“But it’s just not that easy,” we say. “To wake up one day, throw caution to the wind and step out into a completely different life — even if it IS the life we’ve always dreamed of.”
I love stories.
They’ve held me captive from five years old – through animation, film, novels, art history books… you name it. Always carrying my heart away to a world with no restrictions. That’s my world of dreams. One I could always tap into when the going got tough.
But as lovely as they are… “Stories don’t pay the bills”.
That’s what I kept telling myself. It was my crowning excuse. Other people get to live their dreams. Maybe the blessed or the talented. But not me. And I’d think about that while stuck in rush hour traffic, day in and day out, going to a job I could do but could never love.
I’d think about it while sitting in my downtown office cubicle. I’d dream while cleaning out my work email, making copies, attending meetings – even while I read books on my lunch hour. I worked hard. I wanted to have integrity and be good to my employer, even though there was always the “What if?” in the back of my mind.
What if… I was brave?
What if… I stopped dreaming and finally did something instead?
What if… I stopped making excuses for not trying?
What if… I risked everything?
What in the world would happen if I finally woke up one morning with “ENOUGH!” on my lips, and stepped out to chase the life God had placed on my heart? There are (2) questions to ask in that moment – and one of them is far more important than the other:
“If I could do absolutely anything with my life – what would it be?”
Have you ever asked yourself this question?
I did in 2001. And 2004. And again in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. I asked it often. Many times per day. And I always had an answer. Within a millisecond, I could go into a rehearsed speech about how I loved stories and if I could do anything, it would be to live my life telling them. That this introvert dreamed of becoming an author. And a speaker. And of telling stories that uplifted the name of Christ for the rest of my life.
It’s all I’ve wanted to do.
And as 2010 ticked over to 2011 and beyond, I felt a growing restlessness in my spirit every morning. Because I knew I was out of His will. I was wasting time. Years fading. I was waking up, day after day, season after season… And I was losing my dream.
Maybe I wasn’t brave. Maybe the adult worries of home and wonderful husband and three sweet kids and stacks of bills and endless responsibilities loomed larger in my mind, and they overshadowed my dreams. Maybe… just maybe… the reason why I hadn’t been brave enough to chase them is because when you boil it down – I was scared.
And here’s why Question #2 is the one we should be asking far more than Question #1:
“What am I willing to risk?”
Am I willing to give up the comforts I now enjoy?
A secure salary?
An ordered life?
Am I willing to lay down my pride (if I fail), my dreams (if I start the chase), my long list of wants and surrender my everything? Because Question #1 always has an answer. Question #1 is never the problem. It’s Question #2 that is really begging for the answer and it’s usually not the one we want to hear.
I meet dreamers often who tell me they’ve always wanted to write a book (or become a musician or speaker or travel the world…) I offer to have coffee with them. We sit down. I listen. Their stories are incredible! They’re excited. Smiling. Dreaming along with me! And when I begin to tell them about the journey our family has been on – about the risks and terrifying moments and hard work and lack of sleep and tears along the way – the flame starts to dim a little in their eyes.
Most of the time, I don’t hear from them again. It’s years later now and I remember what they told me, but they didn’t pursue their dream. And I’ve always felt sad about it. Because I saw how that moment of living in Question #1 made them feel, and it was beautiful to witness! But Question #2 was too much. It loomed over the dream of Question #1 and won that round.
It’s not easy to risk. I know. It’s likely the scariest thing we’ll ever do. But I’m also a dreamer. I visited a school full of K-5th grade students yesterday and I saw the dreams flicker bright in their eyes! I had to speak the truth:
“GO CHASE YOUR DREAMS! Never be too afraid to live the life God’s engraved upon your heart. Because the Word says that with Him, all things are possible. That means your dreams are never out of reach!”
I smiled. Yes, I did. Because I meant every single syllable.
Because I’m in the thick of it right this moment. I’m still running. Scared but chasing. Living the dream that woke me one day when I said, “ENOUGH! I’m not living my life for me any more. I refuse to waste the time God’s given me, miserable because I’m not answering that call, no matter the risks. God – I’m stepping out to chase Your will for my life.”
I speak to you today, dear Dreamers.
I know you have an answer to Question #1. We all do.
But Question #2 – I’m rooting for you in that one!
I’m with you as you seek an answer. And if you’re out there, dreaming of becoming an author, artist, teacher, parent, traveler, volunteer, business owner, doctor, servant for Christ… Whatever it is, don’t you dare let that flame go out.
Don’t give up.
Don’t answer Question #1 and stop because Question #2 looks too big and scary to overcome. Because I can tell you one thing —
The answer to Question #2 is NEVER as difficult as regretting the dream lost in Question #1.
I’m praying for YOU today. I’m praying that you woke with “ENOUGH!” on your lips. And if that didn’t happen, then try again tomorrow morning.
Think about your answer to Question #2. Think about how badly you want Question #1. Swing around to the side of the bed. Put your feet down on the floor and mean it when you take that first step out. Risk if you have to, but never walk in regret.
Dreaming with you today,