Bravery Can Mean Going Belly Up

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Dream chasing and encouraging and fulfillment has taken up plenty of space on this here blog, of mine.

And last month?  Last month, I pursued one dream that I’ve harbored for a mighty long time.  With encouragement poured in from friends and Holy whispers of “you are already enough” ringing in my ears, I entered a writing contest.

If what I write next isn’t The Most Anti-climactic Statement in the history of ever, I might not know what anti-climactic really means.

I didn’t win.

But, but, BUT… I submitted.

And y’all, that was huge. It was a step toward something I’ve been saying I wanted to do out loud for a sweet forever.

And since I didn’t win, I get to share my entry here. With all of you.

You, who keep me on my toes and support the stuffing out of me. (I wish. The stuffing remains.)

My submission may have gone belly up, but my bravery in continuing to pursue The Dream? Alive and kickin’!!!

So, without further ado… my entry into the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. (And if you want to check out who did win? The winners are here.)

What the Toilet Paper Taught Me

I grew up with a father who lived by the credo that we have ten boxes of Kleenex in the house at all times. I thought this was normal.

Until, that is, I flew the coop and lived on my own for the first time.  My meager wages earned as a substitute teacher, while working as many jobs as possible until I landed my own full-time teaching job, barely covered one box of tissues – let alone ten! The idea of stockpiling Kleenex was laughable.

Years went by and I got the job, met a man, and started buying tissues ten boxes at a time. It only took two years of marriage and a visit from my in-laws for me to learn that this was normal to other people, too. Just, not always with tissues.

My husband’s parents live only a few hours away from us. One particular weekend, very soon after buying our first home, they made plans to visit and see what we’d done with the place.

A cleaning frenzy ensued. My inner Martha Stewart was ablaze in the kitchen, when my husband emerged from the bathroom, distraught.

“Please, TELL ME there is more toilet paper than this one roll,” he begged.

I mistakenly thought that reminding him that his parents would only be visiting for a few short hours would calm his agitated state.

Wrong!

“We DO have more than just this roll, though, right?” he pleaded again.

My choice of marital mate now fully in question, I reminded him, a little less gently this time, that his parents would only be visiting for four hours! And, while I don’t know how others’ bathroom experiences usually work, one double roll of toilet paper would probably suffice for four people in that short amount of time.

I shared this with him, jokingly.

This was a grave error on my part.

He slipped on his shoes, grabbed his keys and headed for the door. “I’m going to run out and buy us a six-pack. Just in case,” he announced. He looked pale.

At that moment, I understood.  I knew what this was. This was the Kleenex manifesto, only with toilet paper.

I explained that there was no need, as I had bought a twelve pack, double-rolls no less, the day before.

Those words worked better than any aphrodisiac. He strode over, looked deeply into my eyes, and proclaimed that I really was the one for him.

Two very important lessons were learned that day. One, I had clearly married a version of my father.  And two, my husband’s affections could be bought.

With toilet paper.

How To Chase Your Demons

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I don’t know about you, but I find that anytime I determine to move forward in a positive direction, in any area of my life, pesky little demons come out of the woodwork.  The very act of declaring that I’m going to attempt success seems to be a clarion call for them. I’m becoming wise to their ways, though. 42 years of living and 10 times that number, in failures, will help you do that.

Demons are crafty. They know that the best time to rear their ugly heads are when you are feeling… ugly. And, even though I’m well aware of the times they most like to pop up, they still have the ability to take me completely by surprise.

It’s annoying.

This… human condition thing.

What are your most consistent demons called? I can tell you, right now, that mine are Fear, Envy, and Disappointment.  Those little buggers love to hiss “What makes you think you have what it takes to succeed?”, “You can’t ever be as good at this as so-and-so.”, and “You’ve failed every time you’ve tried this.”.

Lifting my eyes heavenward for help, which is where my Help truly comes from, seems to issue my demons a special kind of challenge.  They are just as determined to keep my eyes downcast as I am to lift them heavenward.

I am happy to report, though,  that Fear hasn’t been getting near as much airtime as usual.  I’m feeling less afraid of its ability to derail me from my goals.  I’m becoming more confident in this truth:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If…

I keep my eyes firmly attached on Him.

And that little stinker Envy? Well, I’m learning that every time I make the choice spend time desiring what someone else has, it only serves to take my focus off what God has for me. Quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that!  I’ve got words to write, and books to read, and letters to send.

As for Disappointment, I think I might actually feel sorry for that one.  I’m  not only a member of The People Pleaser Club of the Western Hemisphere, I’m also The President of it. And I’ve come to realize that the person I most often let down is myself.  Now, I don’t want to dis myself here, but allow me to dis myself here – it doesn’t matter one withered fig whether I let myself down.

Because, seriously… how many times do I state that all is Grace around here.

It’s high time I start living like it.

First order of business?

Chase those demons down and smother them silly.

With grace, of course.

Grace galore.

Yes indeedy.

Want to join me in my chase?  Or, even better, what demons can I help you chase?

Chasing a Dream – Part 2

 

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Chasing a dream requires bravery. For some folks, that bravery comes in the form of Ice Cream Therapy. Ahem. Bravery truly comes, though, from The Source of all courage. We are reminded in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
 
I believe that. Do you? We aren’t meant to be cowering in a corner over the possibility of failure. Nor are we meant to be shy with the gifts that others (and probably even ourselves) have identified in us. Maybe your dream (the one that always uses the gifts that are unique to you!) just needs to be whispered to with the love of Grace. The Grace that doesn’t care about the failing or succeeding; but cares only for the trying and the trusting.
 
We are meant to boldly walk forward, one step at a time, be it ever so tiny, toward all that God has for us. Our abilities? Our strength? Any self-discipline we can muster? It’s all from a God who loves us so. And God knows you. And me. Oh yes He does! And He wisely knows how best to help us tweak our individual gifts and use them for His glory.
 
 
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I’d just bet that when we get lit from within with that ember of a dream that has ignited into a full-blown fire, God is up there smiling so widely. I imagine the angels are doing Holy fistpumps as we come suddenly discover what it is that we were meant to do. And when we get the courage to ask God for our next steps, He will give them.
 
And then? Stand back World! This is when it gets crazy exciting. When our God-given gifts collide with our God-given bravery, everything changes.
 
I want to be in that place of not worrying over the possibility of falling flat on my face in failure. I’m clinging to the hope of success. (Maybe with a little Ice Cream Therapy thrown in for good measure?)
 
 
Won’t you join me?