September 29, 2015

The Art of Hoping

I'm not a glass-half-empty kind of person. In general, I tend to be cautiously optimistic.

Except when it comes to myself.

You see, even though I've had good things happen to me before, I have this weird voice somewhere in the back of my mind. This voice likes to tell me that if I hope for something, it probably won't happen. And when the inevitable occurs, I'll be disappointed.

And disappointment, for some reason, is like the worst thing that could ever happen.

But see, I have this friend (cough, Melissa Tagg, cough). She likes to remind me that God has given us every reason to hope. And when it comes to dreaming, hope is the fuel that keeps us going. God has promised us GOOD THINGS, and when we pretend like those things don't exist, we lose something extremely precious along the way.

This is all fresh in my mind, because just over a week ago, I was up for a big award among unpublished authors in the inspirational fiction industry. I was attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, where the winner would be announced at a gala the last night. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck whenever I thought about the announcement. I finaled two years ago and didn't win (but lost to a very deserving and dear friend), and I was preparing myself for the same outcome again. But there were several instances throughout the conference when my attitude and perspective were challenged.

Other than some great conversations with my best writing buddies, a very distinct moment stands out to me. I was attending a session led by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck (two writing mentors of mine), and Rachel was talking about the ups and downs of the writing journey. She said, "You have to ask yourself, 'Can I allow God to handle my disappointments?'"

I can't even tell you the lightbulb that went off in my head! The day before, I'd attended a seminar on writing WITH God, and letting Him lead us in this writing adventure.

It's like God was saying to me, "Lindsay, I want you to take my hand and trust me -- wherever I lead. Don't hold onto your hope, but let it fly. If you keep it tethered to you, you'll lose steam. You'll never grow. You'll wither and eventually the good seed I planted in your heart -- the one that loves creating through the written word -- will die. I'm big enough to help you through the disappointments. Will you trust me?"

So instead of choosing the route that feels safer, that feels like I'm protecting my heart, I'm choosing a new motto:

It's better to have hoped and been disappointed than never to have hoped at all.

Thank goodness the Lord taught me that lesson. Because when my name was called as the winner of the Genesis competition in the contemporary category, my heart experienced the full effect of one that had hoped for God's best.

But even if I hadn't won, I know my heart wouldn't have shattered. Because I serve a God who is a gentle physician, healer of wounded spirits, and encourager of on-hold dreams.

Still in shock after winning the Genesis. 
With writing mentors Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren of My Book Therapy.
With my writing besties Melissa Tagg, Gabrielle Meyer, and Alena Tauriainen -- my support team!

September 7, 2015

The Lies We Believe


Yesterday my husband taught a lesson in our Sunday School class. It was about the passage in Matthew 6 that talks about worry -- and how we shouldn't do it.

There were a lot of great points made by him and others, but one thing he had written in his PowerPoint really struck me: "Worry can be evidence that we have believed a lie about ourselves, about the world, or about God." 

It made me stop. It made me think. It made me ask myself, "What lies do I believe?"

About myself? That I'm not enough. That I'm not a good enough writer to ever be published, that I'm not a good enough mom to Elliott, that I'm not a good enough wife, friend, daughter -- you name it, I've probably felt it.

About the world? That I'm all alone. That no one really cares what happens to me. Or how about, that the world doesn't need me. There's no place for me. I'm a misfit. I don't fit in. I've felt many of these things as well.

And what lies do I sometimes find myself believing about God? That maybe he doesn't really love me. Maybe I can't trust him. Maybe he won't work everything out for good -- especially when things are so, so bad.

The cool thing about this is that I'm starting to recognize the root of my worries. When we can examine the root for what it is -- a bunch of lies! -- we can replace it with truth.

Instead of believing I'm not enough, I can replace it with the truth that I am chosen. I am a daughter of the King, and THAT defines my worth.

Instead of believing that the world is full of only darkness, I can remember all the good things that people have done for me. I can CHOOSE to focus on the light -- not forgetting that the darkness is there, but choosing to place my trust in a higher power.

And instead of believing that God doesn't care, I can believe him when he says, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

Friends, let's make a choice to cast off worry and embrace God's truth. Because in the words of someone I respect and love greatly (wink), you can't "add a single hour to your life" by worrying!

Your Turn: What lie do you find yourself believing that leads to worry?

*Photo courtesy of snocksnap.io