Mountains stretched to the horizon, mountain after mountain: most of them blue-green with evergreens, a few tall enough to be topped with rocks and snow. The closest had a peak covered by a meadow bright with flowers: gold, scarlet, and violet swaths, with highlights of creamy white and tiger orange dotted with jagged boulders.
That rainbow mountain was why I was here.
I’ve always loved nature and seen God in it. Well, almost always. There were a few years there where that wasn’t quite true, and today I’m over at Off the Page telling my story of seeing God in nature, especially in those few years.
(You may especially enjoy it if you love hearing about flowers, bees, mountains, beautiful nature things…)
I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.
I’ve been scared since I started my internship–of the time commitment, of my cohort, of being honest, of the emotions being stirred up, of the emotions I face every day.
And I’ve been scared of my dreams–of writing, of becoming a pastor. They both seem too huge and impossible and overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start. There are so many places I could submit my work. Where do I choose? How do I choose? What kind of writer am I? How do I gather up the courage to keep submitting and keep writing and keep submitting and keep writing when I get rejection notices, when I am exhausted after work, when there’s too much to write about and not enough time? How do I gather the courage to write my final sermon and write my pastor resume and write my statement of faith when, the longer I’m away from seminary, the more I wonder if I could ever actually be a pastor? How do I convince people that I’d be a good pastor when I’m not sure?
I don’t know. But I’m sick of giving in to my fear. I’m sick of avoiding my love of writing and my love of pastoring because I’m afraid. I’m sick of avoiding, period. I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.
Here I go again, then. Chasing my dreams, one step at a time. One step isn’t overwhelming: one blog post, one poem, researching one magazine, writing one pitch. One step isn’t overwhelming: looking up one Hebrew word, answering one question, writing one sentence of my statement of faith.
I refuse to give up on my dreams.
As I prepare to graduate, and as I approach the date with no long-term plans for afterwards, I find myself thinking about my writing. My prospects are slim for getting a job straight out of my summer internship, and one goal I have is to make writing more than a hobby. More than something I do in odd moments and only for myself.
That goal feels so far away. The viewing numbers of this blog are pathetic. My novels are all half-written at best. The list of publications I’ve been paid to write for is nowhere close to becoming a double-digit number. The money I make from writing is barely a trickle.
Yet, when I list my writing achievements to others, they are always impressed, even enthusiastic. “That’s so amazing!” they say, with utter sincerity, and “You could do far worse than the places you’ve been published in so far.”
I have accomplished something as a writer. Sure, there’s more to do, more I’d like to do–always–but I have written pieces and reached goals that are worth celebrating. Sure, I haven’t reached the point where I could live off of my writing, but I do make money, and I’ve worked hard and reached so many mile marks in the past year alone. Having farther I’d like to go doesn’t mean I haven’t already come far. I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far but still have more that I dream of doing.
So, that’s where I am right now: proud of what I’ve accomplished, but dreaming and planning and writing still.
Sometimes writing is just so overwhelming, whether because I have too many ideas, not enough, too many ridiculous expectations of myself, or just feel utterly inadequate. I’m someone who struggles with writing. It’s something I feel preposterous even admitting, as someone who wants to be a writer. Even more so as someone who is slowly beginning to call herself a writer.
Then again, what makes one a writer? Naming oneself? Writing? But what? How much? Is publication a necessity? How much? Where? Would my high school newspaper have been worse than an established magazine, made me less of a writer?
Is it how one writes? On paper or on a computer? Totally focused, regularly, sporadically, in spare moments, with distractions every few moments? I’ve done all of these.
Maybe categories aren’t the point. Maybe I’ve been a writer ever since I started my first journal in third grade. Maybe I’ve been a writer ever since I started wanting to be one, an event that’s much harder to pinpoint. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because I’m a writer now. Maybe it’s because of none of those things, but simply because God has placed the call, the need to write on my heart.
What can I do but write?
This post comes at a time when doubt is beginning to creep in, when the shine is wearing off a new term, a new apartment, a new routine. The everyday is settling in; my optimism is rolling back. Is it possible to get everything done? Is it worth it? What is worth doing, and what is worth not?
Am I even doing the right thing?
The world is such a broken place. How does my one little corner, full of words and books and classes and a few hours in ministry, accomplish anything? How can I do such small things when the need is so big, so huge? I’m an ant before a dinosaur; smaller. The day is so long and yet so short, filled quickly with work and class and cooking and spontaneous conversations, and at the end of the day… what have I actually accomplished?
Yet what else can I do? I have been called here. After a few years of trying to finagle my way out, I’m quite sure that here is exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I am a writer; not because of anything I’ve published, but because words just keep on coming out, crying to be put on paper. Because Writer is a title stamped on my heart, right next to Child of God.
Who am I to argue with where God has placed me? It may not make sense, but I trust. I’ve gone off on my own before, and that’s never EVER gone well. I’m going to keep doing what I can, and give the rest to God; for God is always by my side, helping me out when I can’t manage. Which is pretty much all the time.