However, as we've been going viral in this household (and I don't mean in a marketing kind of way) I've had more time than usual to read.
Charles Stanley ministries offered me the opportunity to review his new book entitled Emotions. With main topics such as rejection, envy, and discouragement I almost immediately saw parallels to the writing life and some of the emotions we deal with in this ministry. In the next few posts I would like to share some things I've learned from Stanley's book.
"God created you and me with the capacity to experience the full gamut of emotions so we could enjoy life, share our inner being with others and reflect his image. They were given to us as a gift so we can interact meaningfully with our heavenly father and the people we know." (Chapter 1, Emotions by Charles Stanley).
What a great thought not only for our own emotions, but also with our characters. We want them to have the full gamut of emotions and if we hold back emotion in our own life, how can we write rich characters that will minister to others.
Stanley says, "God knows you perfectly, sees your scars, and fully understands the reason you react to situations the way you do." (Chapter 1, Emotions).
How can we think we know the right plan for our own lives? Do we really understand God's timing in those rejection letters? Or when he asks us to place our writing career on hold to raise our children or work overtime to help pay the bills? Proverbs 16:25 says the way man thinks is right leads to death. We have no knowledge of what is right apart from asking for his wisdom.
But the Lord cares deeply about your wounds, every small and large concern on your heart. When we're brokenhearted the Lord delights to heal us and to bind our wounds. What is your wound? The thirtieth rejection letter? Envy for a writing friend who has received rewards? We cover over our envy and it is not healed. Bring it to the Lord, He can handle your honest outpouring of emotion.
Then Stanley advises we can ask the Lord to change any wrong areas of thinking. Our hearts are so dark we often don't even know what they are so we ask the Lord search me and know my heart. Show me if there is any unclean thing in me. (Psalm 26:2-3)
What are the most painful experiences in your writing life?
Do you have any wounds that remain from them?
Are there bare emotions exposed when you think of these things?
The wounds are often deeper than we realize, we need the Lord to show us even the depth of them.
What messages about yourself do you struggle with as a result?
Lately I've had a very hard time sharing my work with the critique group I belong to, often making excuses. The work isn't polished enough. This is my first draft (which is often true, but you get the picture). The truth is I have a pride problem. I make excuses to cover that up. I will grow at my own rate and in the Lord's timing.
What lies do we believe about ourselves, spiritual lies that affect our writing life? Have we accepted the lie that the opinions of our agent, a potential editor, or a critique mean more than God? (We do need to gracefully accept criticism and allow it to change our writing, but I mean something deeper. We can NOT allow it to change how we see our identity, which is never changing. Stanley suggests studying the book of Ephesians and internalizing what God says about us as believers.
Or perhaps we've accepted the lie that we want to be published RIGHT now only so God can use us. God can and will use you right where you are. Don't despise small beginnings. Be willing to humble yourself to allow God to use your writing, even if its not in a way you expect. Last year, writing prayers for a prayer team of 10-12 ladies blessed me far more than writing an article that went to 60,000 libraries. The fruit may not come where you expect or when you expect. The gift fully belongs to God so be willing to let him use it in a way that may seem strange to you. Be willing to be invisible in using your gift for him.
In Chapter 2, Stanley discusses God's purpose for our emotions.
When we feel rejection or fear of the future we are often wrestling with wounds caused by other losses we've faced. Will God fail to supply all we need. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
What other wound might you struggle with here, that goes beyond your writing life? Does our next novel need to be published this year so we can provide for our family? No, God is going to supply all we need. Our Jehovah Jireh.
Why do we focus on our disappointments rather than our joys? Spend some time journaling about what God has done in your writing life. How has he shown himself faithful? Then spend some time journaling about what he has done in your life as a whole.
Stanley talks about the fact that if we don't follow we'll always wonder what God could have done through us.
What are some gifts of rejection? They help us realize that our writing gift is only from Him and He is fully in charge of it.
Rejection helps us realize how much we need God. During trials we are apt to pull closer and closer to him.
Furthermore, it helps us to be more aware of our heavenly calling. We remember what the important things are in life, the eternal things. We have acceptance of God through Jesus Christ's shed blood if we are believers. What can the rejection of man do to us? It helps us to realize where we may be idolizing man's opinion above God's.
What about other's successes? Our emotions help us to weep with others, they can also help us rejoice with others. We all have positive experiences we can draw on to help us empathize with other's success. What gift of rejoicing can you bring based on your own life?
Acknowledge what you are feeling. Don't be afraid to give a name to envy, jealousy, pride, bitterness, or other emotions. We need to get in our prayer closet. God has everything we need to deal with these emotions.
What is helping us to deal with rejection and feelings of inadequacy? God alone, or do we look for something else. Its not wrong to drink a mocha, buy a new sweater, or eat a piece of chocolate cake perse but are we bandaging a wound that is meant to be fully healed by God. I admit I struggle with this. These last few months, but those treats don't fill me for long. Not where it matters. They instead leave an empty spot.
**Thank you to Howard Books and Charles Stanley ministries for sending me an ebook. The opinions enclosed are my honest thoughts. If you are interested in reading, here's a link to Emotions by Charles Stanley. **
Do you have verses that have helped you when you have gone through difficult times in your writing life?
Julia writes contemporary fiction to mirror truth. A former assistant librarian, she now channels her card cataloguing skills into homeschooling her elementary aged littles and writes for Library Journal. She has reviewed for a number of websites for several years.