Attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) National Conference is one of the highlights of my year. But this year, I came into this conference feeling discouraged, because of something, not writing-related, that happened a few weeks ago. The results of that event had absolutely nothing to do with the conference, but everything to do with how I felt someone important to me perceived me.
And the hurtful impressions have colored my perspective since then.
I hate when lies rise up and call me cursed.
I hate when I open myself up to listen to their whispers.
And I hate when said lies impact something I’m looking forward to.
I arrived at the hotel last week and spent time both in quietness and with friends.
I learned so much in the classes I attended. But most of my takeaways aren’t from craft sessions, they’re from classes that dealt with the heart and mindset of publishing/getting published.
And the hardest thing to admit is this: I allowed myself to forget where my identity comes from. I looked for others to speak into my identity, rather than turning to the Lord.
I wanted to be seen, to feel significant (not in a fame-seeking way). But at times I felt invisible.
I allowed lies speak into my identity in a way that negatively impacted my experience and my perceptions.
On the final day, the Lord helped me see how much I compare myself with others . . . and where my thoughts went awry.
This is hard to admit. Because I know better.
The Lord reminded me that I am seen . . . by Him.
I am not invisible.
Even in the letdowns, God shone His light on my wrong thinking. As I listened to wise teachers who have gone before me on this journey, He spoke truths that ministered to my heart.
“My foundational identity is as a son or daughter of God who creates with God.” ~Allen Arnold
I forgot who I was. First and foremost, I am a daughter of God. My identity is not found in what others think about me, or how they view me compared to someone else.
I am a daughter of God who gets to create with Him. How amazing is that?! And yet, sometimes I wander after lesser things, lesser “identities.” This is something God is re-working in me.
“Where do you put your identity as a writer? Where do you get your validation as a writer? Wherever you look for it, that person/thing has the power to invalidate you.”
I’ve heard this truth framed in different terms. But as I navigated this weekend, I realized just how easy it is to seek validation in those I see and am seen by. Whenever I seek validation from people—or from whatever my definition of success is—I will end up stripped and empty.
I need to keep my heart attuned to my unseen God to know validation.
“The best journey our art can invite others into is the costly one we must walk first.” ~Allen Arnold
I imagine I’m not the only one living out this truth. Even in the disappointments, God reminded me the journey we walk in pursuing the calling He gives us will be painful sometimes.
But, that pain will conform us into the image of Jesus. And in that process, God can use us to comfort and encourage others.
To avoid the pain is to avoid both going deeper with the Lord and becoming more able to express Him in our art.
In walking through disappointment—or painful sections of our journeys—we have a choice. Will we let disappointment be the final word?
Or will we choose to go before our Father, regroup, and press forward? Sometimes it feels easier to give up. But that could actually cost us more in the end.
Regardless of what kind of creating we do, we need to be talking over each step with the Lord. If we seek Him, we will be found by Him.
Even in the hard.
Even in the uncertain.
I’m thankful for a patient Father who reminds us of the truths we sometimes forget. Even when we’re discouraged, He meets us and reveals more of Himself . . . if we’ll look for Him.
What about you? What helps you navigate the disappointments on the creative journey or your life journey? What lessons has God been revealing to you lately?