what.  He told you to never forget him, or who you are, but you forgot.”

The princess heard the words, knew that they were true, and cried embarrassingly.

“You are a princess.  You belong to him, and he’s coming back for you to make a happy ending for you, but you’re not ready for him.”

Downtrodden, and feeling lower than when she slept in the gutter, the princess could hardly meet the nurse’s gaze.

“Do you remember?  Do you want to get ready for him?”

The princess looked up, and a spark of hope ignited her heart. She could barely squeak out a “Yes.”

The nurse told the princess a strange story about the king.  How the king put himself in the enemy camp, to be abused and reviled.  The enemies had their way with the king, and when they’d had their fun, they killed him.

Shocked, the princess gasped. Her father, the king was dead.

“No,” the nurse said, smiling, “He didn’t stay dead.  This happened long before either of us were born.”

By allowing his own death in the enemy camp, the enemies could no longer kill any of his children.  He fulfilled a law written before the enemy camp existed, one they hardly remembered themselves.  The enemies couldn’t keep his children as their own, and they couldn’t harm the heart of one child unless he/she allowed them to.

“And you, princess, have allowed them to harm your heart.”

The tears sprung up afresh, because the princess knew it was true.

“What do I do?” The princess asked.  Bedridden, with no strength in her body, there wasn’t much that she could do. 

“Just believe.  Believe the promises that your father gave you from the beginning.  Trust him, love him, and believe that he loves you.  And then you’ll be ready for him when he comes.”

“But I let the enemies get to my heart.  Not only did I stop believing, but I’ve done so many bad things. How will he ever forgive me?”

“He loves you, and that’s what love does.  It covers up everything bad that you’ve done, every mistake that you’ve made.  And that’s what he’ll do when he comes; Love you.”

“How?  How do I do it?  How do I believe?”

“Remember the promises he’s given you and trust them.  Live in them.  Never let them go.  Soon you’ll see that the way you look at the world will change, your heart will change, and when you’re ready, he’ll come. He’s waiting for you to be ready.”

When the princess heard this, joy filled her heart.  He was waiting for the princess to be ready.  She determined to be ready.

Every morning she repeated her father’s promises to herself.  “I know you love me.  I am yours. You are watching me, and you’ll make sure things never get so tough that I can’t handle it.  I won’t forget who you are.  I won’t forget who I am. I’ll talk to you and you’ll walk and talk with me. And I’ll trust you that you’ll be back for me and you will give me a happy ending.  No matter what happens, I’ll never forget that you love me.”

She believed and she became ready.  Before her father came, the princess began to heal and meet other people, her brothers and sisters who were waiting for their father as well.  Some were ready and some were not.  Those who weren’t ready, she tried to remind of the promises.  Some listened and some didn’t.

The princess talked to her father and soon began to hear his voice.  She tried to make peace with her family and though they were not ready to make peace with her, she talked to her father about them and hoped that one day they would.

                Full of hope, she continued to work through the rough waters of life until her father came.  He fulfilled all his promises, and took her home to be with him.  And the princess lived happily ever after.

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