Brené Brown shares a powerful story in her book, Braving the Wilderness, about when she decided to write herself a permission slip much like the ones she was signing for her school-aged daughter at the time. She was about to tape an episode with Oprah and was a bundle of emotions (I’d be too). Instead of allowing the stress, pressure, and anxiety to tell her who she was or how’d she do, she wrote herself permission to have fun and enjoy it as it would be.
She granted herself the opportunity to belong in her moment, and to live it both fully and boldly.
After years of letting my book proposal sit on the shelf, God’s whisper spoke life into my dream again. Not only did he remind me of what he had planted in me years ago, but he did something else too.
He invited me to pursue my dream to be a writer, no matter what those official voices had spoken. Ultimately, what I heard after years of letting that book proposal sit was this:
Go write the book.
It was a total shift for me. Instead of waiting for an outside voice to allow me the space to pursue this dream, God was the one asking me to release what was in me.
I approached the dream completely differently. This was about stewardship and giving away what God had put in me. So I changed my source of permission from external voices to God’s internal whisper. I traded my concern for what others around me were saying for what God was stirring in me.
And then I got to work — because the book wasn’t going to write itself.
To date it is probably my most calculated pursuit of a dream yet. I literally counted out the number of days I had to write it, which was about 90. I researched the word count of a typical non-fiction book. Using my snazzy mathematics degree from college, I figured out that I needed to write 500 to 600 words a day for 3 months.
Then you know what I did? I showed up, day by day and word by word.
That’s the key in all of this, no matter what dream you’re wanting to pursue. Passion is important and clarity is necessary, but ultimately you and I have to decide we’re no longer willing not to show up. One day has to be the first day — of many days — that we do the thing. It’s the day we choose that all the reasons we usually give for why we’re quitting whatever we sought to accomplish don’t count this time. They don’t carry the weight to sway or distract us.
We do the mundane and purposeful rhythms, every day for countless days, and through the ordinary something extraordinary takes place.
So last May I decided that all the reasons I usually give myself weren’t going to work this time. Then I wrote the book. I edited it and had others read it, and now I’m pitching it.
What feels amazing about where I am on this journey is that I’m not seeking the validation from publishers to write, as I previously was anxious to receive. I wrote the book. I am a writer.
Now I’m looking for the best place to entrust this offering, which demands I keep working though the path isn’t clear and there are plenty of obstacles along the way. Even still, I’m choosing to show up.
What I hope you hear in this story is this — don’t give others the power to keep you from running hard after what God has put in you. If you know God is calling you to do something, do it. Launch forward by his leading and in response to what he has done in you.
So how do we live this out? We show up each day, steward well what is before us, and allow what flows from us to reflect God’s deposit in us. We partner with the dreams God has placed in us, one decision at a time.
This all means that if you dream of writing a book, write the first chapter. If you want to buy a house, save the first thousand dollars. If you want to grow community, sign yourself up for an activity that puts you around new people. Stop waiting for a perfect time or some heavenly sign to pursue what dreams God already has placed in you. Simply take the first step.
Also, write out that permission slip. I’m not even kidding. Grant yourself the permission to be right now the person who you hope to be when you ultimately step into that dream.
So what’s the dream you need to show up for today? And what kind of permission do you need to grant yourself? I’d love to hear below!