January 6, 2012
I’ve been talking this week about hope. Today I want to tell you a little bit of a personal story with a little teaching added in.
I’ve often thought of myself a ‘Jack of all trades’. And it is true that I have done a lot in my lifetime and been very good and talented at most of them. I attribute the talent and success to God.
But just being good at something doesn’t always mean that is your dream, especially when you are good at many things. We are told in the bible that everything we put our hand to will prosper so it stands to reason as a child of God we will be good at many things.
That is how we often get pigeon-holed into certain jobs. We get a little experience in an area and then find that we are successful at it. Then we get promoted or move to another company doing what we seem to do best.
But this doesn’t mean it is our dream.
Somewhere along the way I think most of us stop and think that we may be successful, but what we are doing doesn’t feel fulfilling. I know for many years just the challenges and goals of becoming successful in whatever I was doing were very fulfilling. But somewhere along the way the ‘been there done that’ syndrome began to set in.
I reached a point where I began searching God for my purpose. I wanted to know what vocation on this earth I was meant to do. I prayed for fulfillment in what I was doing at the time. I sincerely wanted to do everything as unto the Lord.
But the feeling of emptiness vocationally was huge! I was literally at a point of begging God for a way out. I didn’t even know where to go, but needed out and needed to know where. I was truly in a desperate state.
Even though that is a very interesting story, that is not the story I want to tell today. The story I want to tell you today is much later down the road.
God did show me a way out. He did give me a dream. He gave me a dream that I knew was from Him.
It started out slow, but soon gained momentum. I had a lot of learning and changing to do along the way to achieve that dream, and I did.
I suppose in many areas I am a type A personality. However once the newness or the challenge wears off, I toddle off to the next bright shiny bobble (new uncharted task/challenge). So I’m not sure what personality type I genuinely am. But most who know me well know how hard I work. Now please don’t start congratulating me on this because this is what my story today is all about.
If you are wondering about the dream God has given me it is to be a jewelry designer. He has made that dream come true, but my vision is really quite large and I am nowhere near where I want to be yet.
This January starts my 4th year on the path of this dream. The business has grown and grown and God continues to amaze me and open new doors every day. There is growth, but it is peaceful and pleasantly paced. But it hasn’t always been like this.
Early on as I began to see my dream taking off and things growing, my creative marketing juices began to flow regarding the many things I could do to grow my business and reach my dream quicker. I had thousands of great ideas. My only challenge was which ones to implement first.
I can tell you there was one year that I worked so hard I got sick, discouraged and broken hearted. I was obsessed with working on the dream. My mind was always on it, my time was dedicated to it and there were a few great successes. But near the end of that year every single thing I did to promote my business seemed to hit a brick wall.
I can’t tell you exactly what I was feeling. I knew God had given me this dream. I felt like the good ideas I had chosen to implement were give by Him so I worked very hard to do them. Then poof, nothing would happen.
That was around the end of 2010. In January of 2011 after a lot of praying and soul searching I shoved it all back on the table and virtually quit. Not practically, but I told the Lord that if He wasn’t in it, if He wasn’t going to prosper it, then I didn’t want any part of it.
I was genuine and sincere. There is no part of my life that I want if God isn’t in it.
I questioned whether He had really given me this dream. I questioned all the great ideas I had had about marketing and promotion. I questioned if it had been my ‘god’ and I had shifted my spiritual loyalty without knowing it. I questioned everything a person could question.
God began to show me that almost all that I had done the previous year was to work, work, work hard, excruciatingly hard on pushing, pushing, pushing my business to grow, to reach that goal, to make that dream happen. He showed me that the few huge successes I’d had were totally apart from all my hard work and just how fruitless my hard work had been.
So I began to pray and ponder. I knew we had to work at whatever we do. To achieve any goal there is something required of us. But I knew I needed to find the balance.
Now before I finish this little story let me give you an illustration that may help you. God gave it to me and it sure helped.
Let’s look at two boats, a rowboat and a sailboat. I like both.
When the sky is clear and the lake is smooth, I enjoy a fun little row on the lake. I like the energy it exerts and the way I can move across the water with just a push of the paddle. But if you were to put me in the rowboat and tell me to row to the other side as quickly as I can I’d probably faint.
If I had to do it, I would wear myself out trying. But no doubt the task would be hard and not so much fun anymore. I might even get there, that is if the water stayed calm and there were no other hindering factors. Yes, I might get there, but I’d be worn out when I got there.
Now let’s think about the sailboat. There is definitely work involved. You have to work with the sails and the wind. It takes some skill and a lot of practice to get it just right. But this I know, you can move across the lake at a much greater speed with far less work in a sailboat than you can in a rowboat.
So what is my point you say. Well God showed me that I was approaching my business as if I were in a row boat. I was working and working hard to get to the other side. The successes I’d had had nothing to do with how hard I had rowed.
Then he showed me that in the sailboat the wind would push me if I would just pay attention to where the wind was going. The Holy Spirit is the wind in our sails but we must make sure that our sails are positioned correctly and that we are watching and waiting and responding correctly.
The hard work on a sailboat is actually quite fun. There are even times when you can tie off the sail and just sit back and relax and do nothing. In fact if you have the right wind and your sails are positioned correctly, you will go for a very long time and not have to tend to them.
A rower in a rowboat will aim directly at the goal and row as hard toward that goal as they can, all the while wearing themselves out. They will be fighting the current and fighting the wind, propelled forward by their own sheer force of will and strength.
A sailor in a sailboat will tack back and forth crisscrossing from side to side as the wind directs them, rarely ever heading in a direct line. But the speed with which they arrive at the goal is much quicker and the sailor is refreshed and exuberant.
In January of 2011 I got out of my rowboat and got into my sailboat. I literally told God that if the jewelry business was to happen then He would have to make it happen. I did not trust myself at that point to move forward in any direction. So I waited for the wind.
For months the dream looked stagnate. I had a few sales here and there but nothing of any notoriety. I wasn’t making any jewelry at all and I certainly wasn’t promoting it.
After many, many months I was almost at the point of being heartsick. My hope had been deferred and I was really starting to think that God had not given me the dream and that I should just abandon it all. I was even ready to do that and without regret. There had been a resolve in me that I did not want anything that God was not promoting or prospering in my life and that included my dream.
But there was still a tiny flicker inside. A tiny bit of hope. So I waited and just went on about my life – content. Content without the dream.
Then one day I got a call about an opportunity. Then I started getting orders again from out of the blue! Then another call came about another great opportunity. Then an email came and then more orders. The business was alive again and growing and growing fast and I had done NOTHING to make it happen.
I’m not sure that I can convey all that I genuinely learned in that year. There are some truths that the Holy Spirit reveals in your spirit man that change you and can’t be taken away, but that you can’t quite articulate to others.
But this I now know.
My business is growing more every day.
It is growing at a pace that is peaceful for me to accommodate.
The growth has been at a rate that I can manage.
The step by step goals are clearer so that I know what the next step is.
I’m not worn out, fatigued or burned out.
I’m energized and excited more everyday about my goal.
I am free of the anxiety to push to make it happen.
I am able to take the ideas I have and implement them in a timely manner.
I have much greater confidence (hope) that it will happen.
And I am enjoying the ride.
My business experienced a great Fall season in 2011. I was very pleased and grateful. Was it where I want it to be someday? No, but I couldn’t be happier!
This past week God has re-energized me even further with more vision of my dream and goals to get there. At first I felt that drive start to fire up in me to start to make it happen right now, but then I realized where that gets me. Sometimes we must resist the urge to rush forward in eagerness.
Timing is everything and I must lay a solid foundation and then build upon it and riding in the sailboat has taught me that.
So let me talk to you a bit about your dream. I know you all have one, maybe several. Your dream may be as simple as losing weight, excercising more, getting out of dept or learning a new skill.
I’ll bet you are just like me in that when you first get a dream or a goal, you push, push, push with all your might make it happen out of pure zeal. You may be at that place right now where you are pushing.
However you may be at the place where you are just getting tired. You’ve pushed and pushed with marginal success and just don’t have the energy or desire to push anymore.
And you may be way past that to where you have just given up. It was too hard to make it happen. So honestly it is hard for you to even dream anymore. You know you don’t have it in you to make it happen so you don’t even try.
I’ve noticed that there are people out there who don’t just push themselves, but they push others too. They genuinely believe that it is soley up to us to make it happen. They feel the need to motivate (force) others forward.
Just do it!
Don’t give up and quit pushing hard!
Building a dream can work you hard, day and night for a time!
Don’t let up! Keep working hard to propel yourself even further!