In January, I was in the throes of writing a nonfiction Christian book proposal to submit to a writing program. In the midst of the process, I ran out of pages in my prayer journal and decided I needed to buy a new one. Not that I don’t have several journals just waiting in reserve for my use. This time, though, I felt I needed a new one that somehow spoke to me, to keep me going, to help me stay on task. Some people may not think a journal can do all of that, but a beautiful or even quirky journal can be a bit magical in my opinion. So, when I visited my favorite boutique, I searched high and low for a meaningful journal. I finally found the perfect one with “stay focused darling” written on the front in script. The Dayna Lee Collection journal continued its inspiring message on the inside cover, “I look forward to holding any thoughts, dreams, goals, brilliant ideas, and amazing moments because you got this!” I felt like I found the journal that would encourage me to keep pursuing my goal regarding the book proposal.
I submitted my proposal, but in February, I found out my submission didn’t make it past the first round and also that my book idea that formed the basis of the proposal was lacking in many ways in the eyes of one of the editors. I was disappointed and sad. I’d thought I was doing what I was supposed to do, what God wanted me to do, and now I felt unmoored. Was I supposed to keep working on the same book idea? Was I supposed to go in a different direction? Had I deluded myself throughout the entire process? I was confused and frustrated.
I found myself staring at the cover of my journal wondering if I’d picked incorrectly with respect to both the journal and the book idea. “Stay focused darling” almost seemed like a taunt now. Stay focused on what exactly? I also asked God these questions as I wrote in the journal. Slowly, it dawned on me that maybe the focus I needed to maintain was not on a particular writing project but rather on God. I often read a framed scripture that we inherited from my husband Ben’s grandmother, which says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” Isaiah 26:3 (KJV). Another translation of the verse says, “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet because they keep at it and don’t quit.” Isaiah 26:3 (MSG).
Honestly, I’ve not worked through all of my difficult emotions surrounding my writing yet and don’t know which way I will go with my project. Perhaps the most important thing for me to remember though is to keep my mind on God. If I continue to look to God for comfort and guidance, God will help me remain stable and balanced when confusion threatens to cloud my mind. The same holds true for all of us. God wants each of us to keep our thoughts on God. I imagine God saying, “It’s going to be okay. Keep your eyes on me and stay focused darling.”