If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Galatians 6:3 NIV
Well, that verse hit me between the eyes, literally. My phone slipped. I’ll let you use your imagination. That attempt at humor was necessary because the verse hit too close for comfort. Yes, that was a lame attempt at a pun.
Being an independent or indie author has its challenges, one being comparing myself to those I perceive as doing well, or at least better than the mediocre person writing this. Another is thinking I’m not good enough to fulfill my God-given mission. I allow negative, self-destructive thoughts to fill my mind and then formulate excuses to justify or make myself feel better.
“I’m not doing as well as them, but they had some advantages.”
That’s a dangerous place to be. Paul talks about this in Galatians six, verse four.
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. Galatians 6:4 NIV
When I read this verse, my human nature kicked in, and I reminded God I write slowly, don’t have an English degree or training, and do far more revisions than I desire. I struggle with low vision and migraines and keep my grandkids, and, and, and.
But God’s word is clear—test your actions against yourself, not against those around you. I could almost hear His frustration.
Heidi, as long as you compare yourselves to others, you’ll make excuses.
I spend so much time focusing on what others have accomplished and seeing my failures that the symphony in my mind sounds like tuning up rather than playing a masterpiece. It takes effort to remember that only when I tune out those noises and focus on my potential, my responsibility, and the opportunities God has brought my way, that’s when I make progress.
When I have a day with low sales or someone returns a book, I easily deceive myself into thinking I don’t measure up. That takes me down a rabbit hole: “I’m not contributing to Kingdom work, and I’ll never make a difference until I (fill in the blank).”
That kind of thinking stifles ministry. I cannot focus on Christ alone when my eyes are on me–or others. I have to remember my purpose of finding unintrusive ways to weave God throughout my stories and into the lives of my characters so the reader yearns for the same kind of faith. It doesn’t matter how many books I sell or the five-star reviews I get. I only need to focus on being obedient to my calling.
When I’m weary, keeping my mind focused on all things eternal often means calling in reinforcements. Several author friends bless, encourage, and help me redirect my focus back to God’s purpose.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4.
My author friends do not see their writing as a competition but as a ministry. They envelop me in a community where no one is comparing themselves to the other but lifting each other and praying each meets the need of one reader’s heart. This kind of community allows each distinct instrument to play its part along with others to make beautiful music.
“My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.” Martin Luther
Wherever you are, find a community of believers who will help you see the truth, encourage you when you’re discouraged, keep you from believing the lies you are telling yourself, and help you maintain focus on Jesus Christ.
If you struggle with self-deception, I’d be honored to pray for you. Please reach out to me.