That’s been my phrase lately.
Making space in my home. Making space in my heart. Making space in my schedule.
A few months ago I left my teaching job of two years to pursue writing full-time. I received a lot of support from my co-workers, close friends and family as I gave away pieces of my classroom, packed up the two boxes of personal items, and headed for a path less traveled. But as I’ve begun the journey down this winding road, I’ve found the terrain to be a little rough.
Like with any big life change, people always have their questions and opinions, and it’s frustrated me that I haven’t been able to answer or address them. For whatever reason I haven’t been okay with saying “I don’t know what I’m doing next” because that doesn’t seem like a viable answer.
I’ve grown up in a culture that says you always need to know what’s next. But when the road you’re following is paved with faith, you don’t always have those answers.
So in an effort to appear like I know what I’m doing, I’ve stumbled through a response of how I’m pursuing writing full-time, trying to get a book published, and I’ll find some sort of side job to pay the bills. When I finish my less-than-concise reply, one of two things happens. The person will either offer their ideas about what I could or should be doing, or they will force a smile and nod politely because, let’s be honest, while many people aspire to be good writers, actually pursing writing as a career tends to have a starving artist persona attached to it. So I walk away feeling stupid and wondering why I’m even doing this.
Doubt has been a big battle lately, and not only because of the response from others.
I’ve wondered what I have to add to this field. I know I have something to say, stories to share, hope to give to people who need it. I’ve taken a big risk by stepping away from the familiar and from a steady paycheck, but I can’t help wondering if anyone is be willing to take a risk on me. I’m a new writer with very little experience beyond an edited manuscript and this blog. I look around and see so many talented and already published authors, and I wonder if I have what it takes.
And in the midst of all the doubt, God recently plopped two friends in front of me with words of encouragement and affirmation.
The first happened at a wedding. I was sitting nearby as a team of people helping transition the ceremony room into the reception area, when a friend from college came over. “I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your blog,” he said. “It’s nice to see someone pursing their dreams despite all the challenges.” As a fellow writer, he knew the struggles of dream-chasing, and I truly don’t have words to explain how much that brief conversation meant to me. It was a reminder that what I do does matter and that God uses what I share to encourage, challenge, and give hope.
The second uplifting encounter happened the very next day as I caught up with a friend at church. She asked me how things were going, what I was up to, and I answered honestly that I didn’t know. I’m waiting for God to show me what’s next. She nodded and spoke words my heart so longed to hear. “That’s good. Take all the time you need.”
Honestly, I had braced myself for more well-meaning words. But when she told me to take my time, my mouth dropped open a little and I stared at her for a moment before words of gratitude tumbled out. Those words gave me the freedom to let go of the expectations I’ve felt to know where I’m headed and just take the next step as the Lord shows me.
This week those steps have been small gestures of making space.
I’ve been investing in myself as a writer, putting my money where my mouth is and joining an online community that helps encourage and instruct writers in their craft. I’ve purchased a nifty little writing notebook and made space for ideas and goals. I put up a bulletin board I’ve nicknamed my “Inspiration Board” near the place where my writing desk will go (once I purchase one) because I know I will need physical reminders of why I’m doing what I’m doing. I know I’ll hit road blocks and writer’s block and I’ll need a place to avert my eyes for a second to take a breath.
The Lord and I have also been making space in my heart.
When He spoke the word Revive over me at the beginning of the year and asked what I wanted Him to revive, I gave Him a long list that ended with, “Lord, I want you to revive my heart.” I knew things had gotten a little messy in there. With my busy schedule and my desire to look like I have it all together, I’d stuffed a lot. Now the Lord has been making space for me to air out my emotions, and as a thinker, this has been a very painful process. I want to understand the logic of things, and emotions are never logical. I’ve had to tap into a different corner of myself I rarely visit, but I’m finding that to be freeing too. I hadn’t realized how much I’d hidden away and ignored.
With my heart needing tending to, I’ve had to make space in my schedule. I’ve been taking things slowly, trying not to schedule too much, and telling myself not to be aggravated when things don’t get done. I’ve been finding a slower pace that has given my soul a chance to breathe.
The Lord has been teaching me how to make room and be still; to not worry how I’m going to support myself because truly He is my Provider and He told me when I walked into this summer that He’d be teaching me to trust Him with my finances in a deeper way. I don’t need to fret over having all the answers. I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be, that I’m making good decisions as I seek the Lord’s direction. I’m letting go of this need to fit other’s expectations, and I’m learning what it means to chase a dream with God. It’s not about achieving or reaching, but holding tightly to His hand and following His lead.
I know the journey can be challenging once the excitement wears off, but I pray that if you’re in a place of dream-chasing or if you haven’t taken that leap yet, that you would be brave enough to take that risk. Let go of what’s known and expected and let God lead you into the beautiful wild.
Make some space for God to do His crazy work.
Clear out a corner in your house and set up shop.
Clear out an hour or two in your schedule to seek the Lord and chase the dream with Him.
Take risks, put your money where your mouth is and see what happens.
Invest in yourself, in your passions, in your gifts.
And as you walk this path, let your soul find a different rhythm of life, a slower pace that tells the world that you have nothing to prove to anyone. You’re in this for the long haul, following where the Lord leads.
As one dream-chaser to another, I wish you well in this journey. Remember, you don’t walk alone. May your move forward in the power, love, strength, boldness, and grace of Christ. And know that I’m cheering for you. It so encourages my heart to see people stepping out in faith to pursue those things God has placed on their hearts.
Go in boldness, dear heart.
And live in His love!
Related: Standing on the Edge of Your Dream