Losing One’s Footing

by Grace Fox (reprinted with permission, Losing One’s Footing, October 8, 2010)

Have you ever felt yourself emotionally, mentally or spiritually slip into a negative space? Have you ever experienced a loss of perspective that resulted in discouragement or despair? I have. Quite honestly, many writers often struggle with this.

We spend hours in solitary confinement writing a message we believe could give direction, bring hope or change lives. We do our homework, researching the best markets for those messages. We attend writers conferences to learn more about our trade. We wrestle to understand and adjust to ever-changing technology and its effect on individual writers and the publishing industry at large. All this while trying to meet the expectations and financial burdens placed on us to market our work due to constraints on our publishers’ budgets. And then we receive the inevitable rejections, the polite no from editors. It’s easy to lose our footing, to grow discouraged, to lose sight of our calling, and to go out in search of a “real job.”

The Psalmist dealt with the same feelings but for a different reason. He’d poured his heart and soul into following God and obeying His commands. He’d done his best to live in integrity, developing and guarding an untarnished reputation. But then he began to question the effort he’d exerted. He wrote, “But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness…” (Psalm 73:2,3).

Comparing his lot as a God-fearing man to the prosperity of those who ignored God’s ways left him frustrated and envious. He asked tough questions such as, “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?” He began slipping into the abyss of discouragement, wondering if his efforts to follow God were worth it, but then he caught himself. He wrote, “Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked…Then I realized that my heart was bitter and I was all torn up inside” (vv. 17,21).

What enabled the Psalmist to realize his precarious position? Spending time in God’s presence. Doing so renewed his perspective. It helped him realize the slippery path he’d followed and the lies he’d believed about the prosperity of the wicked.

The Psalmist then regained his footing by reviewing assurances of God’s love toward him. “Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand,” he wrote. “You guide me with your counsel; leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever…But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do!” (vv. 23-26,28).

When I, as writer, feel my footing slip…when I allow circumstances within the publishing industry to discourage me…when I begin to question my calling…I must do as the Psalmist did and go into God’s sanctuary. I must withdraw for a time, pour over the Word, and seek God’s face in prayer. Doing so renews my perspective. It helps identify the places in my heart that need revival. And it reminds me that God loves me no matter how many books sell or how many contracts I carry. He holds my hand. He guides me with his counsel and leads me to a glorious destiny. Relationship with Him is to be desired and treasured above success by human standards.

This is where my heart is today. I received a rejection on my latest book proposal last night, and I’m seeking God’s face regarding where and how to proceed from here. If I focus on rejection and disappointment, I’ll surely lose my footing. But if I keep my perspective in the right place, my heart will be strengthened in Him. No matter what happens, God loves me and I am His.

How’s your heart? Have you felt your footing slip for some reason lately? If so, how did you regain your perspective?