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Vol. XV • 1993

Painful Acceptance: The Cost of the Word
Celia Jolley

Writers universally dread the rejection notice: the recognizable SASE burns hot in any handful of mail. However success has its own particular pain. "We have accepted your article" brings an inward cringe along with the exhilaration. The writer must go public. Those deep, private thoughts and fresh imaginings born pure upon blank pages are ushered out into the glare of the public eye. Once out of his hands, they may meet curiosity, rejection, and scorn as well as appreciation. A part of the intimate self has been exposed.

This strong sense of privacy surfaced early in my childhood. My artistic endeavors were hoarded and hidden so that even my parents seldom were offered a glimpse into my secret life of imagination. "I'll show you my picture if you'll show me yours"' my brother once prodded as we sketched side by side in the back of our sixty-four Ford car. After viewing his drawing, I suddenly reneged. A scuffle ensued whereupon late my drawings in order to prevent him from taking possession of it. That child in me still has the urge to "eat my words" rather than to send them out stamped, sealed, and delivered to unknown editors and possible realms beyond.

This is a bigger issue than shyness. The Christian life is full of the tension of meekness in all disciplines. Somehow, we have gotten the fruit of the Spirit "meekness," confused with "weakness." Reuben Welch says that it is not a word of personality type, or lifestyle, but about a relationship with God. Moses is the great example of meekness in the Old Testament; Jesus, in the New. (Numbers 12:3, Matthew 11:29, & John 5:19). Both knew God face to face. Yet the meek are mighty when their intimacy with God is used to lead others; from out of the cloistered prayer chamber to become a voice crying out in the wilderness.

Beecher said, "I don't like these cold, precise, perfect people, who, in order not to speak wrong, never speak at all, and in order not to do wrong, never do anything." Only the conviction to pick up the sword of the pen to do battle for truth or the irrepressible creative urge that seeks to grace the world pushes me on. True, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy literature of good report is hard to come by. We are called to fill the void. We need to lift up our eyes and readers to lofty things. Good fiction can do this while good writing can put the backbone in convictions. The pen is still mightier than the sword. Whether it is fulfilling a need for fiction that uplifts or a pen flashing from a burning heart of convictions, I write on, hope for acceptance, and bear up under the sense of personal loss that exposure brings.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory...full of grace and truth." It cost God dearly to let His "Word" go out into the world. It is worth the price of the calling to send out words of grace and truth. Sydney Smith said, "A great deal of talent is lost to the world for the want of a little courage."

"Painful Acceptance: The Cost of the Word"
CSSHS • Creation Social Science & Humanities Society • Quarterly Journal

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