Do you have a dream?
I’m not talking about hoping your newborn sleeps through the night or dreaming of the day your toddler finally goes in the potty. (Although those can be valid aspirations as well.)
I’m actually referring to your own personal hopes and dreams. Is there something you’ve always wanted to pursue, but are afraid to try? Maybe you’ve never even told anyone about your dream. That was the case for me.
It all began when my baby started kindergarten. After ten years of full-time motherhood, I had one basic question going through my head. Now what?
Should I get a job? Go back to college? My husband encouraged me to pursue something I felt passionate about.
Deep down, I knew my passion: writing. I was always writing something. Stories for my girls. Family Christmas letters. Articles for the church newsletter. But trying to get published? Now that scared me. What if I wasn’t good enough?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have an annoying voice inside my head that tries to discourage me. This time it said things like …
You? A writer? You don’t have anything to say. What if you step out to try this and then you fail?
So I tried to forget the whole silly idea. Until one Sunday morning when my pastor preached a message I couldn’t ignore.
The topic was “Pursuing Your Dreams.” He explained how we can miss what God has for us because we fear rejection and worry too much about what others think. He encouraged us to step out of our comfort zones and do what God has called us to do. Coincidence? I thought not. That morning I made the decision to go for it.
The first thing I did was head to the library. I started reading every book I could find on how to improve my craft. A few weeks later I worked up the courage to submit a few articles to various magazines. Then I got plenty of practice learning how to cope with rejection.
But I didn’t give up.
I attended my first writers’ conference. As I sat in the parking lot that first morning, I nearly chickened out. My annoying inner voice worked overtime.
What are you doing here? You’re not a real writer. Writing for the church newsletter doesn’t make you a writer.
But I ignored the voice and walked through those front doors anyway. And guess what? I absolutely loved it.
In time I joined a writers’ critique group and started my own personal blog. I surrounded myself with people that encouraged me – and ignored the ones that didn’t. Speaking of encouraging friends …
I remember one day when I met my friend, Grace, for lunch. She handed me a magazine and opened it to a particular page.
“Have you ever seen this?” she asked.
I quickly read the bold print: Tell Us Your Story! Win a week with us at the famous Guideposts Writers Workshop, all expenses paid! We’ll teach you all we know about inspirational writing, and your story could end up published in our magazine or websites.
I looked up at Grace. “Wow. Wouldn’t that be cool!” But my inner voice had already started jabbering.
Are you kidding? It’s Guideposts. They get thousands of entries. Your chances of winning are so slim …
Over the next few days I couldn’t get that contest out of my mind. After all, what did I have to lose? It wouldn’t hurt to submit something. I found an article I had previously written and rewrote it to the best of my ability. Then I held my breath and clicked “send.”
A few months later I was at home doing laundry when I got a phone call. I couldn’t believe it. I had actually won! I hung up the phone and immediately called my husband at work.
“Are you in a meeting because I really need to tell you something and it’ll only take a minute and if you have a minute I could just meet you in the parking lot.”
I’m sure he thought I had wrecked the van. Or took a pregnancy test.
Two months later Guideposts flew me and eleven other writers from across the country to Seattle, Washington for a five-day writers’ workshop. As a bonus, we got to meet bestselling author, Debbie Macomber. She talked with us about her own writing journey and encouraged us to keep reaching for our goals.
That was three years ago and I’ve had the privilege of writing many more stories for Guideposts Magazine.
Do you have a dream? Let me encourage you today. Roll up your sleeves and learn everything you can. Work hard. Surround yourself with people that encourage you. Tell that annoying voice to shut up. And don’t give up. After all, the only way you can truly fail is to quit trying.