Purpose: When We Don’t Understand

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PURPOSE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

***Confession: I took a couple more minutes than five to write this.***

PURPOSE

Last year, I shared a little bit about how I put my brave on and sent in a manuscript to an agent. I had done my very best to it. Had people read it and give me their insights. I thought it was ready.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

I was beyond discouraged. A small part of me briefly (very briefly) considered ending my writing journey.

What was God’s purpose in helping me put on my brave only to be rejected? 

I had to take some time to work through the discouragement.

The agent didn’t send a blanket “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter. She gave me feedback on how to improve my manuscript.

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Can you say G-I-F-T?

As God helped me work through this, He gave me the opportunity to work with a very godly woman who challenged and stretched me. The first time we talked, I was crying within two minutes because God showed her things she couldn’t have known about me.

He decided it was time to do some healing in my heart.

This purpose could never have been accomplished if my manuscript had been accepted by that agent. God used much of last year to unlock emotions within me that I had pushed down since girlhood.

He used those months and the insights from my mentor to teach me the beauty of trusting Him and close friends with my honest thoughts and feelings. For some people, this is basic stuff.

For me, who was shaped by the lie that certain emotions were not acceptable? And that to gain acceptance (and avoid rejection) I had to only show the acceptable feelings . . . this has been a scary and incredibly freeing journey.

God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard.

Often we don’t understand the fullness of it until after the fact. When we’re in the moment—in the strong emotional season—we can’t always see the work He is doing behind the screen of our life.

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We have to come to a place of being able to view our circumstances through God’s lens.

Then, He might give us a glimpse of His purposes for allowing us to walk through hard times.

Often, those hard seasons bring us to the end of ourselves. They strip us of self-centeredness. And, when we let Him, God sands off a little bit more of us so a little bit more of Him shines through.

What about you? When has God shown His purpose to you? What have you learned during the hard seasons of your life?

Click to Tweet: God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung, where many other wonderful writers also link up. Five Minute Friday—Purpose

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36 thoughts on “Purpose: When We Don’t Understand

  1. You’re fine. I’ve often forgotten to set my timer. As far as emotions go, I like to tell my girls that God gave us both “good” emotions and “bad.” He gave them all to us.

    ((Hugs)),
    Melinda
    (Visiting from FMF)

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    • You’re right, Melinda. God did give us all emotions. We have to decide what we’ll do with them, don’t we? Will we let them rule us, or will we submit them to our wonderful Father. I like the way you present emotions to your daughters. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, friend!

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  2. It’s ok if you went over five minutes! I’m so glad you shared your story. I, too, am feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole finding an agent thing. I suffered through a rejection letter a few weeks ago that told me that even though my story was poignant, I didn’t have a platform. Thus my feelings of ‘bleh’–what is my purpose. We’ll keep running to him and looking at him and making him our purpose. Things will then happen the way HE wants :). Keep being brave!

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    • Thank you, Anita. Finding an agent is challenging, especially when you’re writing NF because platform is so important. It takes time to work through the rejection. It’s pretty big that the agent told you that your story is poignant.

      Yes, we keep running to Jesus, looking to Him, and keeping Him as our top priority. Trusting God’s timing is a good way to stay in His peace on this journey. You keep being brave too, friend!

      I’m saying a prayer for you today.

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  3. Great post, Jeanne! I see plenty of purpose; right here, where faith and grace hold hands. Your plainspoken and forthright Christianity is such a rare and precious gift to all of us!

    I’ve realized that absent all I hoped to accomplish in life, my purpose was always really to support, lift up, and encourage. The last and greatest challenge and privilege in this life.

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    • Thank you, Andrew. You are a great encourager. It’s good to discover our purpose and live it out, isn’t it? And you’re doing this so well. I’m praying for you, friend.

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  4. Truly, what a gift! And a reminder that God’s purpose is so much deeper than what we see at first glance…. I’m glad you kept at this whole writing thing, that you kept God’s heart for you in mind.

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  5. What helps me to is to think of the journey as the end itself, not the the ‘acceptance’ or I guess anything I would be seeking outside God. I just thought of that now! Your story prompted that thought. Thanks J. God is doing great things with you and through you.

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    • Lynn, what a thought. The journey is the end itself. The ends to drawing us closer to Him. And yes, anything we seek that’s outside of God is not going to accomplish all He wants to do in us. Love your thought!

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  6. So beautiful to hear how God pursued your heart in such a gentle and personal way, Jeanne. I was just reading this in Tozer’s Delighting in God and what you shared illustrates what he says so beautifully: “If you have no will, you have no purpose. The beautiful thing is that God unites our will with His will and our will becomes strong; and His will merges us with God so that we hardly know if it is our will or God’s will that is working at any given moment.” He’s uniting your will with His through the mentor He has placed at your side, strengthening your purpose in the process.

    I also read this Scripture with new eyes and your story connects with it too:

    John 20

    16“Mary!” Jesus said.

    She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

    17“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

    I think we all cling to what we see before us, the Jesus we know now from our current experiences, but God calls us to receive what He has promised us in His Word but cannot yet see, and to go share that with others: that our and their perception of who God is may grow.

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    • Anna, I love when God gives us different messages that resonate with a similar theme. And, I LOVE what you shared about how we tend to cling to what we see before us. How much more does it take to receive that which we cannot yet see from Him. Just a little bit of faith, right? That decision that we are going to trust Him and believe He keeps His promises. Yes, He does want us to share Him with others. Thank you for sharing your beautiful truth here today.

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  7. So encouraging to read your words today, Jeanne, seriously good. And we get to the end of ourselves, and that’s where He gets to completely have His own way in us… need to remember this, lol. Thankful for you today, friend!

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    • Thank you, Christine! It usually takes us getting to the end of ourselves before we ready to let God have His complete way in us, doesn’t it? Why are we like that? Thank you for stopping by!

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing how that rejection, which you didn’t understand at the time, had a greater purpose. Rejection’s hard, though. I send a lot of poems and stories to journals and get rejected 99% of the time. I sent a story to a journal I like a lot; the editor said they liked it but it needed some revising in certain ways; I revised it carefully and resubmitted it … and they rejected it a second time. I’m not quite sure what the purpose was in that instance, but I do think rejection is a normal part of the writer’s life. BUT rejection and any other hard experiences are really tough at the time, and it’s not only OK, but really good, to acknowledge our disappointment and pain in the moment. Then healing can come.

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    • Jeannie, you’re right. So much of the writing journey involves rejection. Sometimes we get a hopeful answer, and other times we get the form letter. But, I’m learning how to give it all to God, to be teachable, and to remember He knows where my words need to be. The question is, will I trust Him? When we can look at rejection as an opportunity to grow and improve our skills, it can be a gift. I’ll be honest, this has never been my initial response, but I’m learning to learn from those rejections. And yes, it is good to acknowledge our disappointments and the pain. Just not to stay there. 🙂 I so appreciate your wisdom here. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. jeanne, great post! writing is definitely not something to do if you want to continue living life as you have always done it, is it? it messes with your head and heart for sure! and that is a mercy.
    i’m glad you are getting an agent and will be writing. sounds like you have a great mentor:) one book that stretched me in terms of my thinking on emotions was by Dan Allender (whatever I read by him stretches me!) This is one of quite a few books that he and Tremper Longman wrote together. it is called THE CRY OF THE SOUL. it talks about some of the supposedly negative emotions we struggle with as they relate to GOD. what he wrote re jealousy and anger were very helpful and often come to my mind!

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    • Hey Martha, yes, writing definitely challenges us—head and heart. I wouldn’t trade it, even though it’s a harder journey. I’ve learned so much about God walking this road.

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dan Allender’s books. I’ll take a look at that one.

      I’m glad to be walking this writing road with you, Martha!

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  10. Jeanne, “sanding” is such a great image for what happens to us. When I think of sanding, I think of scraping away the surface to make it new. As I shared the other night, my experiences with my daughter’s Bipolar placed me right under the sander. My purpose at the time seemed dismal-my days were filled with emotional roller coasters, needy siblings, lack of energy for my spouse and friends. Yes, I was caring for my daughter but judgements in parenting even made that hard. However, coming out on the other side, I see how they contributed to my purpose now. I am passionate about families in similar situations. God has opened doors to use my writing and speaking skills to minister to others. Having experienced deep rejection in the past, I learned to cling to my Creator.
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths.” (prov. 3:4-5) Truly. And they will be better than you could have imagined.

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    • Stephanie, I can only imagine the challenges you face raising a daughter with bi-polar. I can only imagine how draining it must be with you being pulled in so many directions. And to have people on the outside judging when they can’t see what’s going on on the inside of your family dynamics. That’s a heavy burden to bear. It’s true that we can grow under that kind of pressure, or we can shrivel.

      It seems like you have truly grown with all that God has given you. He has given you opportunities to help others, and that’s pretty special. Clinging to our Creator is the best way to get through the hard, disappointing seasons in life.

      I love Prov 3:5-6. Thank you for sharing here today!

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  11. I often go over 5 minutes! Even though I’ve never submitted anything for formal publishing, I have self-published and faced so much fear even with that. I am so thankful that even through our hard seasons, God still has a purpose. I’m #12 this week.

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    • Thanks for the grace, Barbie. 🙂 I try to be “good” and stick to the 5 minutes. Most of the time, I succeed. 😉

      I think there’s fear in every facet of the writing journey. Sometimes, it’s being willing to trust God and take the next step, whether or not we feel confident, right? Yes, God always has a purpose.

      I so appreciate you stopping by!

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  12. Jeanne, I see myself so often in your words. I get a lot of “a-ha” moments from your walk.
    Although I know rejection isn’t easy, I am glad that God has allowed me to go through my own. I have found myself to rely on Jesus all the more and like you I have allowed myself to open up emotionally when that has not been my style. I am definitely one who would rather put on a brave face and resolve rather than show the cracks. God’s encouraged me now as I have allowed my pain out.

    Thank you for sharing another beautiful post. You are such a gifted writer.

    Dropping by from FMF (#75 doubt I’ll ever post higher but let’s hope).

    God bless you

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    • Kelly, your words are such an encouragement. I like how you can see the gifts that can come from walking through rejection. It never, ever feels good, but when we can pluck the gems from the midst of the disappointment, we will grow stronger and deeper in our walk with the Lord, right?

      Putting on the brave face seems easier in one way. But it’s a whole lot emptier too. I’m glad we’re both learning how to be authentic in how we live our days. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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