Blogging,  Stress,  Writers Conference,  Writing

Navigating Conflicting Advice When Experts Disagree: Sifting Through Multiple Options to Find What God Wants

If you’re one of the 19 new friends from last weekend at Mount Hermon to join this blog party, welcome! If you’re a regular reader, let’s give a golf clap to the new people!

(tap, tap, tap)

This week I returned from the Vision Christian Writers Conference in the Redwoods where I taught two seminars, hosted a lunch table twice, took classes, and stayed mentally engaged for five days. I connected with young people, old people, beginning writers, professionals, semi-famous authors, and everyone in between.

And I only put my foot in my mouth once! Progress, friend. Tiiiiiny bits of progress. Of course, my faux pas made me want to crawl into my laptop bag and stay there until the conference ended, but I apologized and recovered. Mostly.

If you’ve ever attended a writers’ conference, you know how they can feel like a bit of an overwhelming colorful buffet. But how fulfilling (and entertaining) to hang with like-minded wordsmiths, book nerds, and scribblers alike! Pacing yourself, taking copious notes, and processing later is key.

So is caffeine.

Expert Contradictions

My tired mind can barely form coherent sentences today, but mixed with the brain fog sits dozens of fun, happy, memorable moments. And confusing ones too. Like when a successful author told me the unconventional devotional I’m working on was a great idea. 

On the contrary, a different professional told me I shouldn’t write a devotional first. They thought I should go with a regular nonfiction book, but write it with an author friend. 

Then a high-up person in the industry said to send in one of my children’s stories to be considered for book publication. Sounded great! And then a separate successful person said I should send it to a well-known magazine instead since it has a way higher readership than a book would. Hmm….

Top it off with a social media guru telling you to focus your energy on reels, and another expert telling you to drill down on ads.

And how exactly am I supposed to do all this while working full-time and ramping up my organizing biz, being present with my family, and entertaining a strong desire to sit and read?

More complicated questions arise: Who to trust? Who to believe? Who to follow? Simple answers surface: Jesus. All of them. A few.

Have you ever received conflicting advice?

  • Your adult son recommends using Grammarly to help ewe rite more better, but your daughter thinks AI is the best and only tool. Who’s right?
  • Your mom warns you of the potential fallout with a business venture, and your dad says you should take the plunge.
  • That church down the street sent you a snazzy flyer and comes highly recommended on Yelp, but your neighbor swears by the one on the other side of town. Who’s right?
  • Your teenager says you’d be more successful on social media if you didn’t wear those 90s outfits, but your teenager’s friend loves the way you dress.
  • One friend tells you to move to Georgia, the other reminds you about California weather. (To which I’d like to remind that first friend… our politics may stink, but they can change. Humidity and mosquitos are forever, pal.)

Knowing which suggestions to cling to and which ideas to let go of feels daunting. And exhausting. 

Eenie, Meenie, Miny… Whoa

I have no idea what catching a tiger by the toe has to do with making a decision, but here we are. (Unless it was a cheetah. Then that would make way more sense. Or in Spanish… pito, pito, gorgorito…)

Did I mention I’m tired?

Sometimes my mind’s too full and too taxed to effectively sift through the options. That’s where solid Christian friends and their prayers come in. Out of all the advice I got at the conference, the one voice that resonated the most was my friend who listened to all the options, added her two pesos, and said, “I’ll be praying for clarity for you.”

And then it hit me. I’m not praying about all these directions, I’m only stressing about them. Does God truly care if I go for a book deal or a magazine article? Self-published or traditional?

What about you? Does He care if you stay at your job or get another one? If you learn French or focus on Spanish? With all the injustices in the world, smaller decisions seem like they wouldn’t matter in His eyes.

But I think they do. He wants to know our hearts, aspirations, and hopes. Just because they’re small in our minds doesn’t mean they’re not significant. Check out this easy-to-understand translation of James 1:5-8 from The Message Bible:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

I clearly don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m praying. Are you praying about your options? Not solely about what the best idea might be to benefit you, but what God wants? Sadly, I tend to forget this part. Sometimes my prayers revolve around asking God for an answer to a problem, but if I truly desire to know what He wants in my life I should probably ask.  

When have you been given conflicting advice? How did you decide what to do? Share your story below in the comments!

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  • Janet

    Great post. We share a boat, and I’m a tad bit comforted knowing we are. (Not wishing on you the conundrum.) I’m learning to ask the ONE who has my back, then research, ask again. Taking that first step or two is a good indicator what’s right, wrong, or should be in the “wait a while” folder!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Yep, exactly. Not necessarily a super fun place to be, but I’m trying to reframe the conundrum and remind myself it’s a good problem. I’m a writer with ideas and options; no complaining, Carrie!

  • Nicole

    I was wondering where you were going with this article. I let out a big sigh of relief when you didn’t have “the answer” but then you totally did! Oh friend, I’m praying for us both.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Lest you think I have ANY answers to anything, let me assure you I don’t. 🙂 As a fellow writer though, you get it… so many options, so little money. haha

  • Janet McHenry

    Carrie, I’m the lone weirdo writer who often advises, “Stop writing.” I believe writers can save a lot of time by learning the form first. THEN write. So there’s another one.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Good point, Janet. My problem tends to lean toward the opposite. Mix a little perfectionism with the fear of failure and you’ve got a writer who keeps taking classes, reading, and learning instead of just getting to the business of writing. Time is not on my side at this point, but I have finally acknowledged that I don’t need to keep learning more more more before I write. Learning is infinite, but I don’t want to die with a million stories in my head. If only I didn’t have to go to work every day. Haha.

  • Ron Vom Steeg

    Hey Carrie.. this is a good keeper encouragement….
    This came from one of my Bible study lessons…
    “Even after God gave Balaam a clear no, Balaam kept pressing. And it all went downhill from there. (Numbers 22:1-21)What are you asking God for? If you know that it is within God’s will, then keep asking and don’t give up. (Matthew 7:7) but if you SENSE that it may not be God’s will for you, then hit pause. Is it hard for you to open your hands to God and desire his will more than your own? “

    • Carrie Talbott

      Good words. Thanks for the encouragement, Ron. I’m continuing to ask and not give up. 🙂

    • Carrie Talbott

      Very kind of you, Kimber, thanks. Buuuut… doing it all would entail no sleep, no cooking, no pilates, and no social life. So I’m taking baby steps and narrowing things down. Thanks for reading and for your encouragement–I appreciate you!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Gracias, amiga. That’s what I love about your writing too! Thanks for stopping by and chiming in.

  • Lydia Thompson

    My friend. I LOVE reading your blogs. Thank you for faithfully putting yourself out there. You are a light, and I have always known that about you.

    Conflicting messages are so difficult. Especially from folks we admire, trust, and even love. Folks who have “made it” and really do have wisdom to impart. Ultimately, we have to follow Holy Spirit. Even if we zigged when we should have zagged, He lovingly corrects our paths. Go for it. Whatever “It” is in the moment, God sees us, knows our hearts, cares about what and who we love, and is confident He can build His kingdom and touch the lost and broken souls through submitted hearts such as yours.

    I often feel like my prayers are, “wind whipped waves” even undeserving of a casual listen, but He is listening, because He sees me, knows me, and loves me. He will guide you. You are in the right place at the right time and making a difference in lives.

    I felt a lot of conflicting messages at Mt Hermon Writer’s Conferences, but most importantly, I felt God’s love and interest in my life regardless of my accomplihments/successes. You encouraged me greatly and the love of God is in you. Let it shine… no matter what.
    Lydia T.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Gahhh! Lydia, you are a gem. Thank you for your kind words. I was not looking for a compliment, but I am grateful for the way you express yourself and make me feel seen and loved. I always hope you’ll come back to the conference again someday! So glad you feel God’s love at Mount Hermon; that’s the most important thing! Thanks for the encouragement, friend. Miss you!