When You Pursue Your Dreams and Fail

BOY SUNFLOWER FIELD

We tend to pursue our dreams in secret, don’t we?

We tip-toe toward them in our fuzzy slippers and robes during the darkest hours, daring not to make a sound as if we don’t want to wake up the dream slayers — the fears and doubts and uncertainties that are deaf but know we’re coming anyway.

We whisper our dreams softly, don’t we?

It’s almost impossible to hear them ourselves and it’s easy to forget we ever uttered them at all. Instead of living them out loud, we tuck them into our books at night and they sit on our nightstand collecting dust until it’s time to read again, then fall asleep again, then dream again.

Why are we so quiet about having dreams, or speaking dreams or pursuing dreams? Can I share something with you?

I’m tired of whispering my dreams.

Not many people know this, but in the past nine months I’ve had an amazing publisher interested in my book — a book that has been a dream of mine for six years. It passed Acquisitions Committee and then went to Publications Board twice. After the second time, they finally settled on a no.

I’ve been sitting with that no for a couple of weeks now, and honestly I’m okay with the answer. But what I’m not okay with is how I’ve handled the process of this dream.

Because I never told more than a handful of people what was happening during the entire nine months. Somewhere along the way in my life, I’ve believed that in order to have a dream you have to keep it quiet until it comes to pass. Like there’s some superstitious jinx on sharing it that will prevent it from becoming a reality.

But you know what the consequence is for pursuing dreams so fearfully and quietly? We lose dreamers. (tweet) We stop teaching others that regardless of the outcome, it’s healthy to dream. And most importantly, we lose the opportunity to show others how to trust Jesus, even when we pursue our dreams and “fail.”

From the world’s point of view, I have failed in reaching my dream. By not getting a book deal, I can easily become convinced that dream has died and that I need to pursue a more “realistic” dream.

But can I tell you something?

I think I actually succeeded. Because every other time in my life when I’ve been faced with rejection, I’ve allowed it to break me. I’ve taken it personally and let it dictate who I am and what I’m worth. And you know what? This was the first time in my life I didn’t do that.

Can I tell you something else?

Over the past nine months, I wasn’t sure if I wanted God’s will for my life more than I wanted this book. I quite honestly had a very, very hard time separating the two, and it became my constant prayer that the book wasn’t becoming an idol. I wasn’t sure where my heart truly stood on the matter.

And you know what else?

While I’m still saddened and disappointed by this loss, my peace and trust in my Lord has not wavered. Even for a second. I know and trust — even when I cannot see — that He has a plan for me and my life. And I know now, by that nonsensical yet supernatural peace, that I do want His will more than a book.

And my most favorite thing of all?

Through this my daughter has gotten to see that we don’t always succeed in everything we set out to do. That sometimes we can reach out and touch our dreams for a split second, but they can still slip out of our fingers in an instant — but that doesn’t stop our dreaming. It just makes us press in and work harder and believe God more. I am proud that she got to see me cry and mourn, but that I can put my hope in Jesus — the Dream Maker — and not just the dream itself.

Because “we are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” (Romans 8:28, The Voice, emphasis mine).

So in the end, I think I won.

Why would I stay silent about that kind of success?

I think from now on I’m going to live my dreams out loud instead of tip-toeing toward them in my fuzzy slippers and robe. Not because I’m seeking attention or accolades for myself, but because I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to spur another on in victory. And maybe if we all saw each other courageously pursuing dreams — regardless of the outcome — we’d find the courage to pursue more of ours, too.

So here’s to beating the drum and marching loudly in the dream parade — eyes on the Conductor as He orchestrates everything to work toward beautiful and good things.

Note: This is not a post where I’m searching for affirmation or encouragement or assurances that my book will get published some day. Just wanted to encourage you, my friends, to look toward the sun and find your dreams and pursue them loudly.

What about you? Do you have any dreams you want to live out loud? Please share — let’s encourage each other to wildly dream and love the Dream Giver.

MDS-SIG-01

A New Normal

MIKE PHOTO-DREAM-01

I’m reading Holley Gerth‘s new book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for YouEvery single page is highlighted. I can’t devour it fast enough.

The other day I read the chapter on the disclaimers about God-sized dreams once they come to fruition — disclaimers like you’ll never feel ready. You won’t like your dream sometimes. You’ll feel alone at times.

And then the disclaimer that leapt off the page and has shaken my shoulders and has been riding piggy-back since I read it:

ONE DAY THIS DREAM WILL BE YOUR NEW NORMAL.

Those words have rolled around my brain like marbles caught in the dryer, making noise and banging against every corner of my thoughts. And as I ponder that one sentence, God brings to my mind the past God-sized dreams I’ve had and how they are now my new normal.

  • The husband I didn’t feel I deserved.
  • The daughter who has blessed my socks off and is growing in grace and wisdom.
  • The son I waited two miscarriages and years to have.
  • The job that gives my husband freedom to work in his giftings and succeed.
  • Friendships that edify, encourage and build me up…not tear me down.
  • A household of peace and laughter and freedom to fail.

Each of these were a mustard seed of a God-sized dream long before they became my new normal. They were passing thoughts at first. Then they became prayers. And then blossomed into full-fledged dreams.

And now, with another God-sized dream becoming clearer and getting a little closer, it scares me in the best possible way that it might one day be my new normal, too.

The weight of it pressing in on me is strangely comforting like a heavy wool blanket on a cold night….hearing Him whisper to get ready…feeling an incredibly calm peace yet not understanding it at all…it makes me shake in fear and leap for joy all at the same time.

One day this dream will be my new normal.

I know this current God-sized dream might look different when it comes to pass than I originally thought, and that’s okay. My husband and my family and my friendships have all turned out differently than I once believed they would. In the best possible way, they are different than I thought they would be.

And God, in His infinite love, made them perfect for me.

  • My husband is everything I wanted and also everything I had no idea I needed.
  • My daughter challenges everything I thought I knew about parenting, and makes me a better mom.
  • My son brings so much joy and laughter after years of pain and tears.
  • My husband has the confidence and courage to pursue God-sized dreams of his own.
  • My core friends don’t live nearby and I see them very irregularly, but the residue of our conversations and time together linger with me for weeks and months until we see each other again
  • The chaos and messiness of my house is what brings the peace and laughter, and the freedom to fail also brings freedom to succeed.

No, it’s not what I expected. But I suddenly could never imagine any of those dreams being any different than exactly how they are right now.

One day this dream will be my new normal.

The funny thing about our dreams is that while you’re dreaming them, nothing seems as big as that dream at that time. Praying and waiting for a husband is Everything. Having children is a soul ache. Strong friendships are a desperate plea not to drown alone.

And then one day they’re just a normal part of your life. Isn’t that the weirdest thing ever?

Because as long as I’ve been waiting for this current God-sized dream to come to pass (six years and counting)…at some point, it will become a distant dream added to the list, and a new God-sized dream will take its place.

It really is the weirdest and holiest thing ever — standing on the edge of a God-sized dream and peering down into it, it seems as big as the Grand Canyon and impossible to cross over.

Then one day you simply check it off the list and move on.

How can you imagine moving on when you’re standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon?

But it happens.

Because each dream God gives is simply a stepping stone to a bigger dream. (tweet) And once in a while He reminds you to look back and you see that the two of you — God and you — have built a bridge and you’re already halfway across that canyon.

One day this dream will be my new normal.

What God-sized dreams have you staring into the vastness right now? What dreams seem impossible? Don’t lose heart, or give up hope, or give up at all.

Keep standing there on the edge. Look back every once in a while and remember the stepping stones that have brought you to your current dream.

And soon you’ll see the bridge, spanning across a magnificent landscape.

ONE DAY THIS DREAM WILL BE YOUR NEW NORMAL.

MDS-SIG-01

Five Minute Friday #32 – DIVE

I link up with Lisa-Jo on Fridays for a writing flash mob…throwing caution to the wind and gathering to share what a few minutes of free writing can buy. 

Today’s topic: DIVE

Raised arms woman

GO.

I stand at the edge and peek over and see the reflection of her. She’s strong and confident and gentle and wise and loves Jesus with her whole heart. She sets goals and reaches them and she doesn’t get lazy or self-sabotage herself. She taunts me unintentionally just by being her and me just being me.

It’s the pattern of my almost-40 years. Get close…so close to the person I see in my mind’s eye, the person who I’m dying inside to be but get close enough to the edge but then cannot will myself to go over. The fear comforts like an child’s old blanket and I look at her and whisper someday and then turn and walk away with my blanket wrapped tightly around my shoulders keeping hidden from the Me I’m meant to be.

He asks me regularly if I’m going to have the courage to live a life true to myself or the life I think others expect of me. And he texted it to me the other day for me to read over and over in black and white. My husband sees her too and even though he’s in love with me he sees how much I desire her and it kills him. Kills him that I can’t just dive in and let the waters wash way my blanket of fear and allow myself to float in the peace of God’s unknown. What started out as silly joking about his white shirts turned into an hour-long conversation with me in tears wondering why I can’t just dive in.

I erase goals from my lists because it’s easier to not see them than to see I didn’t reach them. There are dreams I stare at from across the room and admire the ladder that reaches them. And then I walk away and instead pursue the mundane because it’s easier and less work and less failure and less success.

But each time I walk away, it leads me right back to the edge where I peek over and see the reflection of her. And she’s strong and confident and gentle and wise and loves Jesus with her whole heart. And then I see she’s not perfect, not in the least. But she walks in peace instead of fear. And regardless of failures or successes or work or difficulty she floats in the pool of peace.

And it’s then I realize the pool is made up of the tears I’ve shed wanting so much to be who she I made to be. And it’s made up of tears she’s shed, sad that I’m still afraid to swim.

And it’s made up of tears God has shed watching me self-loathe and decide I’m not worth it.

It’s time to drop the blanket of fear and shout today is the day! and dive in. (<= Tweet that)

STOP.

Five Minute Friday #31 – OPPORTUNITY

I link up with Lisa-Jo on Fridays for a writing flash mob…throwing caution to the wind and gathering to share what a few minutes of free writing can buy. (And after missing quite a few, I am so ready to be back to this!)

Today’s topic: OPPORTUNITY

Pencil in book

GO.

I open the journal and inhale its pristine pages deeply. The lines are clean and light and perfectly spaced, and my pencil (always in pencil) is poised, ready to write whatever I bid it to write.

The first words are always the hardest. They set the tone and the pace and the method and the tone for the rest of the pages and I always begin a new one with a mixed sense of eager anticipation and intense pressure. I feel like I owe so much to those clean lines that are light and perfectly spaced. They deserve fluid and concrete thoughts that are written in perfect penmanship in that pencil. Always pencil.

As I write my dreams and hopes and goals for this year, I hold them loosely, like a balloon tied around my wrist, with the knowledge they can float away at any time if The Dream Maker bids them to go. Maybe that’s why I always write in pencil…for Him to know I’m not tethered to them unswervingly. That I’m willing to change direction should He need me to. That my thoughts are just that…thoughts. I am not beholden to them. They are beholden to me.

The past 12 months proved more challenging, more exciting, and more surprising than I expected on that first day of the year…as I opened the journal and inhaled its pristine pages deeply. It proved to be a year of coming face-to-face with my own faults, dreams, aspirations and shortcomings. And as I reflect on what was written on those clean and perfectly spaced lines just 52 weeks ago, I’m so grateful that I wrote with something erasable. Changeable. Because God had His way in my year. He took my penciled-in plans and rewrote the story His way. It was harder and more difficult and required more of me. But it was also clearer and more definitive and more focused.

So I bid my pencil to write my unbeholden thoughts for 2013 and release the tether and watch them fly away to divine opportunity. (<= click to tweet this)

STOP.

Five Minute Friday #27 – RACE

I link up with Lisa-Jo on Fridays for a writing flash mob…throwing caution to the wind and gathering to share what a few minutes of free writing can buy.

Today’s topic: RACE

GO.

I worry from time to time that my dreams are going to fly away from me like a balloon that escapes a child’s wrist. Without awareness that the tie was loosening and then unexpectedly and suddenly it slips off and flies just high enough for me to be unable to grab it and I watch it ease higher and higher and higher until I can’t see it anymore.

I worry that’s going to happen to my dreams.

I worry that if I take too long to act or wait too long to pray then God’s going to find someone else who can be more responsible with the balloon and not let it go. So I race and get ahead of myself and perhaps, at times, grab balloons that aren’t mine to hold in a desperate attempt to at least be holding a balloon…some balloon…any balloon.

I worry that it’s one big cosmic competition — that if I don’t get my idea out there now, right this second, rushing things that aren’t mine to rush, that God won’t protect it and someone else will claim it as theirs. So I hold balloons emblazoned with Impatience and Fear and Inadequacy and I double-knot them so they can’t escape. So much so that the dream itself loses air, deflates and disappears.

I worry that’s going to happen to my dreams.

I need to take a large sharp pin and pop those balloons that lie to me so they can’t fly away and then come back again someday. And I need to keep my dreams tied around my wrist — tight enough so they won’t flee without warning, but loose enough that if the Dream Maker asks me to let go of them I can. And until it either comes true or I’m asked to let it go, I need to keep it inflated with prayer and hope and faith, so when it’s time to fly away with my balloon, I can.

STOP.