For so long in my life, I have tried to find validation and rely on other people. I don’t know if it came as a side effect of being abandoned by my dad, or something else. But it started in Elementary school, when I first started in the third grade. Ever since then, when I had a best friend, I followed them around and tried to get their approval by acting the way I thought they wanted. At the time, I didn’t realize this was happening, but it was.
I did this with friends, boyfriends, and it took me finally moving away, marrying, and God healing me to finally learn that I had to lean on God and God alone. Throughout this time, I kept writing. But my writing turned from a hobby into a career. I learned to pray and rely on God’s inspiration. Back when I wrote on wattpad.com, I subconsciously thought that I mattered if my stories mattered. Every read or comment my books got, meant that I was important and valued.
It validated me.
Then, when I moved off wattpad to publishing—both traditionally and self-publishing, the dynamic shifted to how many sales I made. If my books sold well and people bought it, then I was validated and it meant I mattered. Or if I got feedback and review from people, it meant I mattered. If I did just as good as the next author, it meant I mattered.
But I was searching for validation and happiness in all the wrong places. It isn’t about how many sales my books make, or how many people read or enjoy my book. It isn’t even my book anyway—it’s God.
All that matters about me is that I am a child of God.
Not that I am doing the same things other authors are doing, or selling as much as they are. Or winning awards or making best-seller lists. It doesn’t matter who left me in my past or who may leave me in my future. What matters is that I do the work God has for me, whatever that may be.
But how can we know what that is if we never listen to God’s voice?
We can’t hear God’s voice if we don’t read His Word. That isn’t the only way He speaks to us, but it’s the main way. He gave us the Bible for a reason. It’s so important to read and know Scripture and I know this is one area—knowing and memorizing Scripture—where I could use a lot of work.
Sometimes, I feel like I have to do things the way other people say I do. Write this way, or be creative this way. Follow these guidelines or be this kind of person. Get a “real job” or any number of things I hear every day. Maybe you have people in your life, whether friends, family, or co-workers, who have said similar to you before. Not about writing, but about your life.
The only voice we should listen to is God’s. Now, that’s not to say we shouldn’t listen and respect other people, because we are called to love others as we love ourselves and to be kind to our enemies. But if you’re like me, there comes a point when we have listened to other people too much—to their words, their opinions about us, what they say and think, what they believe we should do, or how we should act, what we should wear or look like, what we should conform to, what kind of job we should have, or whether we should be married or not, or any number of things.
But what matters first and foremost, what matters most is what God says for you. What His plans are for your life. Being in His perfect will and following the path He has set before you.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5 and 6.
Our own understanding as humans is limited. God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours. So, how can we lean on other people’s understanding, their thoughts and opinions of us and what we should be doing? We shouldn’t lean on their understand and especially not our own. There is an old saying, “Follow your heart.”
No. Don’t do that. Our hearts are flesh and have sinful desires. Our hearts are based on our emotions, which doesn’t always listen to the Holy Spirit inside us telling us which direction to go.
Rather, the old saying, “What Would Jesus Do,” is way better advice. But don’t just think about it or assume what He would do. Pray about it and seek Him to find out what He tells you to do. What He wants you to do.
God first, family and friends second. And remember that God’s ways are higher than ours. That we are in the world, not of the world. That the way God has called us to go is the narrow road where not many travel.
Whose voice are you listening to today?