I just returned from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, a powerful four-day conference not only full of awesome keynote speakers and writers workshops, but full of faith, fellowship, worship and encouragement. I was honored to have been asked to speak, and presented two workshops which went well…the attendees were appreciative and attentive and I really felt that I was helping them learn something about writing and marketing their books.
But the most powerful experience of the conference was when I met one-on-one with a seasoned literary agent who helped me in my lowest moment of frustration and doubt, and then in turn met with a very young, yet-unpublished writer who was in despair – and I was able to “pay it forward”. When I sat down that morning with the agent, I was feeling emotional, as I had started to wrestle with doubts as to how to move forward with my next manuscript, and frustration that my book sales aren’t where I want them to be yet. The agent gave me some frank advice, and then prayed with me, asking God for favor for me and my books, which brought me to tears – of grief, healing and gratitude. A few hours later at lunch, a 20-year-old writer asked to sit next to me and proceeded to cry, telling me she felt like she had made a mistake in choosing her publisher, had wasted a lot of time and didn’t see a way out. I gave her some honest advice based on my past experience, and then prayed with her that she find favor as well. And I realized, in encouraging her, that I was passing on the same message God intended for me through the agent – that He has a plan for each of us and He won’t let us fall if we are obedient and faithful, just putting forth our best efforts to try to know and do His Will.
As I sat and listened to my favorite Bible passage read yesterday in Mass, I was filled with even more encouragement, hope and gratitude. St. Paul told the Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28). I was reminded that the past four days had been filled with this message as several speakers told their “rags to riches” stories of how they had sacrificed, lost, despaired – and came out on the other side to find hope, favor and success in their writing careers. And tears fell again as the church congregation sang “Be Not Afraid.”
If you need encouragement this week, don’t be afraid to ask someone to pray with you…and to pay it forward.