Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When God Hits Pause: L.O.O.K. U.P.

"But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it.” -Shauna Niequeist, from Cold Tangerines

Chances are you're waiting on something in your life at this very moment.

Waiting for your Prince Handsome to come sweep you away to your "diamond sunbursts and marble halls" as my favorite Ann-with-an-ew would say.

Pinching pennies to buy your picket-fence house in the perfect cul-de-sac neighborhood that will fit the perfect quiver of a family you have planned.

Perhaps its that job promotion that was promised, the paycheck that never came, the change in title, position, some other change.

Then there's the writing life. A pleasant diversion when the rest of your world feels dumped upside down and sideways all at once. At least that's what it was...until...

It became another waiting game...

Waiting for the perfect agent for you....the house that is right for you...waiting for that contract that would enable you to quit your 9-to-5 drudgery...

Longing to hear back from the editor who has been holding your proposal since ACFW...to get those contest results back...

Some waits are for a season...and sometimes that season is indefinite. Maybe you are called to take a break from writing altogether as several of us here have done in the past or are doing now.

“Wait on the Lord" is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”  -J.I. Packer from Knowing God

Continue to wait on God...when action is needed, light will come....

How can you continue to wait on God? Here are some things that have helped me in my waiting times:

Waiting leaves us in a good place, with nothing to do but to seek God's face with desperate accord until he wants us to move. Sometimes when we are most "abuzz" with plans and excitement we take far less time to sit at his feet. 

When we're waiting, let's make a point to L.O.O.K. U.P.:

1)Let God search your heart.

What is the specific sin struggle in your heart with regards to waiting? And what might God want to do in you...perhaps it is something you are resisting and he is using a pause to get your attention.

Is it a lack of perseverance? Are you ready to give up because the wait seems too hard?

Is it a lack of trust in God's way? God's timing?

Perhaps you're trusting too much in other people: an agent, an editor, someone to give you positive feedback?

Is it pride, perhaps thinking that your work is better than others you see that are published? Thinking that your own writing will further his kingdom?

Confess all these things before your heavenly Father. He knows your heart.

2) Own your struggle.

We don't need to pretend with God, He knows all. No matter what our "wait" struggle is, come to Him daily asking for His help. You can't do it on your own. If this wait can produce in us further dependence on God then it is a small price to pay. 

3) Order your days.

Sometimes we spend too much time thinking about waiting and it can cause a bit of chaos in our days. Plan for the times when you struggle most with anxiety or overthinking about the waiting. For instance, a time I struggle with worry is bedtime. So I am now trying to play Christian sermons when I can't sleep to feast on the word and fill my mind with these things leaving little room for the anxieties of waiting.

What calms you and can keep your mind orderly during a time of struggle. Playing soft hymns helps me to get my focus on God. Also reciting favorite scripture verses. If you plan something to occupy your time with during the time those worries or bothersome thoughts crop up, you will feel better prepared.

4) Keep accountable.

Let a friend or spouse know that you are struggling to keep faith during the wait. Ask them to pray for and with you. During hard or long waits you may need to lean on them. Though facebook and online are great, I think it is best to have a friend you plan to meet for coffee or a lady you pray with at church. Waiting is a common human experience and maybe you'll find you can also pray for your friend who might be struggling with a wait in another area of her life.

5) Understand that he may be preparing you for another wait.

And no, I'm not telling you you will be published or you will find your dream agent...or be able to quit your job.

I'm talking about a different perspective. The one that truly matters and putting our life in line for that. Because even what's happening in our writing life is something God is using on a spiritual level.

I really think he uses what can be smaller waits to help us with larger waits. Waiting for a terminally ill spouse or parent to die. Waiting to deliver a stillborn months after her death. Waiting for the CAT scan on the brain to show all clear. God wants to teach us to wait in these moments, preparing us for the waits that will be present for our whole lives.

In the same way as Christians we are waiting and panting with longing like the deer for our eternal life:

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.-Romans 8:25

Let God use these times to stir up longing for our heavenly homes.

6)  Prepare and persevere.

What are your struggle points? Look for scriptures that will speak to those and print up the verses. Carry them with you in your purse. Post them next to your writing desk. Post them on your refrigerator. Ruth Graham placed Bibles all around her house so that she could read a verse here, a verse there as a busy mom.

Let God use your wait as a time of preparation for your own heart. Sometimes when we are in the throes of the good life we spend less time sitting at his feet. The perfect balm for your troubled heart is at his feet.

Bible Hub, and Blue Letter Bible are great online sites for finding verses to speak to your need and digging into all sorts of study resources for free. If God has called you to take a break from writing or seeking publication why not use that extra time to dig into his word even more than usual. 

Don't take your eyes off your source of hope. If you get a "no" don't let that discourage you from God's calling. God didn't call you to be published right now perhaps, but He did call you to write. Be obedient in that calling even if your feelings make you want to stop.

Maybe take a break and write something different, but write. Persevere in your calling.

Life and writing contain all sorts of waits. Let's use them as a reminder to L.O.O.K. U.P. and remember our Father is there with us through whatever we are facing today.

Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also enjoys writing for Library Journal magazine and the blog Wonderfully Woven.



Tori said...

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who write for this blog. I have taken a "break" from book writing over the past 2 years b/c of my son's speech disorder, although I was an avid blogger during that time. I used to read Writer's Alley all the time when I was working on my novel and have just recently became a regular follower again. (I am back to book writing!) All of your content is so awesome, educational, and motivational. You girls rock!

Julia M. Reffner said...


Thank you for taking the time to share that you find Writer's Alley encouraging in your journey! We appreciate it!

We are excited to hear you are back into writing. God will bless your obedience to him in focusing on your son!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Tori, thank you so, so much for the encouragement! We are proud of you for getting back into writing and hope it goes seamlessly! Please keep us updated on your journey <3

Tori said...

Laurie, Are you still offering writer consulting services? I filled out a form on your site a couple of weeks back, but never heard anything. I thought maybe it got lost in cyberspace? Anyway, I'd love to learn more about the services you offer. My email address is tstarmom5@yahoo.com. Thanks!

kaybee said...

Julia, this is such an important reminder of why we do what we do. I especially like the part about being trained for "longer waits." Doing this is hard, but we need to put it into perspective. It's not as hard as losing a spouse, a child, a parent, or facing a terminal illness ourselves. It's training, just like anything else in the Christian life on this earth. Oh we need to keep His perspective on everything.
Kathy Bailey

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Tori, I emailed you!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks so much for your sweet words. Sweeter than chocolate.

Mary Vee Writer said...

So true. But keeping things is perspective can be hard to do especially if other extenuating circumstances barge in our path. Good thing we have God and His understanding heart.

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for that sweet note of encouragement, Tori!! It is our goal to bring encouragement, joy, and support to others -whether writers or readers.
Many blessings on your writing journey

(btw, I'm a speech-language pathologist by day ;-) So many blessings to you and your son in your personal journey with him too


Julia M. Reffner said...

Kathy, I love your thoughts on training. Good perspective.

Savanna Kaiser said...

Wonderful post. Just what I needed to hear and be reminded of as I wait for some important emails to show up in my inbox. :) Thanks for the encouraging words!