Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Some days, I look at my bookshelf and marvel. Dream. I let jealousy grip my heart because some authors are more successful than me. I feel weak. And often, I don’t feel qualified to be filed among the ranks of better authors, better writers, better creators.
A long time ago, I made the decision to not go to college and pursue my dream as an author instead. I felt like God was calling me on a different path. And I’m confident in God’s plan for me, but sometimes it’s hard.
I felt called to share my struggle today to help you understand: even if you have faith in God’s design and plan and faithfulness, it’s okay to struggle with the human emotions attached.
I have this vision. Maybe you have a vision, too. A vision for what success looks like to you, what your dream life is. And that dream can involve a lot of things like family, pets, home, church. But speaking specifically of career, every one of us has a vision of what our dream career looks like.
But what we don’t talk about enough is the time in-between. The plateauing. The failing. The slogging through procrastination and failure and low self-esteem.
I don’t share these things to complain, because God has been so faithful to me over the last few years and I am so thankful for His blessings. But I share them to be real with you: failure happens. Redirection happens. The time in-between isn’t very pretty. And that’s okay.
I’ve sold 24 books on Amazon.
It’s hard for me to share that with you. I want to be a successful author selling tens of thousands of books! But this is the in-between. And I’m learning humility because of it. I had an amazing discussion with my best friend this week, and I shared my struggle with her. What’s been going through my mind. All the lies telling me I’m not good enough or successful enough to be qualified as an author.
But she reminded me of 4 crucial things. And as you read these, I want you to picture your own vision and picture your own failures and in-between moments.
1. Take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come. I might not be proud of selling 24 books on Amazon, but I’m thankful for those 24 people who’ve supported me. And I’m so thankful God has blessed me with the opportunity to even be called an author in the first place. Thinking back to just a few years ago, I never truly believed I’d be able to hold my book in my hands. And now, there is so much to be thankful for. Be thankful for God’s faithfulness. He was faithful before; He will be faithful again.
2. There is still time. I get so easily wound up thinking I don’t have enough time to finish a project or get a book out there, but I completely forget that I’m 18. And this doesn’t just apply to teenagers. Even if you’re older, be confident: if God wants to speak through you, He’ll give you the time. There is time for mistakes, for seasons of growth, for seasons of stagnation. Trust His timing.
3. Don’t stop being excited. That vision you have? Don’t let it slip away in the hard times. That fire burning in your chest? Don’t let it fade. My best friend reminded me during our discussion: Don’t stop being excited even when the time in between isn’t very exciting. Right now might not look very glamorous, but don’t lose hope. God’s plan isn’t just something you can trust in. It’s exciting. It’s worth waiting for. So wait excited.
4. Surrender > Success. All my life, I thought success was determined by how many books I could sell, how much money I could make, how many people I could meet. But I’m learning that true success, godly success, is surrendering my idea of success–my dreams and visions–to God’s idea of success and His plan for my life.
I’ve seen this in my own life. When I choose to hold tightly to my dreams and force my way to earthly success, I might receive a reward, but the reward isn’t fulfilling. Selling books isn’t exciting. Meeting new people becomes a responsibility.
But when I open my hands and say, “God, this is what I have. Use it the way you want, even if that looks different than what I want,” flowers bloom. Relationships become treasures. Tiny victories are magnified. And thankfulness becomes a lifestyle, rather than a mindset I need to strive for.
Surrender is scary. I’m slogging through that right now. For the first time in my life, I don’t have ideas I’m excited about (book-writing wise). Far Below Human Eyes isn’t flying off bookshelves like I dreamed, and my royalties are thin. It’s scary jumping into such a competitive industry.
But this is what I have. And I know God can make beautiful things out of ashes, out of wilting flowers, out of dust, out of us.
It’s okay if growth looks different in this season. It’s okay if you’re not there yet. It’s okay to struggle.
And remember, if all else fails, if you don’t achieve the worldly success you want, if you fail too many times, if you don’t get the job or the dream family or the dream life… you still have the kingdom of heaven to look forward to. And that is the greatest success.
Isaiah 35:1-2 says, “Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.”
Trust God in the in-between. Don’t stop working hard. Don’t stop surrendering. And don’t stop smiling, friend. He will be faithful again.