Where Are We Getting Validation?

Today, Robin Jones Gunn posted the following quote on her Facebook: "Faith is seeing light with your heart, when all your eyes see is darkness."

Wow. So beautiful, and so true.

Only halfway through the week, and I've already gotten some very good news as well as some not-great news regarding my writing. Do you ever have weeks like that, where suddenly all the answers you've been waiting for seem to come at once? 

It's amazing how often we confuse things going our way with validation. Have you noticed that? This idea challenged me as I read Jesus Calling yesterday. The passage said when our will and God's will are in sync, we tend to feel in control of our lives, and I would take that a step further by saying we also tend to see our circumstances as validation of our calling.

The problem with that response is that, while circumstances can certainly be encouraging or discouraging, they do not substantiate, nor create, nor validate our calling.

Only God can do that.

Things not working out the way you wanted them to does not mean God has forgotten about you, changed His mind about His promise, or has stopped loving you deeply. It just means that for whatever reason, your desires have gotten out of sync. The good news is, Proverbs says when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our hearts, so that our desires come to meld with his own. I think one of the biggest times we feel this conflict is when we begin to look for validation outside of God alone.

I was so excited yesterday when I received good news. More on that to come soon, I promise! I felt like everything was falling into place, and God was reminding me why He put me on this writing journey in the first place. And maybe He was doing just that. But then today, when a very nice not-right-for-us-now rejection came, those feelings of affirmation vanished as they were once again replaced by "keep waiting."

We often ask how to sustain our hearts and minds during the waiting game. 

But I think we're asking the wrong question. 

I think a better question would be how to look toward God alone for validation, regardless of what is going on.

Circumstances change. Contracts are signed, stories are rejected, and there's a lot of waiting going on in between. If we're not careful, our emotions get caught on this roller coaster ride. Some of that is a natural emotional response, but I think God is calling us not to waste the time He has provided. 

If you are waiting, learn to put your hope in God alone. Apply yourself to learning the writing craft. Discipline yourself to become a better writer. But above all, realize that your calling is about deepening your relationship with God. No publisher or agent or future readership can validate that, nor can they take it away.

I've always thought it was a euphemism when people said, "Don't worry about contracts. All that matters is that you're following God." Easy for them to say, when their story isn't on the line, right? But really, I'm learning there's so much truth in that sentiment. Right now, your focus may be finding an agent or a publishing house. Maybe it's expanding your already-existent audience or moving to a larger publishing house. Maybe it's sales numbers or bestseller lists. These goals are fine to make, because they give us forward motion. But the thing is, they are never ending. If we attempt to find our validation in goals, we will never find it at all. Instead, we must look to God, where our validation has been all along.

Do you find yourself looking to things like contracts or sales numbers for markers of success? How can we shift our focus to the more profitable goal of fulfilling our calling each day?


  1. I can't wait to hear your good news, Ash! And yes, I've struggled with this very thing sooooo often. In fact, about a month ago, God gave me very clear signs that I was supposed to take my time and not rush into submission, even though I had an agent who wanted to see my work. God is teaching me to do things on His timetable, which is the best way--but often the hardest. But that just shows me that I'm focusing on the wrong things...not the things God wants me to focus on.

    1. So true, Linds! It can be very hard to stay focused on what God would have us do when we start getting positive feedback from other sources that draw us. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Lovely post, Ashley. And so true in all areas of life.

    I'm trying so hard to keep this at the forefront dealing with my teenage son's debilitating migraines. It seems we get a glimmer of hope, and then, bam, a relapse. So frustrating and heartbreaking to watch your child suffer. I am trying to keep in mind the bigger picture and see what God wants us all to learn from this.

    But man, it's so hard. Writing seems like a piece of cake in comparison.

    Best of luck with whatever is going on in your writing life!


    1. Sue, I'm so sorry to hear about your son! I know your heart must break seeing him have to walk through this. I pray they will be able to find a treatment plan that works well for him, and soon!

  3. Quite the week for you!

    I SO love your perspective, Ash. This spoke to me about a personal situation with a family member...I need the reminder to keep my eyes focused on Him...loving people, but not looking to them for approval.Thanks!

  4. I'm in a similar place at the moment, Ashley. All's I can say is, I'm loving being part of the process, because I've been waiting 10 years for God's timing and leading to move forward. It hasn't fit with my family life's time needs previously.

    It helps a lot to have a variety of things going on, I find. Editing, talking with friends about what's going on in their careers, and working on my own stuff. That way I can always find something to praise God for. I'm in it because I want to make a good impact on others, so having many ways to do that removes frustration and discouragement.

    Good news is good! Looking forward to hearing yours!

    1. Cat, I hear ya! I think your advice is excellent. Focusing on the next project makes all the difference in keeping forward momentum. Thanks for swinging by today!