There are 2 things that I love to do – teach and write. Apparently, they have always been passions and dreams. Not long ago, I came across a box of mementos that my mom kept. In it, were books that I wrote as a child, that she entered into the Young Authors’ contest in Illinois decades ago (not telling you how many though :).
Over the years, I have had opportunities to exercise my teaching gift, both in school and church classrooms. However, somewhere along the way, the dream of writing fell by the wayside – I’m not sure if it was life, survival, insecurity, or fear- probably a combination of them all. The dream didn’t die – it just sort of laid in a comatose state – waking periodically, temporarily, giving hope of survival or resuscitation, only to go dormant again.
Until recently. Recently the dream seems to be determined to live. So, I am determined to fight for it. I do not know what will come of it, but that isn’t my concern. My role is to do what I believe I am supposed to do, with the gifts God gave me to do them. Recently, I was reminded of a verse that I recited a lot when I taught school, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23). I haven’t been doing that lately- in any aspect of my life. I’ve given half-hearted efforts and then wondered why I’ve struggled.
But, back to dreams. Here’s what I’ve learned about pursuing dreams, not necessarily succeeding, because the results are unknown. However, one sure way to not see dreams realized, is by not pursuing them.
- You have to fight past the fear – For me, it was the fear of failure, criticism and not measuring up to my expectations.
- You need others to help realize them – People need people. Look at anyone who has accomplished things in life. They could not have done it without the help of others, often those silently working in the background – encouraging, giving advice, supporting.
- Listen – Follow the wise counsel of people who have gone before you, people who know and love you and have your best interests at heart. Accept compliments as encouragement, and constructive criticism as opportunities to grow.
- Be willing to take risks – You will not always make the right decisions. Some things will fail. A great idea may flop. You will be rejected. Which leads to the next one…
- Be ok with “no” and closed doors – I hate “no” and closed doors. It’s why I have hesitated to pursue things. But a guaranteed way to get a closed door, is by never knocking on it in the first place.
- Pray. For me, this is one of my biggest lessons. I can come up with some pretty interesting ideas. My ideas. And while they may sound great to me, they can be fruitless. I want to make a difference. I want to be content. I want to be at peace when my plans don’t work out as I planned (which is often the case).
I am able to do this when I realize that I am only responsible for what I can do. God handles the rest. And sometimes, He doesn’t answer the way I want. Sometimes, “When life is difficult and circumstances aren’t as I would like them, and I feel as though my prayers hit a reinforced concrete wall impenetrable by my pain or tears or pleading, that 17 year-old girl returns.” But, “In the darkest of moments God provided just enough light to keep us on the path.”
Those are quotes from one of the more recent risks that I took. Submitting to (in)courage, a daily devotional site for women. Every 3 months for one year, I set reminders on my phone to submit a post to them (they take submissions every 3 months). And, every 3 months, for one year, I would talk myself out of it. Until the last open session. I finally decided to take a risk, to take the advice of friends, to believe the compliments I had received, and to be ok with hearing “No”.
And, I wrote…
…and it was accepted!
So, tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22, I will have a featured post on (in)courage titled “The Day I Stopped Believing”
I cannot begin to tell you how excited, grateful and proud I am that for once I didn’t give into fear, that I listened to dear friends, and that I trusted God with the results. Please, come over tomorrow to incourage.me to celebrate with me.
While you are there, please sign up to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox www.incourage.me/subscribe.
Looking forward to seeing you.
Peace and blessings as you pursue your own dreams. Be encouraged.