A Word of Encouragement

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by Suzanne D. Williams

(1 Thessalonians 5:14-15) We exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, be patient toward all.  (15)  See that no one returns evil for evil to anyone, but always follow after that which is good, for one another, and for all. (World English Bible)

(Romans 14:13) We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone’s faith. (Contemporary English Version)

(Romans 14:19) We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith. (Contemporary English Version)

I was thinking about book reviews when I started this topic and realized it expands into every area of our lives. Being specific, and contrary to what people think, book reviews are supposed to be an encouragement to the author, as well as information for buyers. They should be balanced and written fairly. They AREN’T a chance to body slam anyone or, as I’ve seen, horribly, to be used to punish the writer.

For one reason. Opinions can be, and often are, wrong. Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s correct. By their very nature opinions are fickle. They are subject to many factors in our days – if our job went well, if our kids are successful, if our health is where it should be – as well as the circumstances we’ve gone through growing up or with our marital status, and especially, our likes and dislikes. They are, like our emotions, always rising and falling. Books I read years ago and loved, in my adulthood, I don’t care for anymore. My opinions on them have changed. I can say that about food or fashion as well. I don’t want to dress like I did in 1985. I also eat things now that I didn’t when I was young.

Taking all of that into account, our words can justify, or they can condemn, as the Scripture says. (Mt 12:37) No one changes how they are by being bashed over the head. They are more apt to give up entirely or permanently dig in their feet. Realizing one is on the wrong path and making a positive change – whether its in life or writing a book – takes self-study and lots of humility. It takes the support of others, who, whether they agree or not, will stand by you.

Here’s how I heard it phrased. The Holy Spirit CONVICTS us. He doesn’t CONDEMN us. (Rm 8:1) There’s a huge difference, and our behavior as Christians, as people, should follow suit.

I grew up in the wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap, stand-in-the-corner, eat-what’s-set-before-you generation. I’ve choked down liver and Zest and drawn mental figures on the wallpaper more times than I can count. I’ve learned that my mouth can get me in big trouble. I tend to blow up first and regret it later. I’ve also seen what I’ve said hurt others and wished, with everything in me, I could take it back.

The fact is, no two people agree 100% on everything. Two of my best friends will tell you we frequently stand at odds over subjects. BUT knowing we can’t see eye-to-eye, we choose to build each other up. I want them to be happy, to be prosperous, and at peace. And that’s the thing – speaking kind, positive words is a choice. I swallow what I could say and speak what God would say instead. I pray for God to talk to them and for them to hear it. I pray for myself to see clearer, to stretch myself further, to grow and become a better woman, mother, friend.

Looking back at my chosen profession, if you’re a writer and struggling for any reason, here’s the truth – what one person hates about my stories, another person loves. When a reader misunderstands my intent and condemns me for it, it galls me to no end. There are days I can’t write, overwhelmed by someone’s incorrect opinion. Regardless, even then, I’m sure of one thing – I can’t change and be anyone else. I am the voice I’ve created, one formed by my experiences, my environment, my opinions, and that’s okay.

I will not let people alter how I write but will grow better at it instead. People are free to disagree. Chances are it won’t alter anything, especially my determination.

I speak an encouraging word to you today – You CAN complete that novel, and someone will LOVE your style. If you’re currently frustrated over a scene, a review, sales, or marketing … whatever. It’ll work itself out. Take a breather, gather your friends around you, then with a clear head, try again.

How you write, your voice, is unique. No one else can be you, and that’s pretty awesome.

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God, Girls & Cowboys 

About The Author:

Suzanne D. WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit www.feelgoodromance.com or link with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at twitter.com/SDWAuthor.

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