Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Keeping a sweet spirit from the sidelines

Some of you went to ACFW and had successful agent and editor appointments, requests for material, and positive feedback on your work.

Others of you attended, but felt that your meetings did not go well. Perhaps you bungled your pitch; maybe the agent wasn’t interested in what you had to offer, or the editor felt your genre was already over-represented at their house. Whatever the case, you came away deflated and feeling the sting of failure.

Still others weren’t able to attend at all. You watched from the sidelines as your friends went and returned, glowing with their successes and accomplishments. Your role has been a cheerleader, and although you’re glad to celebrate with your friends, a deep-down part of you wonders when it will be your turn., image by photostock

For those who fall into the last two categories, this post is for you. How do you keep a sweet spirit when it seems as if everyone is being promoted around you and you’ve been left far behind?

Here are some ideas.

1. Pray a blessing over those who are doing well.
Bless them? Aren’t they the last people in need of your prayers?! They’re already being blessed!

Perhaps, but this exercise has more to do with the state of your spirit than the state of the person you’re praying for.

Praying a blessing over someone else in their time of success is the best way to do spiritual warfare against jealousy. (click to tweet.) The enemy wants you to feel jealous; to compare yourself and feel like you come up short. When you turn this on its head and pray for God to heap blessing on the person you envy, Satan’s attack on your heart loses its power.

So pray, even if – especially if – you don’t feel like it. Pray for those God has blessed, for even more abundance, for favour, for new and better opportunities, for success overflowing.

The more you exercise this sort of spiritual warfare against resistance, the more God will transform your heart, bringing it into line with the words you’re praying, until you forget about yourself and genuinely desire the success of others.

2. Focus on the kingdom picture, not the glory of self.
We say our motivation in writing is to bring glory to God, but nothing tests this assertion like moments when there is no glory for self to be found. (click to tweet.)

Is your heart for God’s kingdom to grow? Meditate on this. Spend time in the word, reminding yourself daily of the bigger picture at stake. All our accomplishments will one day pass away, but God’s kingdom will last forever.

When our heart is in tune with God’s heart, our focus naturally shifts away from ourselves and toward kingdom values. Competition is replaced with teamwork. We’re all working for a common goal, so the success of another is your success, too.

Praise God for any way in which his word goes forth, whether it’s carried by you or someone else. The important thing is God glorified., image by Sura Nualpradid

3. Rest in God’s good plan for your life
Striving ties us up in knots and brings dissatisfaction.

It says, “I don’t trust God to work this out, so I must make it happen on my own.”

And when you can’t make it happen, or things don’t go the way you hoped, you feel depressed and lose your confidence.

Hebrews 10:35 says: “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (NLT)

This type of confidence doesn’t depend on attending a writer’s conference or having agents and editors request your work.

It’s a confidence rooted in your deep soul-knowledge that God loves you, that he wants his best for you, that he has ordered your steps from before you were born and is daily working out his purposes in your life.

Don’t throw that away to lean on your own striving.

Confident trust brings peace and rest and joy in the journey, no matter what the outward circumstances look like.

Be blessed, take heart and take joy! God has you in the palm of his hand.

 Did ACFW leave you elated or deflated? What is God speaking to you through this experience?

How to keep a sweet spirit from the sidelines of the writing life: Click to Tweet

Celebrate the success of others without jealousy or comparison - here's how: Click to Tweet

Karen Schravemade lives in Australia. When she's not chasing after her three preschool-age kids, she spends her spare minutes daydreaming about the intricate lives of characters who don't actually exist. Find her on her website and Twitter.


Debra E. Marvin said...

I definitely came away excited about what was ahead. I think we put so much emphasis on things like 'the perfect pitch' and meeting editors and agents face to face that it's sure to be disheartening when things feel flat.

I heard of one attendee's encounter with someone who was blatantly rude to them and clearly not enjoying herself like my friend was. We have to assume something didn't go well but it's hard to see how anyone could sit through Robin Jones Gunn's talks and not feel blessed and optimistic.

So many people publish without ever going to conference, or ... despite a crummy pitch.

Often super stories don't get published for the reasons you mentioned - a pub house has an author writing in your genre or time period. It has nothing to do with YOUR writing. Tough stuff!

And God always finds ways to bless us... if not now, later. I hope someone reads this today that really needs the encouragement. It's just lovely. Thanks Karen!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Debra, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Yes, there's such an emotional build-up toward a conference - what with the expectations we place on ourselves, the pressure of laying down finances to attend, and all the excitement/ adrenalin thrown in. But like you say, one conference experience won't make or break our career. I love your viewpoint and attitude here!

Joanne Sher said...

What an excellent post, Karen. I wasn't at conference, but I wasn't supposed to be. Love this advice - whether it's for conference, writing, or ANYTHING. Love your line about praying blessings being a great line of defense against jealousy. Gonna go tweet that thing ;)

Unknown said...

Wonderful post, Karen...SO wonderful. I had a really good conference BUT I am in the middle of a tense couple weeks right now as I race toward a deadline with not much free time and a whole lot of exhaustion nipping at my heels. So that last one about resting in God's good plan...hit me right where I needed it today. This writing journey is not about how much I can get done and by when...but about God transforming me and working out his good plan in my life. I love that...just love it!

Jessica R. Patch said...

Karen, this post is so wonderful. I had a good conference, but like Melissa, I am resting in God's good plan. In fact, I need to post this on a sticky to remind myself when I feel a tad unsettled.

Rest In God's Plan.

HeatherCRaglin said...

Such a timely post. I wasn't at the conference but this post rings true anyway, especially #3 for me. I'm experiencing a lot of upheaval in my life right now and I have to remind myself daily that God has a plan for me and it will happen in its time...not on my schedule.

Jennifer K. Hale said...

Love this post, Karen! I'm in the cheerleader category this time. I wasn't able to attend this year and my heart was aching, but I am praying blessings over all of those who had a great conference! Thanks for the reminder that we are all in this together and our focus should be on glorifying HIM. :)

Unknown said...

I think you just read from my journal. ;) No, seriously these are right-on-time reminders of things God's already working on and refining in my heart. Thanks for the added encouragement.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Loved this post, Karen. Just loved it. I especially liked the line: "When our heart is in tune with God’s heart, our focus naturally shifts away from ourselves and toward kingdom values. "

My conference experience held ups and downs, and much of the downs came because I went inward rather than upward, focusing on God. He re-aligned my perspective and my conference ended on an up note. I am reminded that God's timing is always perfect. I hold onto His faithfulness in my life, in all areas, not just writing. :) Thanks for sharing these inspired words today!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Karen,

My conference experience was wonderful in the personal aspect, but rather terrible in the pitches aspect. But for some reason it didn't bother me a bit! I just know things are happening in God's timing.

Meanwhile I was greatly inspired by all the wonderful speakers and presenters there!


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

JOANNE, thank you!! Yes, this applies to so many areas of life. Thanks for sharing!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

MELISSA, so glad this resonated with you. Praying you find rest and peace even as you race for that deadline. You can do it!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

JESSICA, I think I need that on a sticky too. :) So easy to forget but so valuable to remember.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

HEATHER, sorry to hear about the upheaval you've been going through. Praying that He will be the eye of the storm for you - that you can find rest in him even while uncertainty swirls around you. Thanks for commenting!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

JENNIFER, we make great cheerleaders! :) We're in a unique season with little ones right now, and I know that feeling of being on the sidelines more often than not. It can be hard, but I wouldn't exchange what God's been teaching me for anything. I know your time will come, and it will be worth all the waiting! Love you, girl!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

CRYSTAL, so glad this resonated with you. I love how God confirms what he's been teaching us!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

JEANNE, thanks for your encouragement! I love what you have to say about inward-looking vs upward-looking. I know I have to keep a constant check on my perspective, as inward looking comes naturally but upward looking has to be practiced daily. So glad your conference ended on a positive note!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

SUSAN, your perspective is so wonderful! Glad you were able to look past a pitch that didn't go as well as you hoped and see the bigger picture and all the other blessings God was sending your way.