As you know, I spent some time at a writing conference recently. I’ve been attending St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference for several years and it always, ALWAYS helps me to boost my writing. The creative juices start to flow as I spend countless hours with other creatives. It’s almost as if their creativity rubs off on me and the blissful, beautiful campus of Grove City College stirs a sense of peace and calm that helps me to write.
But not this year.
After I returned home I realized I hadn’t written a darn thing. In fact, I had barely opened my laptop and had only jotted down a few sparse thoughts in a journal. The creative juices I had expected to flow had not come at all. I felt like a failure. Once again I was back home, amidst the normalcy of every day life, where my creative juices often get sucked up by chores.
Monday’s harsh light snapped me back to reality and I took to Facebook to sulk about my woes.
“I sometimes feel inferior to all they (my writing friends) are accomplishing and achieving while I sit here and lament over my lack of work and lack of creative juices. I thought conference would inspire me, but it seems to have only made this inferiority complex worse.”
I put my depression and my feelings of failure out for the world to see. It’s something I’m known to do – a sort of transparency that many tell me is a nice thing to behold. But I wasn’t feeling transparent or like I’d be able to encourage anyone. I was simply sulking. But I was astonished by the response.
“I’m so glad you posted this,” wrote one friend. “I always feel the same at the end of conference.”
Another encouraged me by saying, “You are not alone. … I always have to remind myself, ‘someone else’s success is not our failure.'”
Still others told me about a long list of chores they had to accomplish, laundry that needed to be done, groceries that had to be bought (one friend’s family couldn’t even get bread and milk for themselves!) and kids that needed to be driven places. Many told me they hadn’t written a single thing during conference. It helped me to realize that others were feeling this way. I was not alone, it seemed, but, in fact, in good company.
Then one of my new friends wrote this: “I am so grateful to you for taking me under your wing. You were such an encouragement to me.”
Another, “You reserved time to individually review my jots and tittles, providing good ideas and encouragement.”
And lastly, “I’m glad you weren’t writing during those moments we were chatting. I enjoyed getting to know you.”
What perspective! I had almost forgotten that during this time of not writing, I had been meeting new friends, encouraging others to write, giving advice to new writers, helping new conferees find their way – both literally and figuratively – and simply enjoying the company of others who were like-minded. I didn’t waste one single minute of conference, it just wasn’t what I had expected I’d be doing with my time!
One of my other friends reminded me of this: “It is absolutely impossible to survive the bruises if we compare where we are, EVER, to our friends with whom we’re sharing this journey. … we have to stop thinking of life as some kind of race. It’s not. … the true joy of life that God desperately wants for us can’t be found when we’re racing. We have to SLOW DOWN and cherish now.”
Wow. After reading her comment, I thought back to every minute of conference. I didn’t race. I let every single person who wanted to talk to me, do so. I listened to people’s stories and laughed along at their jokes. I hugged. I prayed. I smiled. I DID cherish it, but simply got caught up in worthless thoughts afterwards.
Does this look like someone who wasted her time to you?
So I wanted to write this post to thank all of those people who made me realize my perspective last Monday wasn’t in keeping with what God’s perspective is for me. I wasn’t recognizing and enjoying the joy He had provided all during conference week. Instead, I was letting the enemy sink his teeth into my thoughts and skew my perspective. But, thankfully, it only took a minute of being honest and transparent on social media for my friends to come to the rescue.
And I thank them.
If you are feeling down, depressed or upset about your shortcomings this week, consider these verses:
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:8-10 NIV)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9 NIV)
If you’re feeling down – ask for help. Tell a friend. Look to the Word for encouragement. I would venture a guess that your negative thoughts are not in keeping with what God has in store for you.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11 NIV)
Look for His message, His perspective and pray for His guidance to help you through.
God bless and Happy Friday!