+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.
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.
And I’m still here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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All of you look lovely and even more importantly, joyful! Through encouragement we are all part of each other’s journey and get to experience so much more of life. I have struggled with comparison in different parts of my life and you are so right that the perfect antedote is to be giving and celebrating no matter where we are on our own personal journey. And we have so much more fun in doing so!
Lynn, I loved what you said about how encouragement invites interconnectedness. I’ve struggled with comparison in most of the areas of my life. I’m working to renew my thought processes so that this isn’t my go-to mode when my wounds are stomped on, if that makes sense. 🙂 You’re right. It’s way more fun to encourage others on their journeys!
Love the wisdom you share here! It’s so true that comparison kills our joy. So much better when we can accept that God has different paths for each of us and cheer each other on.
In a different journey that is not as fast as I’d like, I’m grateful for the reminder that God knows what he is doing- to go at his pace and keep looking to him.
Yes, Lesley. Comparison absolutely kills our joy. I always think about John 21, where Peter is trying to get a glimpse into John’s life. Jesus redirected him to focus on his own life story. We all need that reminder sometimes. I agree. When I’m struggling, it’s reassuring to know that God knows what He’s doing as He directs us on our journeys. Thank you so much for stopping by!
All the time. One author in particular has been my benchmark, and I’m so far behind. And that mindset is lethal. The writer life for me, especially this year, has been a roller coaster. I keep reminding myself it doesn’t matter if 300 people or 10,000 people read my books, as long as they bless the readers.
Terri, for what it’s worth, when ‘Blessed Are the Pure Of Heart’ came out, I wanted it to get onto Oprah’s reading list.
It didn’t, but the feedback I got indicated that it has been important for some combat veterans who read it. Since 22 combat veterans kill themselves daily, it was more than worth it.
Ahhh, Terri. I’ve set those benchmarks too. What a disaster that turns out to be! When God’s timing is different from our own we can end up being all kinds of discouraged. I love your reminder that our books should bless those who read them, not be a benchmark of our success.
I loved hearing a bit about your writing story at ACFW last week! Even if I was in the wrong class. 😉
It’s hard, Jeanne. But you are a Godly example of how to handle the wait. We admit it’s hard, we admit comparisons are hard. And you have a sincere heart for the love of others, their accomplishments. And we keep asking for prayer from others and guidance. We remember God has His own time-table for us, yes. I’m so with you on this journey. It’s one of those things you can’t say, “I’ll give it this much time, and then I’ll give up” … because of our love for writing. And I just remember those amazing authors who say they have at least five unpublished manuscripts in their desk drawers. And I remember how many rejections someone like Max Lucado received. So yes, I’m walking this walk with you. And we’ll be there to rejoice for each other when it happens for us. And we’ll keep striving and learning. I love you. You always encourage me … and I so needed this talk.
You’re right, Shelli. Asking for prayer is key. When we have those safe people to be vulnerable with, it’s a relief to have others who help carry our burden. And, yes, now that God has awakened this desire to write, given me a calling to it, I can’t imagine not doing it. I want to do it well, for His glory. I hope my words and stories will draw others closer to Him.
You bring up a good reminder. Even the most well-known authors have probably faced rejections at some point in their careers. We’re in good company! 🙂 I love you back, sweet friend!
You, my friend, are wise. You, my friend, are a woman of deep faith. And I am so, so thankful to know you.
You, my friend, are an inspiration. I thank God for bringing you into my life all those years ago!
Beautiful. Jeanne, you inspire me. Thank you. I especially liked the reminder that God sees our entire journey, and therefore we can trust Him with it—always.
Blessings ~ Wendy
I find comfort in the truth that God sees our entire journey. It blows my mind to realize He’s not constrained by time like we are. He already knows what the final scene of our life stories is. And yes, He is most definitely trustworthy. Thanks for your encouraging words, my friend!
Oh, I just love the line, “I am in a unique place of blessing.” As I think you know, I struggle with the comparison trap, too. What a wonderful truth to remember when I look around at others–I am in a unique place of blessing. Thank you for this!
Emily, sometimes we need that new perspective to see where we are as a place of blessing, don’t we? Sometimes, I see it so clearly. Other times? It looks so far away. 🙂 I’m thankful that God doesn’t change, and that He helps us when we put our eyes on Him.
To move at His pace and to encourage other instead of comparing. Yessssss. Clinging to the wisdom and grateful for your example and the plans the Lord has for you, Jeanne!
Yes, the moving at God’s pace is sometimes challenging, isn’t it, Bethany? Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!
Ohhhh, Jeanne. How I loved this post. You are one of the brightest diamonds in this writer world. You shine no matter where you are. You ALWAYS speak love and kindness over people no matter where your heart is.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself “I wish I was more like Jeanne, she’s just so KIND and Christ centered, and I am so totally not.”
You were on my heart and in my thoughts and prayers during ACFW.
But something Lori Benton said rings true like a bell in the Tower of London, “enjoy the pre-contracted time. It is the only time you can write with pure freedom.”
I struggle with that, and with other things. BUT, it is true. This is the time in which you hone your voice, and find your strength and fire.
You have no idea how much people admire and respect you, do you?
God has blessed us with you. Agented or contracted, or not, you are a beacon.
Jennifer, you are such an encourager. 🙂 Thanks for your prayers during ACFW. It was such a fabulous few days (at least for me!).
I’ve heard those words Lori shared with you too. It’s funny how, we can look at others living out the dreams we share and want it so badly. But, all dreams have responsibilities. It’s good to keep that perspective.
Thank you for being an uplifter in my corner!
This is a beautiful perspective, Jeanne. I’m glad you were able to go to the conference and truly enjoy yourself.
I think what helps me with comparison is knowing that others are living out the stories God has written for them, and I am living out the story He has written for me. All are good stories, and all are designed with His purposes in mind. When I can’t see the purpose, I have to trust the Author. Pretty simple, but awfully hard at times too!
Ahhh, Lois, your presence here always lends a bit of peace. 🙂 I think you’re right. When we remember we’re each living out the stories God’s written for us, it’s easier to keep our eyes on Him and not so much on others. That’s such a great perspective. I love what you said at the end. When we can’t see the purpose, we have to trust the Author. Thank you for adding to the conversation!
“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.” This is a good place to be. Sometimes we are impatient, but God’s timing is best.
It’s easy to look at the successes of others and be jealous, but that would accomplish nothing. How much better to cheer them on and rejoice with them. Our turn will come in His timing.
I’m so grateful for the writing communities I belong to, because of the way we all encourage each other. Many blessings to you, Jeanne! I’m your neighbor at the #RaRaLinkup today!
Yes, Gayl, I feel like the queen of impatience! 🙂 He’s had to rein me in so many times, and remind me that His timing is perfect. You are blessed to belong to encouraging writing communities. They really make a difference, don’t they? So glad we’re neighbors today!
Beautiful, Jeanne… We are all uniquely created — so there is *no* comparison! Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your writing journey, your heart takeaway moments, and experience at ACFW 2016 conference. [Imagining how freeing, having NO appointments!] Your pictures tell so much of the wonderful comradarie and encouragement writers often share — love that!
I would love to pray for you and your endeavors, and would so appreciate you praying for mine.
Becky, it’s so important to remember that we are all uniquely created. And with that truth, we should live like our journey is the one that matters, not someone else’s. 🙂 I’ll take those prayers you’re offering, and I’ll pray for you too. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Wonderful post. A wise reminder that our God positions us right where we need to be at this moment. When we truly come alongside one another, we gain such rich friendships and a freedom in our hearts. Blessings!
It’s a comfort knowing God has plans for our lives. And yes, Joannewhen we come allngside others we do find freedom.
Jeanne, what a lovely, lyrical post, so transparent, hopeful, and strong!
When I look at my life in comparison to others, it would be easy to say, “Wow, what a train wreck!” And from one perspective that’s true.
But the train wreck positioned me to be able to give a home to Strawberry, who’s sleeping at my feet as I write this.
The most delicious grapes carry in their sweetness both sunlight and dank, foul manure. You can’t separate the components; rejecting the ordure rejects the grape.
And if He is the vine and we are the branches, we carry in us the legacy of His torture and killing and burial, along with the Father’s eternal Light. We are linked, from grave to Heaven, in a chain that can’t be broken.
And that, my friend, is the only comparison we need.
Andrew, such a beautiful perspective and powerful words. We Sre linked to His torture, and to His victory over death. I’ve been mulling your words all day. Thank you!
Andrew, what a beautiful perspective and powerful words! We are linked to Jesus’ torture, and to His victory over death. I’ve been mulling over your words all day. Thank you.