“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston Churchill
I’ve had this post saved for the last several years. It’s been in the back of my mind and literally hovering at the bottom of my unpublished blog roll for that long. I’ve known this day was coming, but it was always “out there”. It was a dream – something I desperately wanted but couldn’t grasp. Even as I stretched out my fingertips, I just couldn’t… quite… reach it. Until now.
Today, I’m walking away so I can grab hold of the dream with two hands.
I’ve spent fifteen amazing years in Corporate America, learning from some of the best leaders and professionals that my Fortune 100 company had to offer. I found myself in a promising career with a great, steady salary. I had the opportunity to travel, to develop my writing skill as a Communications Consultant and Instructional Designer, and had the opportunity to work alongside leading industry executives on a daily basis. Everything was perfect, and I could have stayed (and been happy) there for the rest of my career. Except – and this is a big, scary, heart-pounding all-caps EXCEPT – it wasn’t my dream. I am so very grateful for the opportunity, but it wasn’t my dream. I could learn, and grow, and like my job – but it still wasn’t my dream. (See a trend developing?)
Without living my dream, I knew I’d never be happy.
To put it in perspective: We have three children. Tuition and daycare payments. A mortgage. Bills. We do like to eat. We have a comfortable life with church, family and friends, and jobs that get the best of us Monday-Friday. And we’ve been happy with that for some time. So when I tell you that walking away is a HUGE risk for us – I can’t state it enough. We have all of these responsibilities swirling around us and they will continue to be a part of our lives. But what’s bigger, what’s giving us that “Umph!” to get up and go take a flying leap off that faith mountain… We’ve got GOD, and He makes every bit of the difference.
Want to step out and really live your dream too? Here’s how:
1.) Stop focusing on the storm. On a business trip several months back, I sat on a plane ride late at night. It was storming outside and I recall thinking that it mirrored my inner turmoil. I had this dream I wanted to go live, but I just couldn’t get my eyes off the reasons why I couldn’t do it. I was so focused on the crackles of lightning that lit the clouds orange, that I’d nearly missed the sight of my home city as it came into view. When the plane descended and the clouds finally broke apart, I was awed by the loveliness of home, all lit up by thousands of twinkling lights. I can’t believe I’d almost missed that beautiful sight! Why? I was focused on the storm. I’d kept my eyes trained on the circumstances instead of where they should have been – on the God who can do anything.
STEP #1: Fix your eyes on Jesus – nothing and no one else. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
2.) Plan. Yes, plan – then leap! My husband and I hoped. And dreamed. We spent time on our knees in prayer and talked financial scenarios until we were blue in the face. But nothing would ever happen until we finally said my husband’s famous words, “Let’s do it!” You can plan for years – whether you want to open a coffee shop, teach at an international school, start a charity for underprivileged children, embark on a brand new career… Whatever your dream is, it won’t come true unless you put some action to it. Leap! It’s scary, I know. But do it anyway. Leap! Give up the status quo for something that could be status-amazing! You’ll never know what might have been unless you try today.
STEP #2: Have courage and leap – He’ll catch you! (Joshua 1:9)
3.) Live the life you have imagined. You’re only going to get one of those on this earth. One life. One opportunity to live out what God’s etched on your heart. You may have to sacrifice. (We’ll be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a while…) You may not know where you next step will be. You may be totally vulnerable and exposed. If that’s the case – GOOD. You’ll be totally dependent on Him. You’ll have surrendered everything in exchange for living the life you know, deep down in that spirit of yours, that you always wanted to live. You can’t have a back-up plan when you’re living a dream.
Step #3: Cut the safety net. Oust the back-up plan. Instead, know that He’s got it covered. (Jeremiah 29:11)
4.) Praise Him! Regardless of the circumstances, Praise Him! Our joy is not determined by how much money we make, how many degrees we stack up, or the size of our home. We’re not ruled by having a good day at the office or a bad one. Our age, beauty, prestige, bank account, or accomplishments mean little if we’re miserable in the day-to-day. Are arrows of doubt going to hit? Yes. Are we still going to have storms? Absolutely. But if losing my Dad to cancer and walking away from the career I’ve had for fifteen years has taught me anything, it’s that I will praise Him through it all. At a graveside? It hurts like wildfire, but I will praise Him. At home? Praise Him. In the midst of a fearful new journey? Praise Him. He’s never going to leave you, never going to let your joy be stolen. And that’s the difference! “Happy” comes from circumstances – JOY comes from Him.
Step #4: Walk with the knowledge that you are cherished. Valued. A hemmed-in Child of the Most High. Praise Him like never before. (Psalm 139)
If you’re stepping out today, I applaud you! (I’m over here tightening the laces on my shoes too.) I’m excited, scared out of my socks, joyful, and feeling true freedom for the first time in my life. My prayer for you today is that if these words have whispered anything to your heart – listen to them. Don’t waste any more time. Put on your shoes and go chase your dreams!
I can’t wait to hear from you. I’d love to know:
What’s your dream? -and- What are you going to do to make it happen?
Now that I’m a full-time author, look over… I’ll be out there running with you.