Dec

11

2013

Taking the “Dis” out of Discourage

by Nancy Farrier

NancyBattu2

With over 400,000 books in print, Nancy J. Farrier is no stranger to the ups and downs of the writing life. That combined with being a worship leader and Bible study leader has given her all kinds of valuable lessons on discouragement–and its solutions!

__________

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair…”    II Cor. 4:8a

During my writing career, I’ve often felt like Paul, hard-pressed on every side or perplexed due to the many areas of discouragement I’ve faced. Unlike Paul, I’ve often felt crushed and in despair. When I prayed about staying strong, God gave me a way to battle discouragement, showing me three areas where I often come under attack. Once recognized, they are easier to combat.

D—The first area is those who are distant to me. These are people I don’t know well, but who have contact with me: readers, critics, sometimes industry professionals. I don’t believe any of these people intended to say or do things to discourage me, but seemingly insignificant comments often cut deep. Even when most of my reader letters are very positive, notes like the following too often have a greater impact:

“I bought one of your books to give my granddaughter, started to read it first, and realized you’ve never opened a Bible in your life!”

I can’t tell you how much that hurt. I love God’s Word and I love sharing Scripture, so that attack was more painful than most. She didn’t say why she came to that conclusion. She didn’t even give her name or contact information. Perhaps from her perspective she was being honest, but her words wounded me and made me doubt my abilities.

When I first faced these types of criticism, I would be depressed and question my calling and my ability. Now, I understand that I have no control over what others perceive in my writing. My job is to please God–and only God.

I—Second on my list are those intimate to me: family, friends, co-workers, church people. Once again, they don’t mean to dishearten, but all too often, they do. Early in my fiction writing career, someone close to me asked, “So, when are you going to write real books?” This person meant nonfiction books, because they didn’t believe in reading fiction. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion or reading preferences, but that question belittled my work. I felt what God called me to do for Him didn’t count or wasn’t important.

I find it harder to face discouragement from family and friends. I used to want to justify myself and my writing to them. Now, I thank them for their comments and go to God with the issue they raised. I want to be aware of what God wants from me, not what other expect, but I also don’t want to ignore a change if it’s God’s plan.

S—Third on my list, and perhaps the worst to battle, is self. I can be very hard on and critical of myself. When I see others more successful or in a place where I want to be, I tend to question what is wrong with me. The answer of course is that as long as I’m doing my best and working hard, I’m right where I should be. I’m not the one in charge, God is. Now, I’m learning to recognize those moments when I am my own worst enemy. I realized I’m elevating myself in importance and instead return my focus to God. His plan for me is perfect and does not depend on the plan He has for anyone else.

I love looking at the story of the Israelites when they were led to the Promised Land. I can relate to those men who saw the giants and were afraid. When I look at the ‘giants’ mentioned above, sometimes I’m tempted to run away. I don’t want to face criticism or complaints, but in Deuteronomy 1:28, the Israelites excuse of “our brethren have discouraged our hearts” was considered rebellion.

Therefore, I find I need to remember Joshua’s words in Joshua 1:9 to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” My writing success doesn’t depend on others or on myself. It depends on God. He will go before me. He will heal me when I’m wounded by others. He will be alongside me no matter what.

Writing is a solitary and difficult business. There are so many distractions I wouldn’t have with that nine-to-five type of job. The pressure can become especially bad during the holiday season, when I have to juggle writing with all the extras of shopping, wrapping, mailing, entertaining, and on the list goes. To avoid getting depressed in a time that should be filled with wonder, I have to maintain focus on what is the most important, and keep my eyes on God.

When I understand God is right there with me, I can take the DIS out of Discourage, leaving me with the Courage to face anything.

37 Responses to “Taking the “Dis” out of Discourage”

  1. Jackie Layton December 11, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    What a great post today.

    One summer I helped teach Bible School and one of the songs was “Be Strong and Courageous, do not be afraid.” I can still hear the tune in my head. What a great scripture to reflect on today.

    Thanks!

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      Jackie, I love keeping songs like that in my mind. They help give me a lift when I need them. Thank you.

  2. Brenda Garrison December 11, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    Nancy, I felt every word you wrote. Thank you for the EN-couragement! It was exactly what I needed. Thank you!

  3. Henry McLaughlin December 11, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    Nancy,

    Thank you for this inspiring and encouraging post. It reminds me to focus on what I’m called to do. Self is my biggest area of battle against discouragement. Thank you for putting it all in proper perspective for me.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Thank you, Henry. Self is always a big battle. Thanks for commenting.

  4. KT Sweet December 11, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Thank you, Nancy! Your words touch my heart, right where it needed encouragement to keep writing. Thank you for His scriptural reminders, too.

  5. Jeanne Takenaka December 11, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    Nancy, what a beautiful post. Writing is such a vulnerable calling. I’ve found that I battle my thoughts about my writing vs others’, and this always leads down a bad path. Hearing others’ opinions about my writing, or forming my own based on faulty criteria pulls me down the discouragement trail.

    I love your reminders to take it all back to God: to remember that I should write to please my Audience of One first and foremost, to seek to know what God wants from me, not what others expect and to keep my focus on God, not on me. His perspective is always accurate, whereas mine….well, it’s not.

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your heart today! I needed this.

  6. Diane Ashley December 11, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Hi Nancy, What a great post. Thanks so much for sharing your insight with us. I cannot tell you how much encouragement your words bring to me during a difficult season in my life. God bless you and your family.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      Hugs and prayers to you, Diane. God bless you and keep you in the tough times and the good times ahead.

  7. Jennifer Dyer December 11, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    Nancy, I needed to hear that today. Thanks.

  8. Chris Malkemes December 11, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    This is why I follow this blog. Thank you.

  9. Robin Patchen December 11, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Thank you for the encouragement today. Great post.

  10. Cristine Eastin December 11, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Thanks, Nancy. Such timely words.

    It’s really all about self, isn’t it. Thoughtless words of others wound my ego; they hammer on my dearly held ideas of who I am or who I want to be.

    I like your DIS model of proximity to us. You’re right: it gets harder to battle discouragement the closer the source.

    Another great reminder to write for an audience of ONE, and, rather than taking criticism immediately to heart, take it to Him.

    ps—your cat is beautiful!

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      Christine, you are so right about the audience of One. I don’t know why I get so easily distracted by criticism. Thank you for your comments. My cat thanks you too. ;)

  11. Debra L. Butterfield December 11, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    Lots to ponder. Thanks, Nancy. I often find myself in the grasshopper mindset, which is a focus on self. Thank you for the reminder to keep my focus on God.

  12. Martha Rogers December 11, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Thanks, Nancy. We all need to be reminded that we are not alone in this writing journey, and our Lord is our most important audience.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      Thank you, Martha. You’re right, God is the most important audience of all.

  13. Beverly Nault December 11, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Nancy, What a beautiful, honest, transparent post. I am in awe of your faith, have been a longtime fan of your work, and feel honored to know you as a friend. Most of all, I’m proud to call you a sister in Christ. Thanks for writing this, I’m going to print it out and re-read often when I need to be reminded to write for God and keep my eyes on Him.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      Thank you, Bev. I am so blessed to count you a friend, and you have often encouraged me when I needed it.

  14. Ron Estrada December 11, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    I find that most people are behind me when I take on a challenge like this. There are the naysayers, and they tend to be loud, but for the most part I have the support of my family and friends, even my co-workers, who are all very practical engineers. We do have to listen to what God tells us. After all, Noah didn’t have much public support, either. Neither did our Lord. We just have to press on and see where He takes us. We can’t tune out the naysayers, but we can put them in perspective. If you’re not offending someone, you’re probably not reaching enough people.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Ron. You’re right that we must have the right perspective.

  15. Jillian Kent December 11, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Loved this post, Nancy. Not too long ago I was listening to an Andy Stanley series on Comparisons. Your thoughts about how hard and critical we can be of ourselves is very real and each of us have to find ways to battle that self criticism. We get enough of that in the world no matter the jobs we hold. I like taking that Dis out of discourage. Thanks for sharing on this important topic.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      Thank you, Jill. This does apply to anyone, not just those who write. I appreciate your comments.

  16. Candy Arrington December 11, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Over the years, I’ve discovered jealousy is usually the motivating factor in criticism.

    Thank you for this post, Nancy.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      How true, Candy. Jealousy is another emotion we must put away from us. Thanks for commenting.

  17. Grace Fox December 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I can relate to so much of what you’ve experienced.

    I write devotionals, mostly. Last winter, while in the midst of writing my latest women’s devotional, a local Christian newspaper editor asked me, “When are you going to write a real book?” His comment hurt, but over time it’s helped strengthen my conviction to be faithful to God’s calling on my life. I write to obey and please Him, not to meet another’s expectations.

    • Nancy J Farrier December 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

      Grace, I met you at a writer’s conference years ago and still get your newsletter updates. I love your devotional thoughts and bits of inspiration you share. What God has called you to, you do so well. Thanks for sharing.

  18. J.D. Maloy December 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    “Now, I thank them for their comments and go to God with the issue they raised. I want to be aware of what God wants from me, not what other expect, but I also don’t want to ignore a change if it’s God’s plan.”

    Amen, sister! Taking it all to God… :)

    Nancy, your sincerity is felt and I applaud you for being brave here today. THANK YOU for sharing this inside perspective to the industry. P.S– Joshua 1:9 is one of my life verses :) Bring it on life, you got nothing on me cause the Creator of the universe lives in me!

    To Steve and the agency, thank you for posts like this. One of my top favorite reasons why I respect this agency is because of the honesty factor. I appreciate you keeping it real with us.

  19. Alina K. Field December 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    This is a beautiful post, Nancy, and a good reminder at any season.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image