Monday, February 10, 2014

What do you do when you realize all your dreams have come true?

When I was five years old, my dad asked me the question that most parents ask their kids from time to time. Our conversation went a little bit like this:

Dad:  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Me:  “I want to write books.”

While my dad might have been a little surprised at my answer, he and my mother never hesitated to support that dream. As a child, I had no idea what kind of life I was signing up for; nor did I have any clue about the heartache that comes with pouring out one’s heart and soul on paper only to have it rejected by publishers and agents alike. Still, I had a support system bigger than I could have ever requested, and I had a dream that refused to die.

I wrote my first poem at the age of six on a napkin in the kitchen of my childhood home. It was far from glorious, but I’m told my parents still have the napkin on which I unceremoniously distinguished my mama from a llama (creative, right?). From that point, I filled journals at a determined pace, documenting even the dullest points of my life, and went on to write my first horrible book at the ripe old age of sixteen.

Throughout the years, I’ve become a better writer, I’ve lived and experienced much more complex life events, and I’ve grown. As a result, I’ve learned. Yet, up until about a week ago, it wasn’t enough. I still had rejection letters pouring into my inbox, and I was tired.

Yes. I fully realize that I’m only twenty-five years old, and that’s far too young to give up on a lifelong dream; but, I was ready to surrender to the fact that it might not ever happen for me. While driving home from work one day, I heard a song that touched me in a spiritual place and spoke the words of my heart.

From “Run” by Delta Rae:  “All my life I’ve been burning by the dreams I’ve had, now I want to run.”

From the time I was a child, I had a favorite word:  "dream."

I was tired of chasing, and I was taking a hiatus from writing. In fact, on January 27th of this year (only two weeks ago), I wrote an entry in my prayer journal in which I gave it all back. I thanked God for putting that dream in my heart, I acknowledged that I had taken ownership of the dream when it should have still been in his hands, and I surrendered it back to him. I wrote that, if it never happened, I’d accept that fact.

A week later, I received my first acceptance letter and a book contract. It was an incredible feeling, and it made me realize that we really can’t do this thing on our own.

As I sat in my living room that night, furiously writing again with renewed passion, it all hit me. A line from one of my favorite movies (Coyote Ugly) played in my head: What do you do when you realize all your dreams have come true?”

My answer came without any further thinking:   I cried.

Sure, they were happy tears, but they were also tears of gratitude—gratitude for the fact that God did, in fact, plant this dream in my heart and see it to fruition. I had such a thankful heart—thankful for the parents who never stopped believing in me, for the mother who has read everything I’ve ever written, and for the father who constantly reminded me “this is what you were made to do.” I was thankful for the friend who has read every manuscript and provided feedback, just as I was thankful for the friend who once told me that even if all I ever wrote were B-list books, he’d kick my butt if I didn’t write B-list books for the rest of my life. I was thankful for the teachers who spent a little extra time with me—not only teaching, but also encouraging and cultivating my dreams.

And, I was thankful for everyone who has offered encouragement, those who supported my previous writing endeavors, and all who are still by my side.

It’s been an incredible and slightly overwhelming week, and I’m not going to pull out the line:  “You can do anything you set your mind to.” It has always irritated me when I hear people who suddenly achieve something and feel the need to express that sentiment. Nonetheless, I will offer a sincere “thank you” to all of my friends and family, and I will say that I truly believe that there is a reason that God gives us each the dreams we have. 

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