Faith, Trusting God

Mantra: What Guides You?

Meme that says "Mantra" on a backdrop of a pond

@JeanneTakenaka

Last month, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both challenging and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life. 

As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I wanted to share some of those posts with you all, and I’d love your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.

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I know. This word kind of sounds hoo-doo, voo-doo. When I first saw this word as part of the writing challenge, I cringed. The images that came to mind were of monks on their knees, incense puffing through the air as they chanted the same thing over and over again.

But, as I considered this word—mantra—I realized I have a mantra that guides my choices in real life and writing life. 

a stream moving and reflecting blue sky with mountains in the background

And it’s this: God’s timing is always perfect. 

In real life, when Hubs and I prayed for, begged for, cried for children, God said, “Not yet.” 

He used those empty years to teach me about what real faith and real love—His love—looked like. We grappled with our differing ideas of how we should become parents. And God revealed things in each of our hearts that He needed to heal.

At the right time, our hearts were united—and God’s timing was perfect—and He added two boys to our family. 

A still pond reflecting sunrise colors and the neighborhood behind it

When the Lord placed a story on my heart, I naively thought I’d have it written and I’d have representation within the year. Yes, I was a wee bit optimistic. But, I had a plan. 

God’s plan followed a different timeline than mine. Sometimes, I’ve chafed at His guiding me in a different direction than I wanted to travel.

And in the years since I typed that first story, He’s taught me more about depending on Him . . .

. . . finding my value in who He says I am, 

. . . and just how difficult it is to craft an engaging story that uplifts and entertains.

Even when others have received book contracts and I haven’t come near that place in my journey, His timing is perfect. 

A stream flowing over a sharp , shallow bank of rock with a grassy shoreline

I’ve committed each step of this writing journey into His hands. So, when I’m stuck on a story element or I know the story is still missing something, I turn to God for His guidance. When disappointment accompanies my every step, I have to believe my days—my heart—are in His hands. He’s still guiding me on the best path. And, I’ve come to embrace the truth that God’s timing is perfect. 

The thing is: I’ve had a lot of real-life stuff going on. God knew this wasn’t the season for me to move into having a publishing contract. He knew I needed to be fully present with my family. Having a contract or a hard deadline during this season would have added serious stress to our family dynamic. 

A still mountain stream with tree shadows crossing it

There are times when Facebook tells me another friend has a book contract, or is moving forward in their journey to publication. I won’t lie, sometimes “when is it my turn?” rattles around in my thoughts. But God reminds me He holds me in the palm of His hand, that He wants me to keep my eyes on Him, not on what others are doing or achieving. 

Discontent tends to lead to envy . . . which never leads anywhere good. The Lord has reminded me that when my heart craves what others have, I’m not walking in the center of His will. Ultimately, that is where I want to be, even when I don’t understand His timing. 

Meme-words: God is gently faithful to remind us that each person's journey is unique, designed by Hi for His purposes, with a picture backdrop of the sun coming up on a walking path

The truth is, I sometimes wander from my mantra. God is gently faithful to remind me that each person’s journey is unique, designed by Him for His purposes. Each person faces individual struggles. Each person must come to terms with the differences between their plans and God’s plans for them. 

Which continually brings me back to: His timing is always perfect.

Dewy grass with a path leading toward the just rising sun between bare trees

And His plans for me are good. Because that is how He is. I choose to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and my heart yielded to Him, because His timing is always perfect.

My challenge to you is this: Consider what “mantra” guides your decisions, your perspectives. Is it leading you to where God wants you to be?

What about you? What is the “mantra” you live life by? What is God teaching you in your current season?

Click to tweet: God reminds us that each person’s journey is unique

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory

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34 thoughts on “Mantra: What Guides You?”

  1. Beautiful post, and the pictures go perfectly with the atmosphere.

    I have a mantra. It ain’t pretty.

    I wonder if God is feeling sad,
    but His words to me are curt,
    “Boy, you thought today was bad,
    but tomorrow’s gonna HURT.”
    This cancer gig is hard to take,
    and the pain is not the worst.
    There’s a feeling I can’t shake
    that maybe I am cursed.
    But no, I don’t think that’s right,
    look what happened to God’s own boy!
    I’m just His dog in this chosen fight,
    so I may as well…enjoy.
    Thus, this is what I live by, and it isn’t very clever:
    “Yeah, the good die young, but badass lives forever.”

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  2. I love this truth about God. He always knows, and His timing is perfect in ways we can’t even imagine. Sometimes it’s easy to see as it’s happening. Other times it’s easier to assess in the rearview mirror. Sometimes it’s not about us, but about how our timing works in the bigger picture. And sometimes, we don’t actually see it, but He does and we can trust that.

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    1. You’ve shared great insights here, Rebecca. I rarely see all the facets of God’s workings in and through my life. I’m truly grateful He sees everything, and that He knows all that He’s doing, even when we can’t see beyond this moment.

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  3. Jeanne,
    Good question to ponder…I believe that my “mantra” or guiding principle is: Through all the joy and all the suffering, God is ALWAYS good, ALWAYS faithful, NEVER forsaking, ALWAYS redeeming. Through the years, I have built many Ebenezers to His faithfulness. His faithfulness in the past gives me hope for the future…come what may.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Ohh, Bev. I like your mantra. There’s so much truth in it! And I agree. His past faithfulness is a continual reminder that He is still faithful today. The fact He doesn’t change gives me the reassurance to trust the Lord in the present because I’ve seen Him work in the past.

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  4. I loved this post and reading your thoughts on mantras. As a runner, I am familiar with the term and have used mantras often to get me past a difficult period in a race. My running mantras change, depending on the need. I repeat things like “You got this” or “Light on my feet”. My life mantra would be different. I have 2 that I tell myself often “I am responsible for my own happiness” and “Not as the world gives do I give to you”.

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  5. Trusting in God is my goal each day. Right now, I am in a season of waiting for health issues to improve. Through pain and dizziness, I remember He is with me. He is holding me in His loving arms.

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    1. Awww, Melissa. I’m sorry you’re dealing with pain and dizziness. One of those would be tough. But to be dealing with both at the same time? I’m sorry. I’m praying for you today. And there is something comforting in remembering that God is with us and holding us in His loving arms, isn’t there? Thanks for sharing here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm…gotta give this question some thought, but as I’ve been growing into my blogging ministry, more and more I find myself coming back to the name of the blog and the Annie Dillard quote that inspired it: “The way we live our days will be, of course, the way we live our life.”
    And I’m discovering the truth of it.

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  7. I sometimes have wondered how you get so much done! Comparison sure isn’t something that draws me toward God, although I blast myself with it on a daily basis. To run my own race and to press on toward the goal for my identity and success to be fully God-centred I’d say is my mantra. Thanks for sharing your story of God’s ‘waits’ on your life. I hear ‘no’ to marrying again which saddens me a bit, and currently learning to not start something so when I start my second job this month to help pay the bills, I won’t get too overwhelmed. I’ve had to drop social media, writing, and photography ‘goals’ to allow time for taking care and continuing certain activities like the small group that wants to gather in my home during the summer, and being with grandchildren to help out their full-time working parents. Didn’t mean this comment to be so long! Yet, sense you get where I’m at and appreciate that!

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    1. Lynn, we have so many choices, don’t we? It sounds like you are choosing “best” over “good.” Best is IRL community, even when it’s inconvenient. I know about setting goals aside…it’s not easy, but God always knows the why’s behind His “asks,” doesn’t He? I’m saying prayers for you during your very busy season, friend.

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  8. What came to my mind with the word “mantra” was “life verse” same difference, Right? I love your thought on God’s timing is always perfect. Yes we all have a different path, and honestly none is harder or easier than the other, they are individual just as each of us are different and individual. Many Thanks 8)

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    1. I like that definition of “mantra,” Debra Jean. Yes, for believers, I would definitely say God’s word/life verses provide good guidance for our decisions. And you’re right. Each person’s path is their path…not harder or easier than anyone else’s. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here!

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  9. I think your mantra is the one I need to adopt right now! It is hard to trust God’s timing when it is not the same as ours but he does know best! I was praying about a situation yesterday when God brought to mind the words that Jesus said to Peter at the Last Supper: “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” (John 13:7) It is encouraging to know that one day we will understand what God was doing and the reason for the wait.

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  10. I’m sorry for the delays and disappointments in publishing your book, Jeanne, but I’m glad you can look back and see the value of God’s timeline and how He knew your boys would need you to be fully present. Did you know that Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected by 27 publishers before it got published? Hang in there! But know that your writing here is often used by God to encourage and inspire me, and I’m sure many others. 🙂 I love this truth – “God is gently faithful to remind me that each person’s journey is unique, designed by Him for His purposes.” Thank you. And thank your for the photos that breathe comfort into my soul. I imagined myself sitting on that big rock in the middle of the stream and dangling my bare feet in the water as I soaked in the beauty of God’s creation. 🙂 Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Trudy, thank you for your kind words. I am thankful God knows the plans He has for me, even when I can’t see beyond the step I’m on. I did not know Dr. Seuss’ book was rejected 27 times before being published. And your words bless me. I pray what gets posted on my blog will encourage others. You bless me, sweet friend. Sending you love and blessings back!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Enjoyed these reflections on mantra…and how you related having kids to God’s timing. And I’ve had the same thoughts as you about the publishing journey. Yet, God continues to remind me over and over how His timing really is perfect, His plan for me for my good and His glory.

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  12. This definitely resonated with me. I’m STILL waiting on my fiction to be published, though I’ve been published for journalism and nonfiction for decades), and I know God’s timing is perfect. I trust that He has a plan. I, too, waited on children, and again—the timing was perfect. He knows all, and I just need to trust in Him. Thanks for this, Jeanne!

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    1. Jessica, God’s timing is always perfect, especially when it comes to those desires planted deeply in our hearts. We have to hold them out to Him with an open hand, don’t we? I’ll be praying for you as you seek publication for your novel. So thankful to be walking this journey with you!

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  13. Like you…I would be certain that mantra would not apply to me – but if it serves to direct me and keep me focused – well, I’m all for that. I so easily lose sight of things like “God’s timing is not mine but is perfect” and “His plans for me are always best.” A timely reminder for me this evening!

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    1. I like your thoughts about how a life verse or a truth about God can direct us and keep us focused on Him. I am thankful God used these words to remind you of His truths. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  14. I am struggling with the very same thing you have written about; I want to be further along in my writing career, but God is teaching me to trust Him, to be faithful in the next thing and wait on Him for the next step. Not always easy. Others, who are further along, inspire me, but I can also get down on myself, thinking I’m not where I should be. Trusting God is my ‘mantra’ – leaning on His wisdom and less on my understanding. I feel like I’m in the stage of perfecting the writing craft, the next step of pubishing will come.

    Thank you for your encouraging post, Jeanne.

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    1. Marcie, I suspect most—if not all—writers grapple with God’s timing. This writing journey has, for me, also been one of learning to trust Him. I like what you shared about being faithful in doing the next thing. For me, remembering that I am right where God wants me to be helps me to watch those expectations I tend to put on myself. It sounds like we deal with some of the same struggles, Marcie. I’ll be praying for you as we navigate this journey. Thanks so much for being vulnerable here and sharing a piece of your story.

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  15. I confess to struggling with the use of the word “mantra” – enough so that I looked up the accepted definitions. The first definition is a repeated sound or word that aids in concentration and is directly related to Hinduism and Buddhism. The second is merely a statement or slogan that is oft repeated.
    While I love what you’re communicating, I’m still reluctant to label it a mantra (in accordance with those 2 definitions). So I agree with what you’ve said, just not what you labeled it!

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    1. Ava, had it not been for the writing challenge, I would never have used this word. But, thinking on it an what message God uses to keep me close to Him has challenged me to think about the messages I’m believing. I don’t know if that makes sense. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

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  16. I absolutely love this post. It reminds me anew of my purpose and personal mission statement.
    “Encourage others (and myself) to recognize God’s love and constant presence”
    I think my mantra (that which I say all the time) is, “stay buckled, we’re not there yet!”
    🙂 Thank you for always showing us how to stay focused on what matters most, namely the Lord!!!!!
    “Stay buckled, dearest Jeanne!”

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