In my last blog post, I compared the parts of a novel to real life. Just like a lead character in a novel, all of us face conflicts that keep us from attaining what we desire in this earthly life. Through the conflict, we either modify our goals or we find ways to overcome the conflicts. Through the struggle, we change and become stronger people.
In any creative process, it’s easy to think the published book or article is the final word, the painting is just the way the artist wants it, the music is how it ought to be. I’ve got news for you. The creative process is an evolving process. So many writers and speakers get in trouble for things they said in their early years that don’t coincide with their current thinking. That is so not fair. As soon as I post any of my blogs, I think of other ways, better ways, I could have said the same thing. It’s tempting to post more of the same, trying to explain myself so my readers can understand me. Most of the time I resist, because I don’t want to put all of you to sleep or make your hand heavy on the delete button.
I realize I left a major question unanswered about creating a knockout life. So today, I take that risk.
So Karen, how will you overcome the conflicts you face? How are you going to get that book published?
Actually I have many more life goals than just getting a book published. I want to:
Have a good marriage.
Be a better encouragement to my husband.
Be an influence and guide to my adult children.
Be a model of a godly Christian woman to the other women in my church fellowship.
I seem to face the same recurring conflicts whichever path I happen to be on: distractions, discouragement, opposition from others, weakness, or a lack of skill or knowledge on my part to make my dreams happen. The point I was making last time is this: Just as a writer gets creative and intentional about overcoming the conflicts, we can funnel the same creative energy in discovering unique and outside the box solutions to overcoming the conflicts in real life.
Prayer. I’ve learned to start my mornings with this prayer: “Lord I don’t know what today will bring. But You do. Please give me the strength and wisdom to meet the challenges of today when they come.” I’m learning to bow the knees of my heart every time I approach a tangle in my day, a rock in my path or an opposing force of any kind. Even in those pesky moments of matrimonial mis-communication, I’ve learned to cry out to the Lord, please show me what to say. Help me love this man even though we don’t seem to be understanding each other. I tell you, God has been so faithful to smooth those rough moments in my relationships!
Prayer includes intercessory prayer. Are other people your conflict? Pray for them! Pray that God will work within them to change attitudes and behaviors. Pray that God use them to sharpen you and that you can influence them. Surrender them to the Lord, then get back to work, reaching toward the objective God has given you.
Practice: Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep making it better. Keep learning.
My early days of playing the piano were horrendous, my first bread baking efforts pathetic. Too many times I forgot to turn the oven from preheat to bake, thus ruining loaves of bread my family couldn’t afford to throw away. Just like bread baking or piano playing, marriage and godly living takes practice. I will do it wrong sometimes. But I pick myself up, dust myself off, figure out what might work better the next time, and do it again.
Ponder the Word of God; If you have the spiritual goal of building a relationship with Christ Jesus, reading His guidebook is the best way I know to learn how to live the life He has called you to live. Just as I go to writer’s conferences and read books and blogs to hone my writing craft, I need a constant refresher course in the craft of loving God.
Perseverance: Just hang in there. I learned this principle from an eighty year-old preacher named Ben Merrold who spoke to a convention hall full of preachers and their wives. Ben retired from a church that, under his leadership, grew to mega-proportions to move to another church so he could help build that church up. Ben’s message to us was candid and transparent as he admitted some of the struggles he faced. He told how through God’s help he and his staff prevailed and kept trusting God to get them through. With each point, he said in an un-preacherly yet grandfatherly way, “And you just hang in there too.” I wasn’t the only one sniffling. Because Ben had the life experience, he also had the credibility to tell us, “hang in there.” If Ben could hang in there, so could we.
Philippians 3:13b-14 says,
“But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I need to take this to heart. I mull over the conflicts too much. I need to let them go, forget about them, and keep pressing forward, straining forward toward my objectives. Perhaps you do too.
Now it’s your turn:
What is your life goal?
Why do you want to reach that goal?
What’s keeping you from doing it?
How are you going to do it anyway?
You have the tools to make it happen. How you, as an intricately unique individual created by a loving Heavenly Father, choose to use those tools will make for a fantastic life story, one that I and the rest of the world would love to read. After all life isn’t just stranger than fiction – it’s far more interesting.