Beauty in the attempt

by You Have My Word

music piano play keys broken

Dear Hons in Creative Writing Applicant

We regret to inform you that we are unable to accept you into the Hons in Creative Writing programme for 2013. There were many strong applications this year and we simply could not accept all of the applicants as we have limited space in the programme.

Yours sincerely,


Torn. This was my next big thing and it had been snatched from my grasp faster than rose can rip through comfortable cotton. The bottom line is this: all I want to do is write. The problem is this: I wrapped my identity up in that dream. In one email, the next neatly planned twelve months unstitched. I struggle to sew on a button on a good day so to have the tapestry of my life picked at was a little more than I could handle.

This last year has been an uncomfortable weaving process of putting patterns together, patching holes, cleaning blotches of dirt, cutting off useless bits and creating what, I’d like to think, is as close to the Master design of a Persian carpet as possible (in a metaphorical sense, of course). That sounded awfully convoluted, sorry. In essence I have been bent and shaped and moulded this year in ways I never thought possible. God is in the business of constantly making our character more like His – this isn’t always easy. And maybe I haven’t yet passed the test of understanding that my worth is not founded in what I do, as much as it makes up a large part of who I am.

From the evening I sent in my application, I feared the moment I’d receive the email – whether I was accepted or rejected. Until you’re in a situation you never fully know what your response is going to be. I was in the middle of watching The Lorax with a great friend when the email came through. I saw it in my inbox and didn’t open it until I had read all my other mail. The first line of the email said enough. I smiled; I think I was afraid that if I cried straight away I wouldn’t be able to mop up the mess.

What followed was the most delicious cup of Milo I have ever had (made with a butt-load of love, thanks to said friend); a brief, objective but partially emotional conversation about why I should have been and why I wasn’t accepted; a few minutes on the piano (I do that when there are too many heart stirrings to put words to) and then I got into bed.

When I sat down at the piano, against every intricately knotted fibre of my being I realised that this was the chance I had to decide where my hope would be. I could have chosen a bitter-sweet melody that tugged and pulled at the fragile strings of my soul, but instead I chose to sing life.

“I know that you are for me, I know that you will never forsake me in my weakness…”

“I will rise when He calls my name – no more sorrow, no more shame. I will rise on eagle’s wings – before my God, fall on my knees and rise…”

“You’re the Lord of all creation and still you know my heart, the author of salvation – you’ve loved us from the start…”

“Oh Christ, be the centre of our lives, be the place we fix our eyes, be the centre of our lives…”

“I will worship you for who you are…”

Against the grain of every blood-pumping vein I chose to worship. And right there I felt like the battle had been won. Not to say I wasn’t unravelling even as I sat with my fingers glued to the keys, but I chose to shred seams in the safe hands of the Master designer.

I dragged myself to bed – body, mind and soul. A brewing storm had just broken outside complete with pelting rain, sheets of vicious lightning and whip-cracking thunder. I felt like my heart mirrored what was happening outside. I cried. Between sobs I had Instructions for a bad day by Shane Koyczan playing in my ears – “know that if today is as bad as it gets, remember that by tomorrow, today will have ended.” In pieces.

Today I hovered somewhere between devastated and sedated. Well, those were the words I chose anyway. I think the devastated was my rational mind trying to reason and explore and justify why I wasn’t accepted. Wasn’t my writing good enough? Is it because I don’t have a degree? Maybe they really don’t have space? I know my style isn’t conventional. I could have used different pieces. The sedated part is a deep-rooted, reaffirmed, reassured peace that only God can give.

I have been carried by courage-infused words, prayer, and gentle reminders of truth today:

“Just have faith. There is refuge.”

“Be encouraged. God’s plans are much bigger for you.”

“Have more than one cupcake.”

“Don’t let this diminish the talent you have in any way.”

“Maybe you’ve got to realise that there will never be a plan, and that’s OK.”

“All in God’s plan for you.”

“Sometimes we have to see the beauty in the attempt.”

“Not acceptance does not mean failure. It has given you experience, a chance to write and put a portfolio together.”

“Don’t believe their judgement of you is a reflection of what you really are.”

I sit now at the end of the day – 24 hours after I received what I deemed to be the worst news in a long time – and I can confidently say, “I am OK.” Yes, I am sad. I am terribly sad. But I am also secure. I learned today that having purpose is different to having a plan. God gives purpose; we try and make plans. Hard fact: purpose always trumps plans. I learned today that fear can be combatted with faith.

A little while ago I drew a friend’s attention to Psalm 139, and today God embroidered that truth onto my own heart. Verse five says this, “You hem me in behind and before and you lay your hand upon me.” When I am wrapped up in all that God is, everything else can be bursting at the seams and I will still be preserved.