ACFW, Discouragement, Identity

Discouragement: When Lies Impact Our Identity

Waterfall on the Riverwalk in San Antonio

@JeanneTakenaka

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.

Spending time with two writing friends

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.

A lonely bench on the Riverwalk

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.

A few quotes from Frank Peretti and Allen Arnold (I can’t remember who said some of these . . .) that re-oriented me are: 

Meme with the quote: "My foundational identity is as a son or daughter of God who creates with God." (Allen Arnold, Author, Speaker). The words are set on a backdrop of a reflection of buildings and trees in the still waters of a canal.

“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.

A cement stairway leading upward to a pretty hotel, with mosaic tiles on the front sides of the stairs.

“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.

Period.

I need to keep my heart attuned to my unseen God to know validation.

A picture of me with a writing friend.

“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.

The Riverwalk canal with ducks and a bridge and umbrellas on the right

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. 

An arched bridge over still canal waters and its reflection

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?

Click to Tweet: I am a daughter of God who gets to create with Him. And yet, sometimes I wander after lesser things, lesser “identities.”

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

37 thoughts on “Discouragement: When Lies Impact Our Identity”

  1. I’ve been shaken, beaten, bent,
    and taken every slam,
    gone wherever I was sent,
    and I no longer give a damn.
    The world can do its very best
    to burn my heart-space down,
    but I will pass the sternest test
    without a cry or frown.
    I stand upon the flaming ground,
    hard proof against the fire
    that demons light, all around,
    for the devil is a liar.
    He shouts that by him, I’ll be roasted,
    but in real life, I’m merely toasted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew, I love your determination and your perspective. We will face fiery trials. We have the choice of how we face them. Walking with the Lord gives us the strength to navigate the fires at our feet and to see the enemy’s attempts for what they are: lies to turn us/discourage us from following the One who loves us most.

      Praying for you, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful! I know better also, though this is a hole I step into all too often. I am guilty of comparing my insides to other people’s outsides, though I understand that rarely does anyone go around exposing their raw meat.

    Thank you for the reminder that I am first a child of God.

    God bless you!

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    1. Carol, it’s a hole I suspect many of us twist our ankles in from time to time. And you’re right, it’s so easy for us to see our worst and hold them up against others’ best sides. What you said about how almost no one exposes their raw meat made me smile. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  3. THANK YOU for this post, dear Jeanne! It is good to be reminded where our identity is. I am so glad the Lord is patient with me, continues to hone my heart, and bends the gaze of my eyes back on Him. You are so very much appreciated! – I missed you last week 🙂

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  4. Jeanne, thanks for reminding us where our identity and validation truly comes from. It’s way too easy to get derailed along the way by other people and their random opinions and perspectives … and in the process discouragement comes to call.

    I’ve found this especially true in times of sadness or upheaval –> ‘spent time both in quietness and with friends.’

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    1. Linda, it’s easy to forget that God is the One who forms and shapes our identities. He’s the One who gets to declare who we are. There have been so many times I have had to turn my heart back to the truths He’s spoken over me and be reminded of who I am . . . really. So thankful for you, friend!

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  5. Jeanne,
    I remember ALL the rejections I received when writing children’s stories twenty years ago. I was certain that this was what I was meant to do. God closed that door and calmly called me to focus on my roll as a mother instead. Seven years ago, I started writing again, with my blog. It felt good to be back in the saddle, but it wasn’t long before words like “platform” and tallying your social media following infiltrated my writing. Going to conferences that focused on getting published further helped to destroy my confidence. People have told me I should write a book. My answer…”When God tells me specifically what to write and when…I’ll write it.” Until that time, I accept that I am doing “research” by living life and learning about myself as a daughter of God. Maybe I’ll be like Abraham and Sarah and hit my spiritual stride in my 80’s?? There is such an emphasis that you’ve got to accomplish it TODAY or something is wrong with you. You can’t write what you don’t know…and I figure God wants to infuse a little more knowledge before He turns me loose on the world?! It’s so hard not to compare, but I’ve learned what a losing game it is and so I try my best not to go there. I get it though…great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, there is so much truth in your words. I struggle with comparing too. But, the Lord is gracious to open my eyes to the fact that I’m doing it and help me turn my heart back toward Him. I keep thinking about John 21 where Peter has his great talk with Jesus, and then he asks a question about John’s future ministry and death. Jesus sets Peter straight by basically telling him to focus on his own life. I loved what you said about how we can’t write about what we don’t know. Wherever God leads us on our writing journeys, may our eyes be firmly fixed on Him.

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  6. Jeanne, this is a beautiful post in both word and photos. It is good for us to be reminded of where we find our identity. And the lies enter in the slickest of ways, like a chameleon, taking on the color of truth. This is the powerful question I will be thinking on today (and sharing) >>> ““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.” It’s true of writing, and truly any aspiration.

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    1. Joanne, you’re so right. Lies are chameleons, appearing as truth . . . especially when they’re whispered in our own voices. I’ve been pondering that question, too. Thanks for sharing your wisdom today. 🙂

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  7. Jeanne, yet again, so much of what you’ve written resonates with my heart … especially your thoughts about the painfulness of the journey and the way that pain eventually helps us encourage and comfort others. I love the “after” pictures so much better than the “befores.” I want everything to be better, everyone to be fixed, all the details to be finalized. But God … that’s not where and how He works. I’m sorry for your recent discouragement but I’m also grateful God took you to a beautiful place where He showed you some of what He’s doing in your heart. Hugs, friend.

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    1. Lois, thank you for your encouraging words. It’s interesting looking back and seeing through the lens of what God’s shown me. I am like you . . . I want everything to be better and for everyone to be fixed. But God . . . His ways of fixing aren’t always ours, and they’re usually kind of messy. But the work He does is always good for our hearts in the end, isn’t it?

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  8. I love your vulnerability! Thank you for sharing the truths we know but all too often forget ~ Where is our true identity found? I AM GOD’S BELOVED DAUGHTER. WHEN I SUBMIT TO THIS TRUTH MY LIFE CAN GROW AND BE LIGHT TO OTHERS.. THANKS JEANNE FOR BEING A LIGHT in a sometimes bleak space.

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  9. I am so sorry for the deep discouragement, Jeanne. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing it here. I am so comforted by what God spoke to your heart. I so easily fall into that pit of believing the lies. To seek for approval and validation from people. But God… Yes, we have such a patient Father. I often have to remind myself, too, that “I need to keep my heart attuned to my unseen God to know validation.” Thank you for this wonderful encouragement! Love and blessings of strength to you for each moment!

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    1. Trudy, you know I’ve fallen into that same pit, my friend. But God . . . I’m so thankful for His faithful reminders of Whose we are and how much we are loved and valued. Thank you for your words. Love and blessings back to you, sweet friend.

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  10. It’s so easy to fall into comparing ourselves to others or worrying what others think. I often need to remind myself of my true identity too. It makes such a difference when we are secure in the fact that we are God’s children.

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  11. Jeanne, I’ve been in the same place with mistaken identity issues. Forgetting who I am to the great I AM, and how the Creator created me to create along with Him. I love those thoughts, that we are a daughter who gets to create with God! Wow! Amazing. Thanks for sharing what you learned at the conference and the awesome quotes.

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    1. These quotes kind of floored me too, Karen. I love that God created us in His image, even in the creating part of things. When we create with Him, imagine what He can do with it all. 🙂 I’m much better about remembering Whose I am than I used to be, but obviously, I still struggle sometimes. I always appreciate your words.

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  12. If the message is “hide your light under a bowl,” you can bet it’s not coming from God. Thank you for your honesty, Jeanne.

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  13. I’ve been wrestling with identity this week as well. It seems that it only takes one minor thing to shift the truth of who I am to something the enemy wants me to believe. It is disheartening to think I can move that quickly away from the truth. I really like the quote from Allen Arnold but walking our journey first and inviting others into it. Thank you for these thoughts.

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    1. Mary, I’m pretty sure Identity is one of my life themes. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out and that I’m living in the identity God’s given me, I realize there’s another part of my heart He wants to deal with . . .Like you, I’ve been side-swiped by the enemy more than once, when he twisted something in my thoughts and sent me reeling. I guess it’s a constant remembering who (and Whose) we are and coming back to that when we’ve strayed.

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  14. Thank you for your open, honest, and vulnerability Jeanne. It helps me and I am sure others, to know we aren’t alone with our internal struggles to feel good enough and okay. I think we are built for connection and when any connection feels frazzled and uncertain it can hurt and make us wonder about who we are. I can feel very divided as my job is so different from my ‘creative’ life, and can feel like someone else should be doing my job especially knowing a manager would prefer that so I avoid his presence as never feel ‘good enough’ when he’s near. I have a close friend who is friend’s with a gal that I introduced her to. My hope was to expand connections but this gal then turned away from our friendship. Hurt and disappointed, it’s made me more guarded for sure, and protective to avoid disappointments. Which then spills over into my creative life as don’t want more hurt and disappointment! So slowly learning how important it is to be around those ‘balcony people’ who always are there no matter what (even when we mess up), accept us as we are, and encourage us. And I hope I am a balcony person for others. I’m glad this conference came up in God’s perfect timing to lift you up and encourage you!

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    1. Lynn, your thoughts resonated with me. I agree . . . we are created for connection, but we’re all human. Sometimes we mess up the concept or the relationships as we grapple with how to stay healthy. My heart was sad for you as you shared about the lost friendship. It’s such a balance of being open to connection but knowing when we need to proceed with caution. I’m learning there are some people who haven’t “earned the right” to know my intimate issues. So, those connections are more shallow than the ones where I feel safe enough to share my heart. If I know you at all, I know you are a balcony person for others in your life. Thank you for your words and for sharing a piece of your heart, friend.

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