Pretend to be an extrovert. Then take a nap.
These were my words to live by a couple weeks ago when my husband and I were at a 5 day writer’s conference. Because, according to author and speaker Jim Watkins ( http://www.jameswatkins.com ), the three rules to publishing success are: 1. Network. 2. Network. And 3….yep. Network.
This introvert became a wannabe extrovert during those busy days. From 7am until 9pm. Wake up and go to the cafeteria for breakfast…network. Go to classes…network. Coffee break…network. Lunch, more classes, dinner, evening groups…network. Repeat again and again. And then take a nap at the end of the day… a seven hour nap, in my case, which is just barely time to recharge enough to do it again.
It was a little overwhelming and a lot intimidating.
So what do you do when you’re driven toward something but it seems there’s no way to reach your goal without a giant barrier (or two. or three.) blocking your way?
There was a time, not long ago, when I would have said a big no thank you to spending five days out of my comfort zone with a bunch of strangers. This time was different. I knew if I said no to this, I would be handicapping the dream God put on my heart.
When I was young I used to think if God put a dream in my heart, it would just happen. Someone would show up at my door one day, apparently having read my mind, and offer the opportunity I had been longing for.
(Ah, former me…bless her heart.)
At the conference last month Jim Watkins said, “Trust God like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you.”
This quote is so inspiring to me. It’s easy to get stuck in a place of waiting for God to miraculously make something happen for us. It’s just as easy to get stuck in a place of doing it all ourselves, leaving God trailing behind.
When you’re following God’s path for your life and you come to a blockade (and you will most certainly come to a blockade, if not many), the way I see it you have four choices.
- Throw your hands up in resignation and redirect yourself
- Listen to see if God wants to redirect you
- Find a way through, across, or around the blockade.
- Make camp and spend the rest of your life staring at the blockade.
Which one comes most naturally to you? I would say redirecting myself is my natural inclination, before I slow down enough to remember that listening for God’s direction is actually my best bet. And hopefully that will lead to #3, finding a way past the blockade. Lord help me if I resort to #1 or settle for #4.
Often, when our course is being redirected by God, it’s easy to think we missed the mark to begin with. That we never should have started what we began that led us to the point of redirection. But what if that’s not true at all? What if the journey was God’s plan all along?
Another great quote from the conference came from author and speaker Steven James who said,
“Just because God keeps a door closed, it doesn’t mean he didn’t want you to try opening it.”
The door may be kept closed for reasons we will never fully understand. Sometimes the most thorough understanding we can have is simply that God knows best. There’s no telling what lessons we’ll learn or character we’ll develop on the journey of trying that will ultimately benefit us in big ways.
I’ve been spending a lot of time writing over the past year. I’m loving the journey and am learning more every day about what it takes to actually be a writer. And let me tell you…the journey is so much more complex than I ever imagined. Discouraging in many ways, to be honest. I have moments when I consider how much easier it would be to quit.
But then I come back to basics. I focus in on the dream God put on my heart and I block out the other voices, knowing that the dream belongs to God, not me. If he equips me to move past the blockades, (which will inevitably come), then great. If he chooses to redirect me, that’s fine too.
It will be in his strength, either way.
What blockades are in your path today? How will you choose to handle them?
This week, try giving your dreams to God. Trust him and work hard. Do what you’ve got to do. And then take a nap. 🙂
Please leave me a comment to share your thoughts—I’d love to hear what’s going on with you and say a prayer for your journey!