A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I planned to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference. Well, I did, and I’ve come home exhausted, but invigorated.
Who knew one could experience so many emotions during a three day writer’s conference?
I learned so much—in the classrooms—but even more as I immersed myself with other writers. I’m still processing everything, but here are some lessons I brought home:
1. Sweet fellowship happens when I come together with people who “get me.” We encouraged each other, prayed for each other and listened to the joys and disappointments of the weekend.
2. Disappointments are a part of the journey. How I handle them will determine what comes next. I struggled with discouragement during part of the conference. My feelings felt so . . . real. The thoughts produced hurt, and the sense of being overwhelmed. Their waves pushed me so far under I could hardly breathe. First, I brought the whole ugly mess in my heart to God. Then I put voice to them with people who have lived it. They spoke God’s gentle truths to me and restored a positive perspective.
3. Sometimes, joy is a choice. I believe my conference experience turned out exactly the way God intended. Many friends received requests for proposals and manuscripts. Most of the time I chose joy for them rather than pity for myself. It’s always amazing to see how God works to unite writers with agents and editors!
4. Being teachable makes the disappointments easier to work through. God is the Giver of stories. I am the one who must dedicate myself to learn how to write them. When I have a heart that’s willing to hear and receive guidance, I can work through disappointment more quickly and step forward with a new direction.
5. Look around. When my eyes focused on others rather than myself, I made new friends and found opportunities to encourage others. I also discovered specific things that will help tell the story in my heart. And, I glimpsed beauty in unexpected places.
6. Expect God to show up. He met me where I was throughout the weekend, and poured out His love in the most unexpected ways.
Though these lessons are writing related, they also translate into other facets of life. I came away from the conference exhilarated and so aware of God’s fingerprints pressed into every aspect of my weekend.
What about you? If you attended ACFW, what lessons did you learn? If you didn’t, what are significant lessons you’ve learned in your life?