What do you do when your ship pulls up anchor and sails off without you? How do you respond when the “powers that be” toss your hopes and dreams overboard and tell you to “go home?” Where do you turn when someone whose opinion matters, denies you passage on the boat you were meant to board?

The answers to those questions can change everything. You need to decide right now – before it happens.

For over a year, my husband and I had planned a trip to Italy, Greece and Turkey with six of our closest friends. We had plotted our course, prepared our travel and saved our pennies. When the day finally arrived, we flew to Rome to spend three days, before setting sail to Greece.

On the night before boarding the ship, I celebrated by eating some local fish that was a little too fishy. In the wee hours of the morning my body commenced rejecting the contents of my digestive system in every unpleasant way possible. I’d experienced this before. I knew what it was. Food poisoning.

Being a good trouper, I crawled into the taxi with our band of explorers, closed my eyes, and proceeded to the ship terminal for the next leg of our journey. We arrived at the dock and joined the throng of other vacationers being herded through the roped check-in lanes. One of the attendants handed me a short form to complete for admittance. And there it was. The question.

“Have you experienced vomiting in the past 48 hours?”

I looked at the paper.

I looked at my carefree expectant friends.

I looked at the beckoning ship.

I looked at my wary husband – questioning without a word.

I took a deep breath.

I told the truth. I checked “yes.”

I handed my boarding papers to the customer service representative, who took one look at the checked “yes” box, and spoke through a forced smile. “Can you please step aside?” she asked. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

A few minutes later, the ship nurse appeared, took my temperature and asked me to please move to another area of the terminal. I explained to her about the fishy fish, the food poisoning and the dehydration that caused my temperature to be elevated one degree. I explained that I had experienced food-poisoning before and knew without a shadow of a doubt that was what I had. She just nodded, took a few notes and then disappeared into the ship’s belly.

After 20 minutes or so, she returned with an official document.  “I’m sorry, ma’am,” she began, “you cannot board this ship. You have been denied passage. You are not fit to sail. We cannot take the risk that you will infect the other passengers. You need to go home.”

Let that sink in for just a moment. You are not “fit to sail.”  You have been “denied passage.” You need to “go home.”

Steve and I were crushed as our broken-hearted friends walked across the gangplank, disappeared onto the ship and sailed away without us.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Maybe not being denied passage on the trip of a lifetime, but perhaps you’ve been rejected by a prospective employer, university or a publisher. Perhaps you’ve felt the gut-retching disappointment of disqualification.

Perhaps you have polished your proposal, meticulously crafted your words and arduously created your platform. You’ve prepared, planned and prayed. You can almost reach out and touch your ship, almost taste the salty air of success, almost feel the gentle sway of passage.

But then, there’s a chance something could go wrong. Someone whose opinion matters might show up and declare that you are not “fit to sail.” They could possibly deny you passage on the ship you know was meant for you, and tell you to “go home.” What would you do?

Sit right there in the terminal with me for a moment longer, and let me tell you what we chose to do with the wall of rejection blocking our hopes and dreams.

Nicoletta was one of the local Italian gals the cruise line had hired to help on check-in day. She sat with me, tried to console me as best she could. Then she came up with a crazy idea.

“I know this would be a lot of trouble,” she began. “I know this would be risky and costly. But what you could do is take the one-and-a-half-hour cab ride back to Rome, check in a hotel by the airport and book a flight from Rome to Reggio Calabria for tomorrow morning. Once in Reggio, take a bus from the airport to the seaport terminal and then a ferry from the seaport terminal to the island of Messina where the ship will be docked.

When you get to Messina, find a local doctor who will examine you. If the doctor declares you are healthy, and writes you a certificate saying you are “fit to sail,” you can take that back to the ship’s doctor. Perhaps then he will allow you to board. But you have to do all that before 4:00 pm tomorrow when the ship will leave Messina and set sail for Greece.”

That was the craziest thing we’d ever heard! Who would do such a thing? We would.

We took a cab back to Rome, a flight to Reggio Calabria, a bus to the Reggio seaport and a ferry to the Island of Messina. Once there, we met up with Nicoletta’s friend, Lucia, who took us to her personal doctor who spoke no English. The doctor poked, prodded and prepared a report that declared me healthy and “fit to sail.”

Steve and I scurried back to the cruise ship waving the official “fit to sail” document like the victory flag it was. The attendant gave to it to the ship doctor, who then allowed us to board just before the ship’s horn announced it was leaving the dock.

Did that story make you tired? It makes me tired just thinking about it. But here’s what you need to know. At some point in your life, someone whose opinion matters might tell you that you are not “fit to sail.”  Someone may deny you passage on the ship that you know was meant for you. They may tell you:

Your idea is not practical enough.

Your credentials are not impressive enough.

Your talent is not polished enough.

Your writing is not creative enough.

You might even stand on the dock of your precisely prepared hopes and dreams and watch as your friends get on the ship without you.

And if that happens, you will have a choice. You can give up and go home. Or you can do what you need to do to get on board. You can take a cab, take a plane, take a bus, take a ferry and do whatever you need to do to get on the ship God has sitting in the dock for you.

Pressing on might seem a bit crazy. Persevering may bring unplanned expenses. Pushing forward could try your stamina beyond what you thought possible to endure. But the alternative is to go home and cozy up with the remote while others sail away without you.

I don’t know what your ship is today. Perhaps it is getting published. Perhaps it is starting a business. Perhaps it is starting a ministry. Perhaps it is hosting a blog.  But chances are somewhere along the way, someone whose opinion matters, will tell you to “go home” – that you’re “not fit to sail.” And you’ll have to decide.

I often hear people say, “I’m waiting for my ship to come in.” I haven’t known anyone whose “ship has come in.” But I have known a lot of people who have worked very hard to get on the ship that God has prepared for them. And I’ve know a lot of people who’ve watched their ship sail away because they gave up too soon, because the work was too hard, or because they settled for being a victim of someone’s opinion rather than a victor who pressed on.

Pressing on in the shadow of rejection is hard. Going home is easier.  But it is those who persist in the shadow of disappointment that experience the sweetness of success.


Is there something in your life that you have given up on? Is God nudging you to try again? If you feel like this post was for you, I’d love to hear from you. Just shoot me an email at [email protected] , and say, “The article on The Wall of Rejection was for me!”

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