Finding purpose beyond an audience

Finding purpose beyond an audience

Written on 01/07/2021
Abby Ciona

The value of creative work goes deeper than gaining acceptance

Written by Abby Ciona

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my writing published. I sent a short poem to a magazine. When I didn’t hear back, I thought they rejected it.

Months later, I opened the newest issue and saw my poem on the front page. The world seemed to stop.

My eyes went wide, my hands began to shake, and my heart raced. Being published was always a hazy, distant dream of mine, but that day it became a reality.

I’ve always loved to play with words. I find delight in telling stories and exhilaration when I write something I know is good. Driven by that first victory, I excitedly submitted more stories and articles.

But just as quickly as I discovered the world of acceptance, I stumbled into the world of rejection.

Sometimes rejection is silent—the editor simply doesn’t respond to a submission. Other times, rejection starts with “Thank you for submitting!” and transitions to, “Unfortunately, we’re unable to accept your piece.”

None of us like it, but every writer faces rejection. It’s hard to see something you spent hours creating be turned away. It is disheartening to rewrite, resubmit, and discover it’s still not good enough.

After multiple rewrites and new submissions with no obvious progress, I sometimes feel discouraged and rejected, and my confidence plummets. I have been told I was a good writer. But am I?

While struggling to be published, I began to connect with other young writers. I was encouraged to hear they had similar stories and hopes for the future.

I realized God gave me this dream to be published for a reason and that my rejection doesn’t define me: God does. Success doesn’t define me: God does. The quality of my work doesn’t define me: He does.

No matter what happens with my writing, He has a plan for me and will be with me wherever I go.

This new perspective helped me relax about the acceptance and rejection aspect, and I focused instead on being productive and creative. I submitted a devotional article to a publication. It was accepted!

Since that amazing day, I’ve continued submitting articles and stories or entering writing contests almost weekly.

Writing is how I process my thoughts and see my world from a new perspective. On the other side of my hardest struggles or most exciting victories, I often look for ways to express those experiences so they can encourage others.

Through devotionals, I explore challenges in my faith and share what God has taught me through His word. Truths told through stories can move people in especially powerful ways. There is a reason Jesus taught using parables!

When I get discouraged, I remember the thrill of that moment when I first saw my work published. I remember my writing can make a difference. I remember God made me a writer for a reason. I remember I’m not alone.

When I face rejection I know He has something even better in store for me than publication, and that encourages me to persevere in my writing. And when I’m published, I pray my writing will encourage and inspire others, ultimately pointing them to Jesus.

I don’t understand God’s plan, but even if things don’t go the way I want them to, I have hope knowing God is writing my life story into something beautiful. I don’t write just to get published—I write to express the stories God has inspired in me to write.

Maybe you’re a young writer, or a creator of a different kind. Maybe you’re unsure of how your creative dreams can contribute to God’s kingdom, or you’re wondering if it’s worth facing the struggles a Christian artist faces.

Being a creator is not a one-time thing; it’s a journey. And through the highs and lows, I come back to Hebrews 12:2 again and again.

It reminds me, when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can have hope, no matter what happens next. God is the creator, and He created us to create and be creative. And since He is the author, writing the story of the world, this means He wrote in us the urge to tell stories.

Even when things seem difficult, don’t bury your talents. Persevere, knowing God is working in every moment, even in the rejections and challenges you face, to use your gifts for His incredible story.

Be brave and dream big with God. Create from the heart and make beautiful things from the desires God placed in you.