Exactly ten years ago I was on the World Race in India. I could share all kinds of stories from my month there, both beautiful and painful ones, but there’s a specific afternoon I’ll never forget. It’s the day I decided I would write a book.
It came to me while I was lying on the bottom bunk in the bedroom I shared with two other girls. I had my journal out and was dreaming with God about what could be in the years and seasons ahead. Before I consciously knew what I was writing, I penned these words…
I want to write a book. Maybe lots of books.
Later that day I announced it to my roommates to make it official. Somehow and someday I was committing to make this book happen.
Six years later, recently home from a summer in Mozambique with Mark, I decided it was time to pursue this dream. So I set off to write my first book.
I didn’t have a clue how to do this, though, so I enlisted the help of my friend Erin. At the time she was in the editing process with her publisher for her forthcoming book and was full of knowledge.
Apparently the first thing I needed was a book proposal. No problem, I thought. One quick search led me to Michael Hyatt’s “Write a Winning Book Proposal” and I immediately bought it.
Over the next weeks and months I pieced together the proposal. It contained every bit of information about my topic that a publisher would want to know, from a compelling summary and thorough market analysis to even the first chapter of my unwritten manuscript.
I found myself feeling proud of that book proposal. I spent a lot of time on it, received so much help from others, and was eager to get it into the right hands. Not long after that I was connected with a few Christian publishing houses. According to the guidelines of one of them, they were unwilling to read proposals from authors without agents. Yet somehow unexpected doors opened that allowed my proposal to arrive into those influential hands.
This was amazing news for me, to which I was sure better news would follow.
It didn’t take long for emails to start showing up in my inbox. They all carried a similar message. This was well done, so they applauded, but we’re not interested.
The news crushed me. The fact I was certain it was a season of breakthrough made it extra hard for me to swallow the rejection.
Quickly I translated the news of not wanting to publish my book to mean I was a poor writer who shouldn’t pursue writing one. I didn’t know how to keep moving forward on something those official voices declared not good enough.
So I put my book proposal aside and didn’t pick it up again for years.
Unfortunately my story isn’t that unique because it’s all too common to hand over permission to the world around us to validate who we are, what we do, and where we go.
Without even realizing it, we can tune in to the voice of those surrounding us to the point that we don’t hear the whisper of God for our lives. In that place, all we do and who we are depends on who and what is around us instead of who is living in and flowing from us.
We may not even know we are doing it, but when others detract us from facing our fears, taking a giant risk, or following a dream planted by God, we have given permission to the wrong voice to direct our days.
That’s exactly what happened with my book proposal. I mustered enough courage and determination to research the information, work on it for months, and even get it into the hands of publishers. But the minute they said “no thanks,” I stopped.
I extended permission to those external voices to deter me from pursuing my dream. Instead of standing up to the resistance, even pushing against it, I allowed their words to halt my momentum.
I wonder what it is for you. What’s the dream God is calling you to, that you invested a lot of energy and time into, but you stopped when a struggle arose or opposition came? Where have you handed permission to those around you for what God’s put in you?
You may feel like that dream has died, but it hasn’t. Because that’s not the end of the story, even if it’s been the story for a long time. There’s more God is asking you to do with the dream he’s planted in you.
Maybe it’s time to get up again, show up again, and decide that the story continues.
Last summer, four years after receiving those initial rejection emails, I quietly began to hear God’s whisper remind me of my dream to write a book. This time, though, something was different. He wasn’t asking me to do the same things I did before in hopes of a new outcome. He was asking me to approach the dream from a completely new position — and that’s what I’m going to share with you next week.
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