When it’s possible to run a business out of your purse, learn a foreign language on your phone, or become famous overnight on YouTube, the future seems like a menu of possibilities for those of a certain generation. As children, many of us were told to follow our dreams, which, as it turns out is both terrifying and wonderful. It can leave us paralyzed with indecision, or- in the best case scenario- it can motivate us to move forward and actually do it: venture into an intersection where faith meets action; where uncertainty about our abilities is eclipsed by a jolt of confidence that we can and will achieve what we want to.
Whether it’s starting a business, making a big move, or just giving up a conventional career to make your side gig your full-time gig, making the big leap into pursuing your passion at the expense of security can be scary. But there’s a greater challenge ahead on the Oregon trail of your following your dream: and that is remaining on the path, even when it begins to be an uphill climb, there’s a river bypass, your horses die, or your wagon wheels break. Your business may fail, you may run out of money, your submissions and auditions rejected. Challenges are almost always inevitable, especially if we want to do something great.
There’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve been looking at again and again for the past few years, because it both encourages me and confuses me, gives me hope, and also gives me the sense that I’m missing something still, even as I trust God. Romans 5:3-4 says:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I’m assured here that the challenges I’m facing and will face on my path to pursue my passion are actually going to benefit me. And not only that—difficulty isn’t going to take me down, but rather produce a hope with a result. In other words, the very thing I hope for will come to pass.
For a long time, I’ve looked at this and not understood why it is that hope will not “put me to shame,” or disappoint me. I’m coming to understand that the key is: can I receive God’s love in the situation? Can I relax a little when I’ve failed, knowing that I can really only live and function out of grace anyway? If I can treat hurdles, setbacks, and discouragement as opportunities to grow, knowing that difficulty is inevitable anyway, then I can celebrate challenge, then I can persevere.
Recently, I’ve made the decision to pursue a full-time career in writing. It feels risky, and even foolish to me, as I consider the challenges ahead. If you’re in my same boat, or a similar sort of boat, let me encourage you: keep the end goal in sight, the frontier, promised land. You’re getting stronger, bolder, and more tenacious with every step.