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The Creative Conundrum: 3 Things I’m Learning About Identity

About this identity thing…

I opened up my email a few weeks ago and my heart skipped a beat. A response. From an editor at one of those big New York City Publishing houses. I’d been waiting 83 loooong days to hear from this editor, she’d already told me I was a good writer…so I was pretty certain all my writing dreams were about to come true. I had it all planned out.

Literary agents would be blowing up my phone trying to represent me. My book would debut as a New York Times Bestseller, I’d buy my darling husband that black Tesla we’d seen in the mall, and then whisk my family away for an all expense paid vacation to Fiji.

And therein lies the problem…I’d placed my hope, trust, and identity as a writer in acceptance from that publisher.

Why Identity is So Important?

In her book, Fervent, Priscilla Shirer explains that the oppressor works double-time to magnify our insecurities and diminish our strengths. He likes to keep us focused on our inadequacies, rather than what God has called and equipped us to do. Our enemy wants to cripple us by self-doubt, because how we see ourselves affects how we approach life. 

But “fervent prayer keeps your true identity in focus.” Our identity should be rooted and anchored in who we are in Christ. Not on:

  • worldly standards of success
  •  accomplishments
  • degrees
  • relationships status
  • or climbing up the corporate ladder.

Although, this is not the first time we’ve discussed identity.  I’ve come to some new conclusion over the past six months.  There are 3 things I MUST do to keep my identity in check.  So here we go…

Identity

1. Remember My Identity in Christ, Daily 

If I see myself based on the standards society has meted out for me, I could plunge into the depths of eternal depression. Because I can never live up to that standard of beauty, success, or relevance.

But if I put on the amour of God and daily remind myself  of who God says I am. Now that’s a different story. The Good Book says we are:

  • Accepted
  • Chosen
  • Forgiven
  • Redeemed
  • Beloved
  • Blessed
  • and Sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise

And Paul says all that in Ephesians 1!

Here’s a PDF that lists 23 more things the Good Book says about identity. (I recommend printing that out and placing it on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.)

Paul tells us with fervor to take hold of who we are and then switches to interceding on our behalf (v. 18). So that we will not be overtaken by the seeds of self-doubt that the enemy  tries to plant.

2. Drop Competition

Comparing yourself to others is the death knell of confidence. And the oppressor uses competition to keep us never feeling up to par. Don’t focus on what others are doing.

Focus on who God has perfectly crafted you to be and to do. You are not an orphan. You have a Heavenly Father that wants to protect, provide, and guide you every step of the way.

3. Examine Your Inputs 

Examine your inputs…and their amount.

Every day you are receiving thousands of messages about who you are “supposed to be.” If the majority of your inputs—a pitchers worth— are coming from movies, media, and the world…that is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. And your mind will be filled with doubt about your identity in Christ.

We should all work to ensure the messages of God’s Truth far outweigh the messages of the oppressor. 

A Special Note for Moms  

Motherhood Identity Crisis

Mom & Me Circa 1981

I was talking with my mom the other day and got all upset.

Because the enemy was planting seeds of doubt about her worth and impact on the planet. (If you’ve ever met my mom, you know EXACTLY why I was indignant. Her picture belongs right beside Proverbs 31.)

But it reminded me.

If you are a mom, it is very unlikely that you have a fan club. No one is going to congratulate you when your little one uses the potty for the first time, or when your son takes out the trash on his own accord.

These are wins. 

And God sees you and knows every seed you’ve sown into the life of your child. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, but it’s also the most under appreciated.

Your assignment is Divine and in ”due season you will reap a harvest.” Because you are raising arrows that will be shot out into the world and will impact the culture in which we live. I am praying for you.

A Special Note for Creatives

The Creative Conundrum is particularly complicated. Because there isn’t an adequate metric of success on whether or not our work matters.

That requires us to be especially attuned to the Spirit of God and relying on Him as the source of our worth. I’m praying for you and me both! 

About That New York Publisher

As you’ve probably guessed, the book did not get picked up by that highfalutin Publisher. But the editor was REALLY sweet. And I am learning —slowly but surely—to embrace the lessons He wants to teach me along this path to publishing.

Question: What are you learning about your identity? What else do I need to know? 

ps: If you’re new here, let’s keep in touch! Subscribe here. 

Love, Simone

24 Comments

  1. Thanks for the pdf on identity, Simone! I’m going to keep it handy. 🙂

    I’m a witness that comparison does nothing but stifle you. I fell into that trap in 2015 and was starting to get discouraged because so many of my author friends are able to produce books much faster than me! I was only writing my second novel and some of them had published a few books in the same time span. And they had husbands and children to care for! But God checked me on that real quick. He basically told me to stay in my lane and trust His timing. So that’s what I’ve been doing and I feel so much better without the pressure of comparison. I’m still very much in the learning process when it comes to writing and publishing, so it takes me a while. And that’s ok. Hopefully, one day I’ll hit my stride and be able to produce a few books a year. Until then, I’m content to keep honing my craft and enjoying the ride!
    Faith Simone recently posted…Let’s Talk About Sex…My Profile

    • Simone

      March 31, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Gurrrrl, you said a word right there–>>comparison does nothing but stifle you. Faith, I KNOW exactly what you mean. Because it made me try to fit into someone else’s mold. I’ve tried that, and the result is all bad:). I’ve been spending A LOT of time in prayer, and He is constantly reminded me to focus on my lane.

      But on the craft side of things, I really REALLY love your writing. Like for real. I went to ACFW last year, and one of the authors told me the key to being a successful indie is to produce 3 or 4 books a year *insert my raised eyebrows*. Is there anyway to produce 3 to 4 QUALITY books a year as an indie author? I’m curious. I mean if you are James Patterson or Priscilla Shirer and have a team of worker bees churning out the ancillary tasks…perhaps. I kind of get the same message from Quanie…she focuses on quality too.

      So I echo what you said, His timing. And I feel like He keeps reminding me that there’s something He wants to do in my character along this path, He’s focused on the journey. But I’ve been focusing on the destination.

      About the PDF, so glad you thought it was helpful too! I found it online and HAD to share. Sending you a great big hug!

      • I think that what that author at ACFW told you about indie production is true for a lot of folks. I follow quite a few authors who are totally able to produce 3-4 books a year. And they’re of good quality too! But most of them are full time authors. That’s their only job and that affords them the opportunity to make productivity their focus. Some day I hope I’m blessed to be in a similar position. I know it’s possible, I’ve just got to be patient with myself until it happens and not beat up on myself in the meantime! You’re right, His timing is everything.
        Faith Simone recently posted…Confessions of Faith: How I Fell Into (And Got Out Of) The Comparison TrapMy Profile

        • Simone

          April 8, 2016 at 3:43 am

          Hey Faith! Thanks for answering that question. That’s awesome so many of your friends are producing so many books a year! In my finite mind it just didn’t seem possible. But like you said, it’s God’s timing. And He’ll give us the capacity for what He wants us to do. I agree…His timing is perfect.

  2. Oh my friend! I love this post! So, so many great truths here, excellent reminders for me. I have a similar ‘who I am in Christ’ booklet that I look at all the time. 🙂

    I’m sorry to hear the editor said no, but I am so proud of you for continuing to walk the path God place you on! He’ll open a door; I know it! 🙂 *hugs*

    p.s. I wish you were going to the CO Springs ACFW event this weekend. 🙁 We need to catch up!

    • Simone

      March 31, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      LAURA!!! I’ve been meaning to email/text you. I am SO excited about you attending Write in the Spring. Remember I had a ‘pause’ about it? I mean I REALLY wanted to go, but I found out why I wasn’t comfortable buying that ticket. The Lord was cooking up something in the background. We’re headed to Miami Sunday for my first blogger conference, Hispanicize. I’m excited and ‘whelmed at the same time.

      I mean these are serious bloggers/viners/Instagramers with hundreds of thousands of followers and I…don’t even have a smart phone. I feel totally small. But, at the same time, God has just laid the path…maybe that’s why He’s been REALLY working on my identity in Him. I cannot wait to hear about the workshop. Bring some tissue. Real talk, I only heard Allen Arnold for an hour…and was a puddle. Thankfully, a nice lady had some extra to share:-).

  3. Simone, I looove reading this post. I am glad that you that time to talk with God and got direction in where to take this post. There are so many gems! I appreciate your honesty about your writing journey. I have never sent my writing to a publisher but I have received rejection on a smaller scale. It’s super hard because a writing project becomes your baby. So, rejection really hits hard. Yet, what you are learning about identity and rejection is so worthwhile. In the end, it’s what God thinks about you that is important. And He can open doors for you that you couldn’t imagine being opened. I was also looking at your comment above about bloggers and Instagramers with huge followings. I read somewhere that it can be just as beneficial to have a small but engaged following. In that small following, there can be such a great sense of community. I try to remind myself of that idea when I get caught up in the numbers game. It’s a process though.
    Monica afrotasticlady recently posted…March’s 6 Grateful Things ListMy Profile

    • Simone

      April 1, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Monica, remember when we were tweeting a few months back about identity?! I really wanted to make a video back then. Because I had applied to a writing fellowship at The Atlantic. The sting of that rejection was fresh, and in hindsight I was still trying to process it. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t write about it! God wasn’t done working on my heart. Monica, there is no such thing as a large or small rejection! Because, like you said, these are our babies. When you send it out into the world it’s a piece of you…and it’s tough when people say no. But, yes, God is teaching me some major things. And I can see growth from the way I handled rejection a few months ago, until now. All I can say is…Praise the Lord.

      From your keyboard to God’s ears, puleeeeze. I so believe what you said about the doors He can open. Since He didn’t open those New York doors, it wasn’t meant for me to walk through them. In the really nice note, the publisher told me I didn’t have a big enough platform… Thank you for the reminder about the sense of community, because it has been invaluable to find like-minded writers that love Jesus. And you are one of those people, Miss Monica!! Sending you a great big virtual hug.

  4. Simone, thanks for sharing about and encouraging us on this – deep, deep stuff. Been reflecting on ‘identity’ a lot lately, especially as I pick back up with writing, and ‘value’ closely tied therein. Who am I? What is my value? Recently sat across from a young lady at a crossroads in her life and encouraged her to ponder these essential of all questions, while quietly/inwardly urging/reminding myself to do the same…yet again. I recall from a podcast recently a pastor sharing the illustration of a child and a father, and upon the father picking up his child the pastor asked – was the child any more belonging to and loved by the father while being held? The answer was no, but nonetheless it was in the father’s embrace that the child most sensed the reality of the relationship that joined them. Oh that we would have this knowing at work in us (and through us!)

    As for your mom, I could testify this comments section into next week…but allow me to simply share that I remember meeting her for the first time years ago, a sullen girl exhausted with everything and everyone (including myself), looking for some sort of real life cntrl-alt-delete button to permanently scrap what seemed just too flawed for revision, and long story short, finding myself on her front porch sipping hot tea in her company, experiencing even the quiet between her words to be a kind of balm alleviating the hurt and clarifying the disillusionment within…and calling forth/inspiring wellness/wholeness from where I had somewhat given up looking for/expecting it to materialize. Remember going back home, literally, revived. In so many ways her mother’s heart/tending has blessed me and watered much into fruition. Please share with her my love and appreciation!

    • Simone

      April 2, 2016 at 12:26 am

      Candie, just like me and Monica, you and I have been talking about this too!

      I remember your story about meeting a friend in the grocery store. You were perfectly positioned to share with that young lady, because you had been pondering the same things. What a gift to be able to be such a messenger?! While, I’m typing this response the words spirit and life came to my mind. Here’s what John 6:63 says: It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. Just like that Father embracing his son, it is the spirit that reminds us of our identity in Him. I think because God is THE Creator He knows how much we struggle with worth…so like you explained–>> He wants us to sense the relationship and KNOW the power at work. Thank you SO much for sharing that with us here, Candie.

      Regarding my darling Mother, I cannot thank you enough for this. I will share it with her! She really is a gift to so many and I sometimes wonder why she can’t see it. But like Priscilla shared our enemy works HARD to magnify our insecurities…to keep us bound. And that’s the lesson I’m learning, I cannot let my insecurities keep me bound. My job is to do the work and leave the results up to Him.

      This is one of the verses I keep on my desk: For we are laborers together with God, ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. I Corinthians 3:9 It reminds me that, I am working with Him…and that I am not alone (even though writing can *feel* very solitary).

  5. PS – Regarding your path to publishing, perhaps editors don’t get the last say on that…looking forward to conventions confounded 😉

    • Simone

      April 2, 2016 at 12:33 am

      Saaaaay it, Sis. Saaay it. I have to say, I’m kinda excited to see how He works all of this out. Love you!

  6. Yess, I so remember that day we were tweeting. We were getting deep…hehe. I think it was around the time that one of my short stories was rejected. I’m still learning to not personalize rejection, but I appreciate everything you just shared on how God has helped you to process that pain. Amen to growth and new insights! Aww..thank you for the encouragement! Right back at ya! I’m giving you a virtual hug back! :)♡
    Monica afrotasticlady recently posted…Guest Blog Post: My Daily WeightsMy Profile

    • Simone

      April 3, 2016 at 1:48 am

      We were getting deep, Monica!!! I’m glad that you are sharing a few of your stories on your blog. I LOVE your dialogue and seeing how your characters wrestle with faith and the hard stuff life brings. So I say, amen to growth and insights too!

  7. Whew! Well said Simone, and deeply needed reminders and lessons. This theme is resonating out loud among so many of my incredibly intelligent and gifted sisters in Christ. In fact, I’ve just heard Matt Chandler’s sermon on women’s identity… And comparison and perfectionism were highlighted as the two main pitfalls to our walk. SO TRUE!

    Now… Moment of silence for Mama Margie… I am shaking my head right now. This battle must be real for us moms, if there is any possible moment that that beautiful, peaceful, extraordinarily wise and patient woman of God could have one doubt about her impact or value. I am not kidding when I say, at certain moments in mothering I have to consider… What would mama Margie do right now? And every time, it raises my “mothering” game. I’m sending huge hugs and lots of love to you for sharing… And to her for exemplifying humility, selflessness and maturity for us all.

    • Simone

      April 3, 2016 at 1:58 am

      Awhhh, thanks Linda! I really appreciate that. What you said about this theme is so SO true. It seems like everywhere I turn, look, or read someone is talking about or wrestling with identity. And I have never heard of Matt Chandler, but thank you for mentioning him. I just typed his name in Google and it looks like he speaks A LOT to challenges women face. I’m looking forward to listening to him. Perfectionism. Yes, it cripples us.

      Thank you for those sweet words about my mom. I’ll make sure she sees. But it’s interesting, though, as I’ve been thinking more and more about all I know my mother to be…it became even more evident just how crafty our enemy is. In my mind, and the mind of many others, my mom impact is without question. But the enemy is so good as trying to disconnect us from what God has ALREADY done with and through us. I’m going to start praying more intently that God will show my sisters (and me) WHO they are and WHAT He’s doing along side them. Each of us has an extraordinary mission and that was so SO evident from your blog post yesterday.

  8. Great tips! I’m learning I uniquely bear the image of the Creator in a way no one else on this planet does. There may be others who are similar to me but no one can fulfill my specific calling and purpose. Everything in our lives is tailor made for us to discover who we are to Christ. Community, family, jobs, etc…we are truly eternal beings and the natural is only a reflection of the eternal.

    • Simone

      April 3, 2016 at 2:01 am

      Nicole what you said here is key–>> “I uniquely bear the image of the Creator in a way no one else on this planet does.” With that at the forefront of our minds, competition should not even be on our radar…because what He’s crafted us to do is unique to each and everyone one of us. Thank you for sharing this…

  9. OMGoodness! No other word but AWESOME! So many truths being confirmed. Thanks my sister for sharing these powerful messages. Love ya! Nan

    • Simone

      April 5, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      All I can say is…Praise the Lord, Nan. It’s really been heavy on my heart, lately. And it seems like He’s really speaking and moving on this topic. Thank YOU for reading. Love you too, Nan.

  10. This is so inspirational. I’m learning that I’m right where I need to be and that I need to stop stressing, let go, and just trust God (and to stay in a constant state of gratitude). Great message, Simone.

    • Simone

      April 10, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Staying in a constant state of gratitude–that is an awesome addition to my identity tool kit, Quanie! And ‘I am where I need to be.’ I agree with that on so many levels, I just need to REMIND myself of the facts. I’m not behind! I have so many stories that prove that statement to be true. Thank you for sharing that and for reading.

  11. This is a beautiful, and very meaningful post. Thank you.

    • Simone

      April 11, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      Hi Cynthia! Thank you SO much for stopping by and for the kinds words. This creative journey is definitely a faith walk, and I’m learning to take it step by step. Peace and Blessings…Simone

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