Times when I perservered. Times when I didn't. The best of times, the worst of... you get the picture.
I want to share something I've learned through the past twenty years of writing and, for much of that time, working toward seeing my writing published one day. And that's how to deal with the doubts, frustrations, anxieties, uncertainties, rejections, and plain ol' negative thinking patterns that are particularly part and parcel of this writing life. Or any life given over to pouring oneself out creatively.
It's about taking every thought captive.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
Maybe it's easy to agree that taking those negative thoughts captive is a good thing to do. A healthy thing. A necessary thing for soul-peace in the long term, and to be certain we aren't straying over into damaging and self-defeating patterns of thinking and behavior.
But what does it look like practically, this taking thoughts captive?
Taking thoughts of doubt, fear, or anxiety captive doesn't mean I exert my will over them. It means I surrender them to God's will. It means I strive to live in an attitude of prayer, because those thoughts bombard me often, and most often without warning.
When they do, I'm teaching myself to take them straight to Him in prayer. Lay them out. Be honest. And reaffirm that He's the one, ultimately, in control of what happens to my writing, and to me, the writer. Reaffirm, with words spoken out loud, lips moving (as my pastor likes to say), that His will, whatever it turns out to be, will be the best for me. Better than what I think is best, in my limited view from this side of any given choice. He loves me. He gave Jesus to die for me. He is a good shepherd. I can trust Him with whether or not any story of mine is ever published, and if it is, then on down the line through every uncertainty that lies along that path.
I can trust Him and His good plans. I can rest in that. There's no need to spend days or even hours fretting over a disappointment, or worried about a decision I know is being made about one of my books--maybe right this very minute--as I wait, and wait, and wait some more.
But still those thoughts come like fiery darts. When they do, and I catch myself getting tense and worried about some part of this writing journey that's out of my control (and even some that aren't!), and rolling those jagged-edged thoughts round and round my head like stones in a polisher that just won't smooth over, I have a choice to make. I can either...
1. Start talking to the Lord about them, reminding myself of His good plans, His perfect foresight, His perfect timing and situation for my books, for me, for any ministry that might come of them. Or I can....
2. Go on fretting. Perhaps whine to a friend, or to my husband. Or fret myself into a migraine and probably a stomach ache too.
It's my choice. Over and over. Hour after hour.
Some days it's minute after minute! But His promises hold true. They're there for the believing, as often as necessary. I'm so thankful for that!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJ)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJ)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NKJ)