A week or so ago, I went to my daughter’s school to read to her class. As the eighteen second-graders lined up to go outside to eat the (Pinterest-inspired and extremely juicy) fruit kabobs I had brought for a snack, several of them surrounded me. It wasn’t the Pyrex dish in my hands that had their attention, though. They had questions for me.
“Mrs. Bolyard, are you really writing a book?”
“How many pages have you written?”
“When will it be finished?”
And, from the particularly quiet, wide-eyed little girl closest to me, “What’s your book about?”
I was more than a little bit thrown off. I didn’t know they had any idea what I do, much less that I have book-writing aspirations. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though; with my daughter in their class, they’ve surely heard about my ambitious project more than once.
It’s endearing and terrifying, how she loves to tell people that her mama is writing a book. It’s heartwarming and intimidating that she puts my name on our church’s prayer list every week: “Pray for my mom’s book.” It’s precious and pressuring to realize that my girl…she’s watching. She knows my dream and she’s dreaming it along with me.
She wraps her arms around my shoulders while I’m finishing something up at my desk. “You’re gonna be famous, Mommy. I know it.”
A little part of my heart sings. But another part whimpers and wants to hide.
She calls from her room, talking about field trips to see where her friends’ parents work. I tell her my job wouldn’t be very entertaining to watch, and she responds with, “Pshyeah….but your job changes hearts!”
Tears come to my eyes. They’re from joy and complete fear.
I love that she knows what I’m doing. I love that she is aware and even cares about my dreams. I love that she’s getting to see the process – the highs and lows, the excitement and the frustration, the intangible rewards and the tangible sacrifices. I love that she’s watching ministry in action while she plays in her room across the hall from my office. I love that she sneaks in and looks at (but doesn’t touch) my notes and books spread across my desk, waiting for me to come back tomorrow to finish my thought.
I love that my little girl gets to see me chasing my dream.
But….it scares me that my little girl gets to see me chasing my dream. What will she see? What will I show her about a life of Jesus-following? What will she learn about work and goals and ambition?
And…..what if I fail? My little girl’s hopes are pinned to this dream of mine. What if I let her down?
Deep inside, I know that what she really needs to see is how I do this…not what happens as a result. She needs to see me have bad days and come back to my laptop the next morning. She needs to see me under the pressure of a deadline and desperate for a word from God. She needs to see me wanting to throw up my hands and give it all up….and then taking a deep breath and pressing on. She needs to see me persevere more than she needs to see me succeed.
She’s not fully aware of them yet, but she has dreams of her own. The last thing I would ever want to teach her is that if things are hard, she can give up….that if her dreams seem out of reach, she can settle for what’s right in front of her. I want her to see me pressing on so she knows that dreams are worth going after. I want her to watch me struggle so she knows God-given purpose isn’t a smooth road to travel. And if it comes to that, I want her to see me fail so she knows obedience is more important than my idea of success.
Every time of think of this little situation we have, I think of the psalmist’s words in Psalm 139:
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:4-5)
The message the writer is conveying is that there is no escaping God’s knowledge of us; what I hear, though, is that this calling of mine? It’s not outside the knowledge of God. He’s got it covered from all angles. He gives the words before they ever reach my consciousness, and He has surrounded me with His grace as I go forward. As I told a friend, I’m hemmed in behind and before; a sweet second-grader is pushing me forward while Jesus Himself is pulling me ahead.
Obviously, quitting is not an option.
So friend, I’m pressing on – moving toward some big things. Yes, I have a book proposal I’m working on. Yes, for an actual book that I hope an actual publisher will want to print. (But if they don’t, I’m writing it anyway because…..the second-grader.) I even have a major project I’m working on right now that you’ll hear about in the next week or so. (That’s why I’ve been a little quiet in this space lately. I’ve given myself a deadline and I’m pushing hard to meet it. If you want to be among the first to hear *hint hint* you can subscribe in that red and yellow box below this post or right over there —>)
My encouragement to you today is that whatever you’re working on? Whatever goal or dream or ambition you’re straining toward? It’s within reach. God sees it and knows about it and has it covered. He’s pulling you forward, cheering you on. And if that’s not enough motivation, maybe find a kid (or a whole class of them) and tell them your dream. I promise they won’t let it go, and with their eyes on you, neither will you.