A Wish Come Clear

Choosing Love, Losing Fear, & Finding Home

Tempted to Throw in the Towel? Read This.

I love hearing about the times they almost gave up.

Field of Dream(ers), 2013

And by ‘they,’ I mean our heroes. You have your own examples: how Albert Einstein was considered a slow learner in grade school, how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. As a writer, I take heart every time I hear about a literary great who almost threw in the towel.

I love reading about how the Bronte sisters almost didn’t submit their novels for publication (or claim authorship after they were published under male pseudonyms), or how Madeleine L’Engle tried to give up writing on her fortieth birthday, after a decade of rejection slips  and just before A Wrinkle In Time was published.

And one of my favorite posts on Glennon Melton’s phenomenally successful and beloved Momastery is an obscure one from back in 2010, in which Glennon admits to thoughts of giving up writing online, “… because I’m really, really scared that I’m going to start sucking and [readers aren't] going to like me anymore.”

Can you imagine? Can you imagine what the world would look like if these women had given up?

All right, I admit it, my world would be rocked more than most, because they are among my favorite writers and my bookcase would be barren without their work. But our heroes don’t have to be famous to matter. Far from it.

I often wonder, in an It’s A Wonderful Life sort of way, “Where would I be without my friend Tammy’s encouragement? Would I ever have learned to drive a stick-shift or self-published two books if she hadn’t believed in me? And what about my friend Brooke? Where would I be if she hadn’t been brave enough to follow her dream of going to Vassar? How would I carry on, stay sane, and keep the faith without my husband, my family, every beloved friend?”

We owe so much to the courage of others.

***

All this is on my mind today because I’ve been waiting on some (potentially big) things in my writing life to move forward. After flying through a series of green lights, I’ve been waiting at a long yellow one.

I need to speak in metaphor for now; I promise to give details when (and if) things come together. But I tell you this to say that, if you’re discouraged and down about your dream, I get it. It is hard to keep the faith. It is hard to wait and work and hope for a dream that might never come true.

But what I’ve come to realize in this season of waiting is that nothing is wasted. I’m coming to see that, even if what I hope for never comes to pass, I will still be so thankful to have tried. I will not regret telling my stories, because — regardless of outcome — telling stories is what I was meant to do.

***

Here’s the thing: we can give up on our calling. We can quit 50 times a day if that’s what we need to do, if that’s how scared we are. But even so, our callings will NOT give up on us.

Whoever it is you’re supposed to be, whatever it is you’re supposed to do? It follows you around. They don’t call it a ‘calling’ for nothing — it does have a voice. A really, really persistent one.

So for all of you who sense a calling — be it to parent or sing or write or build or teach — please, don’t give up. We need you. We need your specific contribution. You may not see how or why, and that’s okay. Just stay faithful. Just keep on. Just for today.

Because even if it’s just one person that needs what you have to offer … well, that’s everything. Giving hope to one person is more than enough. And you know this already, don’t you? You’ve seen it happen. When you put your heart on the line and one person is moved, everything changes.

In that instant — when someone looks at you through tear-filled eyes after hearing you speak, seeing you dance, or listening to your song — you see that your dream wasn’t really even ABOUT you at all. Instead, it was about that one person who needed you to be exactly who you are.

The value of your gift was never measured by whether or not you had your name in lights. It was always about the people who would have been bereft without it, without you. And when you realize that?

You’re home free.

***

Tempted to give up on a dream? Join the conversation in the comments!

***

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About Caroline McGraw

I'm a would-be childhood paleontologist and recovering perfectionist turned full-time writer, digging for treasure in people and uncovering sacred stories in ordinary days. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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11 Replies

  1. Tam

    I can say, my dear friend is…what timing?! I will be sharing this one with hubby tonight as it may be exactly what he also needs to hear today. Love you.

    1. I’m so glad the post came at a good time for you, my dear! That’s very encouraging to hear. Also, thank you for being YOU. I love you too.

  2. Tam

    That is…’all I can say…’ :)

  3. Thanks for this, Caroline. It’s easy to get discouraged in the writing business, but when I remember that I’m writing for others (whom I may not even know), it’s easier to keep going even when it feels like nothing is happening. I appreciate this reminder!

    1. You’re most welcome, Kenetha! I know I always need reminders too — and it’s amazing how they come when we need them most. Write on, sister!

  4. Donna

    Thank you, Princess, for saying that so well!! We think we have to be the knight in shining armor, but being true to our calling will do more. Well done!!

  5. Dorothy Copps

    Hey Caroline!!! Great writing! Since Tom and I are at a new junction in our lives and not really willing to call “the rocking chair” our new callings, this was wonderful to read.

    I loved how you said our callings follow us around. “they do have a voice, you know”? loose quote, sorry.

    Looking forward to seeing you and Jonathan in November. I will be close to serving my last month at L’Arche, DC. at that point in time.

    loveya, Dorothy

    1. Dorothy, thank you! I’m so glad the post met you where you are. I/we are so looking forward to seeing you next month, and hearing more about this new junction/adventure in your lives! Biggest hugs…

  6. Thanks Caroline! This post speaks the words that my soul has been trying to proclaim to my heart. Namely, TRUST. Trust that you are called to speak what God has poured into you. Trust that it may be an important word of encouragement for even one person. Trust God to take your seemingly puny effort and multiply it according to His perfect will. Trust and keep going by faith. For if you don’t… The voice of your calling will haunt you till you do. Caroline, you blessed and encouraged me with this post. Thank you!! Xoxooo

    1. Kathy, I’m so glad! Thank you for sharing this piece of your journey … I look forward to hearing about your next steps and seeing you next month too! xoxoxoxoxox