Why Your Dreams Require Band-Aids

You have a dream, right? So do I. We probably have more than one, maybe even dozens. If your dream isn’t brand new and you’ve started taking steps to pursue it, you’ve likely discovered that the path to fulfillment is something like the field of poppies that Dorothy had to cross to reach the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz.

Those poppies sure look pretty, but [spoiler], the wicked witch has poisoned them to keep Dorothy from reaching her goal. Hopefully none of us are picking our way through a field of poison poppies today, but if you’re like me, you might be buying some Band-Aids.

Case in point

My husband and I both love the outdoors, but the primary difference between us is that he was born with natural ability and I have to work for every ounce of strength and skill I have. One sport he introduced me to is surfing, and last year, I shared my preliminary experience with you. Since then, I’ve improved … a little.

Understand that my goal with this sport is not lofty. I don’t want to metal in a sporting event or even qualify to participate in one. I simply want to get upright long enough to enjoy the wave and then get off without injuring myself.

The size of our goal doesn’t matter as much as how willing we are to stick with it. In that regard, surfing and dreams in general have a few common qualities.

To succeed, you will fall.

Falling off a surfboard provides a physical sensation that equates well to the pain of failure. You don’t just fall off a surfboard and land gently in the water. Your board might nose dive, catapulting you over it. You might get sucked under the water and feel like you’re drowning.

However, the more you fall, the wiser you become. As you practice, you will keep falling, but experience will teach you that even when you feel like you’re going to drown, you should wait a few moments before surfacing, or your board might land on your head. Yes, ouch.

Pursuing dreams is similar. You might get rejected, turned down, booed, told “that’s impossible,” or any number of scenarios. If you don’t quit the first time, the second time, or the hundredth time you fall, you will eventually meet success or at least approach your goal more intelligently.

To succeed, you will scrape your knee.

Be prepared. Pride and self-interests often take a back seat when pursuing goals.

The last time we walked to the beach with surf boards in tow, I had one wish: Please, please let me not get hurt today. You see, last year, I took a hefty chunk of skin off my left knee that required a bigger Band-Aid than even the lifeguard could provide.

For the first hour, I was getting the hang of things. I welcomed smaller waves and kept getting up on the board for some decent rides. The only problem was that since my waves weren’t deep, I was riding them into much more shallow waters. All it took was one wrong fall, and I scraped the skin off my other knee.

So now they match. Kind of. I jokingly tell James that thanks to this sport, I will have prematurely ugly knees.

The bigger the dream, the bigger the fight

Yes, our dreams sometimes leave us feeling scraped up.  As Pete Wilson shares in his book What Keeps You Up at Night, “The bigger the dream, the bigger the fight you’ll face. In fact, the people throughout history who have been the most directly in the center of God’s will for their lives are the same people who have gone through the toughest trials.”

Wilson gives the example of Joseph, one of my favorite Bible characters. Talk about someone whose dream presented obstacles! He went from daddy’s favorite to a slave and a prisoner before God elevated him to Pharaoh’s right hand man. His life experience left more than scraped knees. But through all the setbacks and disappointments in his life, Joseph sought to honor God through his circumstances, and God remained with him.

Several times in Scripture, we find this idea of God being present with Joseph through every low point in his life (emphasis added below).

  • The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.” (Genesis 39:2 NKJV)
  • “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:21 NKJV)
  • “The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” (Genesis 39:23 NKJV)
  • “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.” (Acts 7:9-10 NKJV)

You know what these verses tell me? When we seek to honor God through our dreams, God is with us, too.

Surfing is but a picture.

Surfing is a personal dare I have yet to master, but it paints such a good picture for the obstacles we often face when going for the dreams God has placed on our hearts.

The bottom line is that we can’t give up on them, because God doesn’t give up on us. We have to keep buying the Band-Aids. One day, when we do succeed, all those falls will have been worthwhile as we feel God’s pleasure. Well done!

~ Kristen

I’m grateful this post first appeared on DailyPS.com.

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Box Jumps in the Writing Life

This is a traditional box jump, and this is not me. The box jump at my gym is a platform design, and I’ve yet to conquer level 4. One day!

When my husband and I joined a gym together, he introduced me to the box jump. In theory, it’s simple, a metal platform that you jump on with both feet at the same time. You can move to higher levels as you advance in ability. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

In theory, publishing is simple too. You have a great idea. You write it down on paper. You publish it, and it becomes a New York Times’ best seller.

And you laugh. Of course, publishing doesn’t work that way. Mastering the box jump isn’t so easy either. In fact, it has many parallels with the writing life.

Mental Hurdle: Fear

When I first step up to the box jump, all I can envision is catching my foot on the bottom and losing my front teeth. So, I stretch, procrastinate, and then finally step toward it. Deep breath. Swing arms. Grit teeth. And … freeze.

James gently reminds me, “It’s all in your head, you know.”

Mostly, he’s right. There are my physical limitations, but what’s really holding me back is my fear of getting hurt.

We writers have our share of fears, don’t we? Sometimes, we call them “writer’s block” where try as we might, we can’t find the next word of our project. We stress that we’ll never be able to finish, and our paralysis freezes up the wheels of our imaginations.

Other times, we face the fear of rejection from agents and editors. Although refusals are a realistic part of the writer’s life, that doesn’t mean they sting any less. Perhaps even more unnerving is the day we do publish something, and we fear no one will read it or like it.

However, as Scripture reminds us, fear is not supposed to be our focus. 2 Timothy 1:7 states:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (NKJV).

Although this truth doesn’t discount our very real fears, it does redirect our attention to think on what is true and what we can do through the power of Christ.

To read the full post, visit The Write Conversation. I’m grateful to Edie Melson for sharing this two-part series on her award-winning blog for writers. 

Even if you’re not a writer, you can probably relate. What are some personal “box jumps” you’ve had to overcome?

~ Kristen

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The Path of Resistance

resistanceLast week, I went biking on a particularly windy day. Starting down the trail, my dirt bike raced along without much effort on my part.

The return home, however, was not such a breeze. With head down, I peddled hard into the wind and made much slower progress. My thighs started to burn.

Resistance brings pressure, sweat, and sometimes pain; I’m not just talking about the kind that comes from biking into the wind.

Life presents us with resistance. In school, we have to work hard and figure out teacher expectations to earn good grades. In our jobs, we might have to deal with unpleasant customers, co-worker conflicts, or project deadlines. Good relationships also don’t come naturally but require honesty and patience to resolve differences.

We writers know all about resistance. Editors may return our queries with polite or critical rejections. We may have a deadline looming, and suddenly, our fingers feel frozen on the keyboard.

Chances are, most of us complain about resistance.

However, let’s take a different approach. If teachers handed out A’s like candy, we would never discover our weaknesses or learn from our mistakes and improve. If editors drew smiley faces on every writer’s proposal, the market would be flooded with half-developed plots and weak characters (books no one wants to read).

Resistance makes us better, stronger. We can’t grow without it.

The need for endurance

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explained the need for a character trait that knows how to handle resistance. This quality is endurance.  In I Corinthians 9:24-27, he compared the Christian life to an athlete who can win a race only if he exercises self-control and disciplines his body. Resistance training helps the athlete succeed when the race counts.

The truth is, however, that none of us enjoys push-backs and disappointment. To appreciate them, we have to look beyond the moment.

20170130_073655One way to help keep the goal in mind is to remember past finish lines crossed. I’m a visual person, so you’ll see pictures of physical dares I’ve met around my house (usually in the form of adventures with my brother). Recently, I’ve also started keeping a gratitude journal. These entries remind me that God has always been faithful in tough spots in the past, and He’s not going to quit on me (even when I’m tempted to quit on myself).

Starting is easy. Finishing is hard work. But it’s worth it.

The prize before us

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (I Corinthians 9:24).

As I biked home, I turned my gaze upward. In the sky, birds glided and swooped. The same wind that fought against me allowed them to soar.

When you’re faced with resistance, whether in your spiritual walk or personal life, press on. Set your eyes on the prize. (Make sure you have one picked out before you start!)

The prize I’m running for is to hear my Savior Jesus Christ tell me well done one day:

  • Well done for loving the people in your life, even when they’re hard to love.
  • Well done for being faithful where I place you, even when you’d rather be somewhere else.
  • Well done for listening for my voice, even when I seem silent.
  • Well done for writing the words and stories I’ve given you to tell, even if you never know what impact (if any) they will have.

One day, I pray I’ll hear words like these. Until that day, I say amen to what Paul said in Philippians 3:14.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

What prize do you have in sight? What well done do you want to hear? 

Today, embrace the resistance. One day, the wind that buffets you may give you wings.

Kristen

 

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