Conferences can be pretty emotional for some people, so the prayer room at ACFW stays busy. There are volunteers in the softly lit room during the day to pray with people or if someone wants to pray by themselves, they can go there for a little peace and quiet or just to regroup.
(Reminds me of the 7 or 8 churches on the ten mile stretch on the road that runs in front of my house. Something to think about, hmmm?)
What are some reasons people need a shoulder to cry on or an understanding friend at conferences? Writing conferences aren’t just reunions, they’re business meetings. Attendees want to make a good impression because they’re meeting with industry professionals to talk about books, stories, contracts.
If you’ve ever had a job interview, this should make perfect sense to you.
Some people have been reaching for the brass ring of publishing for many years. I know of people who have written 10, 20, and 30 manuscripts over a period of 20 or 25 years and they're still trying to break in. Some are on the verge of giving up when they finally sell their first manuscript. That adds up to a lot of people who are anxious and excited and afraid at the same time. They’ve faced a ton of interviews. No wonder they get a little sick to their stomach at the thought of another one!
Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wheresoever you go.”
Several years ago a lady had a major meltdown a couple of days into the conference. Some of it stemmed from problems she and her family faced at home: Problems that had been escalating over a period of years. They’d endured one financial disaster after another. In a last ditch effort to provide for his family, they moved to a different state where they knew no one so her husband would have a better chance at landing his dream job, only to have that door slammed in his face.
A group of friends prayed for her, but for the longest time, she was silent and didn't show any emotion whatsoever. Every once in awhile, she'd say that she couldn't take it anymore, that everyone kept saying that this was a trial and she would come out stronger in the end. But that just seemed like a slap in the face when she felt so defeated. Every time she thought things were getting better, she'd be handed something and have it snatched back.
When someone is going through a struggle, what can we say? How should we say it? I didn't know what to say to help her. All I could do was pray with the others. But by having understanding friends who prayed for her, and lifted her up, she began climbing out of the dark place that held her captive. She sought God again, and he helped her in her darkest hour.
1 John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
Some of us who prayed for her were going through some tough times ourselves. One lady had some serious health issues, another faced financial woes, another worried about her children. But that didn’t stop us from offering comfort and encouragement to the one most in need at that moment. So focusing on others instead of our own problems and pain can help us to feel better ourselves.
Another friend had experienced rejection from publishing houses. She was tired and feeling defeated and thinking that maybe she would never be a published author. At the time, she was a finalist in one of the unpublished categories of a contest and to others, might have seemed like she had it all together. But she still felt like she’d never become a published author, and see tangible fruit from her labor. She hoped to just meet someone who would lift her spirits and say something that would encourage her. At one conference, a woman she barely knew asked if she could pray with her and said to send someone to lift her up, and speak words of encouragement to her….words similar to what my friend had prayed for herself but hadn’t told anybody else.
Isn’t that just like God?
Another friend stated that she spent the months after receiving her first contract, "convinced they would figure out they'd made a mistake!"
This was said partly in fun, but there is a grain of truth to her worry that maybe it was all a mistake. Sometimes we have to accept God’s perfect will in his perfect time. Easier said than done, I know. But we really don’t have a choice, do we?
And, yes, the friends I've mentioned here are all multi-published authors now. They’re all wonderful storytellers who worked hard at perfecting their craft, but you what they did that was even more important? They met God in His place.
Sounds like the perfect interview to me.