what do you do with a dream like that?

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I couldn’t shake it from my bones but I put it down because what do you do with a dream like that?

Jennie Allen, the founder of the IF:Gathering, spoke those words during the end of the last session at the IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas the first weekend in February. It was Saturday, almost 5 pm. I was tired but so full of God. I had seen so many things that God had done that weekend (stay tuned for a post about that in a couple of days!) and I didn’t know the ways God would continue to show up on Sunday and Monday, too. Jennie was sharing about the IF:Gathering becoming a reality, something more than just a crazy dream she had.

A few minutes later, Jennie told everyone to look under their seats for a domino. We were challenged to write out next step in honoring God, in sharing the gospel. I thought for a few seconds before I wrote my answer. It wasn’t a difficult choice of what words to write:

Tell the truth.

That’s been the whisper building to a scream inside of my heart for the last year. It’s been nearly a year since I was selected to be on the For the Love launch team and in that time I have felt my own voice shake and wobble as I spoke the truth but I have learned more than ever to tell the truth, even when my voice trembles. Because if I don’t, then who will?

Tell the truth.

I was born with a gift from God, a gift of telling stories. I don’t mean to say that in a prideful way, but more as fact. God gifted me with words — both spoken and written — and I spent years as a teenager scribbling poems into college-ruled notebooks, typing them in Word and pasting them between my hand-written stories, and writing short stories to submit to our school’s lit magazine. I won award after award for my writing and in my senior year, I won an award for public speaking.

I couldn’t shake it from my bones…

Somehow, I began to doubt this precious and special gift from God. I had listened to adults tell me for years as a teenager to use those those words to glorify God. I also listened to those same adults make me feel worthless for the choices I made as a teenager, so when I thought about bringing glory to God using my gifts, I never felt like I could because I didn’t feel like I was good enough to bring God any glory. But still, I dreamed of making those things my career some day, in the way a little girl dreams of being a teacher or a doctor or an astronaut — I believed I could, but inside I never truly believe I would.

… but what do you do with a dream like that?

Even in college, when my professors praised my writing and speaking, I never felt like it was good enough or that I was good enough. I had to try harder, do better, on the next assignment, until I had pushed myself to point of breaking. It was so tiring to win their approval all the time, so with the exception of the academic papers I wrote in grad school, I quit writing. Stories, non-fiction, poetry — I just let it go because it didn’t seem like a dream that would go anywhere.

I couldn’t shake it from my bones but I put it down because what do you do with a dream like that?

In college, I spent nine months writing a book. It was a horrible and painful piece of writing — it was more free therapy than anything else. I look back at it now, at that first and second draft, and I see the flaws in my storytelling. It is an achy, cracked 250 pages of words, and I used to think I could never do anything with it. In fact, as soon as it was written, I knew I would never do anything with it except let it gather dust on a shelf or tucked in a box for storage.

But God. Oh, God. He does crazy things with our crazy dreams. Six months ago, I felt like I could hear the faintest of whispers in my ear — maybe you should write a book. And I answered back, before I ever heard Jennie Allen say those words, “But what do you do with a dream like that?”

Tell the truth.

You pray about it. You give it God and say, “Once I had this dream. And I thought maybe I could do it, but most likely I wouldn’t. But God, I just cannot shake it from these bones. So maybe, maybe You could take this blurry dream of mine, and You could either make it go away or You could make it come into focus? That would be great, God. One way or the other. Just do something with it, ok?”

God answers every prayer we pray. So often we only think He answers the ones that have positive outcomes. The things is, sometimes His answer is no and sometimes it’s not yet. This prayer, though, He answered with a resounding yes right away.

He gave that dream of mine, the dream-of-the-bones of mine, focus. I’m watching the pixels sharpen into something so crisp it’s becoming real. I am watching that story I told in painful words in college be retold with words that I hope are beautiful and powerful and that I pray point back to the goodness of my Jesus. I’m writing words that are so hard and so good to write. I’m crying my way through this story and seeing the glory and grace and goodness of God in every step of my life, every season of hardness and every season of submission.

We just go with all our heart. We just run. We throw off the junk.
– Jennie Alen

I am throwing it off — all the lies and untruths I’ve believed in and allowed to rule my life for so many years. I am not the best writer or speaker and I won’t pretend to be. God can teach me so much more of this craft He’s made me love. But the thing is, He did give me the talent, and it’s my job to embrace it now, and so I will spend my breath and my words telling the truth He has always known I would tell.

I will tell of His goodness.

Of His love.

Of His beautiful mercy and endless grace.

Won’t you listen, won’t you hear, the things I have to say?! Because my bones, they’re ready to share the dream they’ve held on for so very long.

– – – – – – – – – –

Four Letter Words will be available sometime in June. Stay tuned for more updates as I have them! I can’t wait for you to get a copy!

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