Originally published Monday, 02 December 2013.
My dream died.
I'm just going to come right out and say it. I already wrote that I can't sugar coat things anymore.
And now? The gloves are off.
"What kind of God would stand back and watch a dream--a good dream, for ministry and impact--fall apart?"
That's what I just read in Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer (the creator of VeggieTales®). I devoured his 80,000 word memoir in less than half a day. Seriously couldn't have come at a better time. (Thanks Brett Burner for the recommendation).
"Why would God want us to let go of our dreams? Because anything I am unwilling to let go of is an idol, and I am in sin. The more I thought about my intense drive to build Big Idea and change the world, the more I realized I had let my 'good work' became an idol that defined me. Rather than finding my identity in my relationship with God, I was finding it in my drive to do 'good work.'"
Writing had become my idol.
It's humbling when God continues working on you in a certain area that you thought you already learned. Am I right?
"It wasn't about impact; it was about obedience. It wasn't about making stuff up; it was about listening. Eventually it struck me that I no longer felt the need to write anything. I didn't need to have any impact at all. Whatever needs I had were being met by the Scripture I was reading and by the life of prayer I was developing. My passion was shifting from impact to God. It took several months, but what I was starting to feel I can only describe as a sense of 'giving up'--of 'dying.' It actually frightened me at first, because I wasn't sure exactly WHAT was dying in me. And then one day it was clear. It was my ambition. It was my will. It was my hopes, my dreams. My life."
It's as if Phil started speaking directly to me. How did he know I was taking a writing break? How did he know that I felt a part of me was dying inside. My will. My hopes. My dreams. My life. Phil continues.
"God loves you. Not because of what you can do, or even because of what you can become if you work really, really hard. He loves you because he made you. He loves you just the way you are. He loves you even when you aren't doing anything at all. We really shouldn't attempt to do anything for God until we have learned to find our worth in him alone."
Not in the fact that my efforts to write, publish, and market a book have failed. I can only be obedient to publish what He tells me and leave the rest (sales) up to Him. My worth is found in my identity in Christ, not in the fact that churches acknowledge this and invite me to speak.
In fact, no church has asked me to speak on my recent book Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me. The book I spent pouring out my heart and soul. The book that was contracted by another publisher and then canceled. I thought this time would be different. That there would be some spiritual significance to the fact that I literally wrestled over this book for years, and it was finally here.
"The impact God has planned for us doesn't occur when we're pursuing impact. It occurs when we're pursuing God. In 2003, my dream died. And I discovered, once all the noise had faded away, what I had been missing all along. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul plants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1). Let it go. Give it up. Let it die. Let Christ shred your dragon skin and lead you into a whole new life. Trust me. It's worth it."
Thanks Phil. I'm trying.
My heart is broken.
Will I ever write again? Should I write to fill words on a page? Should I give up completely and get a day job?
I don't want to care anymore. I just want to be obedient. I know. Not a flashy word. Not comfortable. Maybe, like Phil, I'll have another 'big idea.' Maybe not. For now I choose to serve with integrity, not pretending to be somebody I'm not.
I'm a great writer, but I'm not as good at marketing as I thought. In fact, I'm terrible.
I'm learning, like Phil, that it's none of my business to plan the next 5 or 10 years of my life. Maybe one of the reasons why I can't-for-the-life-of-me plot out my next life map is because I'm not supposed to. It feels amazing to accomplish all my dreams I set out to accomplish 7 years ago, and even more gut wrenching to see them all crumble at my feet.
I just want to be used by God.
I just want to be obedient (there's that word again)--no matter if my dreams are resurrected or not. No matter if I write another book or not.
Question: Have you ever experienced the death of a dream? How did it make you feel, and what encouraged you through?
[Photo: >>haley, Creative Commons]