Nashville bridge at sunrise

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

There’s something special about gathering with a big group of people who share a common dream. Attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) national conference in Nashville this year was such a refreshing, uplifting experience (just don’t ask how much sleep I got).

Talking writing with others who “get me,”

who understand the joys of a story coming together,

the uncertainties of where our dreams might be leading us,

the disappointments of a “No” when we pitch our book ideas . . .

there’s a sort of reassurance in this community.

ACFW 2016 friends collage copy

This year, I didn’t prepare a pitch for my story. I didn’t set up appointments with agents and editors to try to excite them about what I’ve written.

There was a sort of freedom in this.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched friends move ahead of me. They’ve been offered representation. Contracts for books.

They’re moving on to a different phase of their journeys.

Nashville hats

And I’m still here.

Unagented.

Three stories written but not contracted.

I know myself.

A month ago, I asked a few friends to pray for me. It’s far too easy to see myself as “less than,” as the undesired one.

It’s far too easy to allow the lies and wounds of my past raise their ugly voices and spew their poison into my thoughts.

For those messages to cling fast to Jesus’s truths and rip His peace from my heart.

Nashville downtown

I knew it could be difficult to attend the conference and watch friends get great feedback on their efforts.

It would be oh, so effortless to compare where I am and where they are on this journey called writing.

The truth is, I am where God wants me to be right now. I am in a place of learning to trust Him before I take further steps.

Truth is, He knows my path so much better than I do. I see only this moment. He sees the first day I pressed fingertips to keyboard, imprinting the beginning words of my first story on the screen. He saw me at this year’s conference.

And, He knows where I’ll be five years from now.

Nashville bridge at night

I can accept the pace God has me walking out this journey. Or, I can strive to move forward faster. Or perhaps to move in a different direction than the one He knows is best for me.

To opt for the first keeps me in a place of rest.

To choose the latter leaves me shredded, weary from working in my own strength, and with eyes on others rather than on Jesus.

Truth is, God has encircled me with an amazing group of people who are at all phases of this writing journey. And, I am in the unique place of blessing. A part of a beautiful community.

We encourage each other. Pray for each other. Cheer each other on. Cry for each other when the disappointments come.

When I began praying about what God’s focus was for me at ACFW 2016, I believe He showed me this was a year to take my eyes off of myself. I chose to remove myself from a place of comparison.

How do we move beyond a place of comparison?

We look for ways to encourage others.

During the conference, a number of friends received amazing news. I loved being their cheerleader. Rejoicing with them. Cheering for friends who won contests.

When we take our eyes off ourselves and our wants—and we focus on others—comparison’s talons lose their grip on our hearts.

Comparison's talons copy

God met me where I was. He showed me the things He wants me working on to move forward in my journey. He’s placed people around me to pray for and encourage me.

And I had the privilege of uplifting others because we “get” each other on this journey.

What about you? How do you do battle with comparison? How do you encourage others?

(Click to Tweet) How do we move beyond a place of comparison?

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett and Kelly Balarie’s RaRaLinkup.