When I was little, I didn't talk very much until I was about three years old. Then, I proceeded to talk in full sentences and paragraphs with quite a good vocabulary for a toddler.
My mom will tell you that she thinks I was waiting until I figured out how to do it the right way before I started to really speak.
I think my mom is on to something. All my life, I have gone at my own pace. I have always hated being pushed into doing things I didn't feel ready for - take those swimming lessons. Being forced - on the first day of class when I was terrified of water - to jump from the diving board into the deep end was the absolute WORST way to get me to learn to swim. Instead, my Dad helped me learn at my own pace, in my own way.
My mom has always said I march to the beat of my own drum - and that's pretty much true. I tend to circle around things, approaching from the side rather than head on. I want to see things from all angles, try things my own way rather than the prescribed set of instructions. People breathing down my neck, micro-managing me makes me want to rebel. Pushing me (even when it's MYSELF doing the pushing which I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with) just makes me stubbornly dig my heels in or worse freeze in panic.
So, that brings me to an epiphany I had today. See, in December, I found out I had been chosen to be on Holley Gerth's God Sized Dream Team. Holley Gerth happens to be a best-selling Christian author with a high traffic blog and a sought after speaker.
I was beside myself with excitement. At last, my dreams of being a writer were going to come true! It was a God thing that I got chosen out of all those applicants.
January 1st came (coincidentally the first day of our link up on Holley's blog) and I was dizzy with excitement. I was ready to start running the path.
The only problem was, I wasn't sure what path exactly I was supposed to be running. There are a lot of different kinds of writing and multiple means of sharing that writing.
Was I supposed to overhaul my blog and drive more traffic there? Was I supposed to start a new blog with a new focus? Was I supposed to write articles, Bible studies, short stories, essays or even (let my heart be still) a novel?
I felt like I was standing in the middle of a woods with trails leading in all directions into trackless forest and I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to pick one. Right now. But uncertainty made me paralyzed.
What if I started down the wrong path and got hopelessly lost? What if I blew this opportunity?
Suddenly, I could hear the clock ticking in my head - I only had six months on the God sized dream team and I needed to make the most of it. I felt panic bubble up inside me and every day I got up with the intention to be productive.
But somehow, I was getting nothing done besides my weekly articles for our local paper. I felt like a dog chasing his tail - expending a lot of energy getting nowhere and experiencing a lot of frustration in the process.
On the one hand, I had a clear call from God to write and my understanding was that there were two things I needed to write: fiction and about the stories of the daily difference God makes in my life and those I am privileged to meet.
On the other hand, there was one little problem - finances. I felt like I was expending a lot of energy for little monetary return at the paper. Yes, I got some good feedback from people in the community. Yes, I was helping people who had something to share get the word out, but the bottom line was I was tired. Weekly deadlines for years tend to do that to a person. Not to mention, our need for more income continued to nag at the back of my mind. (the amount I am paid is pretty standard for a newspaper stringer - it's just the bottom of the freelance food chain).
Ideally - at least in my mind- I wanted to find a part time job that I enjoyed but that I could leave at work at the end of the day. On my days off, I could concentrate on my own writing. But every place I applied, while I was told I was in the top couple candidates, never worked out.
So, I decided that I would create a freelance career. I could make good money writing and wasn't that what I wanted anyway - to make a living from my pen? Yes, my fiction and other writing would have to take a back seat for a while, but I needed to establish my career. I decided since I love all things dogs, that would be my niche and I'd become a pet expert. I even came up with a cute name for my future blog base - Come.Sit.Stay.
Yet, it didn't feel right to me. I was restless. I found other things to do and procrastinated getting started. I tried to shove away my doubts, telling myself that hey, it's outside my comfort zone - that's why I feel this way.
Then this morning I read two blog posts from fellow God-sized dreamers. One was Laurie Wallin's here and one was Carey Bailey's here.
From Laurie's post I realized that I wanted things to be easy. The newspaper job a lot of times was hard and stressful - people bailed when a deadline loomed, photographers didn't show up, or a story fell through at the last minute - but no matter how many times I have tried to leave, God has blocked my path.
From Carey's post, in which she talked about Sarai trying to force her dream into her own mold, how she thought it would be, a light bulb went on in my head. Because of the things I thought I should do - like make more money and be what I termed "successful" in my writing career - I was trying to force the dream God gave me into a shape that just didn't fit. I was pushing myself in the wrong direction and while logic said that direction made sense, my dreamer heart knew differently.
Earlier this week, I talked to a woman who is a life coach, and when I explained my chosen direction, she said to me, "Honey, don't take this the wrong way, but you need to ditch the dogs. That's not where your heart is." I knew she was right, but I resisted.
It seemed logical - after all, you don't make money writing fiction or even spiritual blog posts. I'm no Anne Voskamp. And I felt this urgency to hurry up and DO something that would give me a tangible return - increased income - before my six months on the dream team was up.
But the thing is, while I could write good, informative articles for pet owners and I do love to help friends with training and socializing tips - that's NOT what God has called me to. That's not really my God-sized dream.
It's hard to give up the safe writing route though - I feel kind of like hyperventilating just thinking that - because it seems a lot more sure, a lot more reliable than writing stories. Writing stories almost sounds childish doesn't it? Not something an adult does as a job, surely.
But, God has called me to write stories - stories that are magical and touch people in a way that even a really good, informative piece of journalism can't. Why? Because, for most of us, we connect with stories more than facts. Let's face it, way more people have read The Chronicles of Narnia than Mere Christianity. Sorry, Mr. Lewis.
Even non-fiction pieces benefit from the true stories that make those facts alive and relevant. Which is why God has also called me to share the stories of how God meets me and others in the ordinary and does something extraordinary through my blog, my weekly newspaper column, and probably a written Bible study someday.
The thing is though, I haven't been obedient to God's call. I've put Him off, saying, First I need to... After I do this then I'll write... I've pushed my calling to the bottom of my to do list.
God showed me today though, that until I start doing what He's called me to do, I'll stay stuck at that crossroads in the woods, bewildered and frustrated and never going anywhere.
Instead, God wants me to start down the path He's already clearly marked - it just didn't look as promising or easy as some of the others.
"Two paths diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference. " ~ Robert Frost
Are you on the path God's called you to? If not, it's time to lace up your hiking boots!
~ Blessings, Bronte