~ Guest Post by Amy Steingard ~
Hey you. I know what you’re thinking today.
Yesterday, you said, “Tomorrow I’m going to start that thing, dream, book, calling, work.”
You know what your thing is. It’s tap dancing right on your heart, and it’s impossible to ignore.
And then this morning hit in a flurry of cereal with spilled milk, lost homework, dirty diapers, and the middle child home with the stomach flu that you know will run through your entire family. You surrender to your circumstances and say a defeated, “Tomorrow.”
I’m with you, sister. There’s a dream in my heart, too, that sometimes feels buried under the clutter and weight of motherhood and life. I feel like I am never going to get there…never going to have the time or the emotional fortitude to make that dream happen. A bad day with my kids can cause me to question EVERYTHING about myself and the work I want to do.
Hi, I’m Amy. I yelled at my kids today and ate chocolate in the bathroom with a screaming toddler 6 inches on the other side of the door, but my passion in life is to be an encourager of women.
I will blame motherhood and lack of time all the live long day. I will blame my kids, my husband, my house, my lack of resources. I make excuses why I can’t do the thing right now, and while all those are valid and persuasive reasons to not pursue my dream, deep down it’s all an underhanded cop-out.
Those things that we claim hold us back, that’s just life, and, frankly, life has wisdom of it’s own. Life and, most specifically, our imperfections are what makes us endlessly fascinating. Kathryn Craft explains this better than I ever can, “[Life] dumps s— on you and stirs you up until your soil is fertile. Accept the challenge and plant some seeds. This is how artists grow.”
While I let my circumstances erroneously justify my lack of action, the common denominator here is me.
What really what holds me back is my own fear. It’s that question of who am I to…? It’s feeling like a fraud and afraid of being exposed. It’s feeling like I don’t know enough, have enough, or am enough.
Deep down, we know that real, raw, and true part of us is worth something. Our dreams are worth something. And if it’s worth something, it’s scarier to put it out there and be rejected for it. We shy away from it. We sit it down and tell it no. We call it selfish. We stuff it down and make it small, and we live our lives paralyzed, always dreaming and never realizing that dream.
Recently, I went out with a friend who I hadn’t connected with in a long time. We ended up talking late into the night, eventually both tentatively sharing some dreams brewing in our hearts. After I said, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” for about the 15th time, she stopped me.
Yes, you do. You can totally do this. That doubt is not serving you well.
She’s right, you know.
When I’m staring down my dream, one minute it feels exciting and exhilarating, and the next it feels impossible and even a little absurd. But not living into that dream hurts worse than actually doing it.
When aspiration and doubt exist at the same time (and they most certainly do), I have to ask myself, “Am I being motivated by love or by fear?”
Not pursuing your dreams, that’s a choice motivated by fear. That’s why it hurts so much. If I choose to squander the gifts and voice God’s given me, I am an empty vessel. I am living, mothering, and working hollowed out. It’s a great loss.
God is asking me to simply be the thing he’s already created me to be. I don’t need to become as much as I need to simply be who I already am. Imperfect, yes. But mighty too.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her book, Big Magic, “The central question upon which all creative living hinges: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
I believe the greatest treasure we hide is our authenticity.
It is the most vulnerable part of us, the truest part of us. It’s what God put inside of each one of us that makes us unique, that makes us powerful and effective in our lives. It feels both too big and yet too normal to be significant.
It’s the seeds springing up from ground made fertile by loss and hardship and joy and love, because those never translate into too much or not enough. We offer ourselves, our voices, our gifts, small as they may be, because that’s where we come alive.
That’s our authenticity- and authenticity moves people more than anything else. Perfection and even originality can’t hold a candle to it. Those things separate us.
Authenticity connects us and makes us bump into each other. It’s not always graceful, but it’s the beginning of something amazing.
It’s the only place to start and the only place anything worth creating will be birthed.
Birth – the most authentic work we have ever done.
We labored in love for the miracle to come. We grew and breathed and groaned and pushed. We created someone who was fully and truly of us, because there simply wasn’t any other way. It seemed impossible, but we did the work because we knew what waited on the other side. Insanely difficult becoming insanely beautiful.
Our dreams are no less difficult and no less beautiful. They are no less worthy of our work and our struggle.
But we have to choose love over fear. We have to stop blaming everyone else, and start believing in ourselves. We have to stop imitating, because we feel like we aren’t enough. We have to be faithful right where we are and do the work, however tiny it may be.
We have to ask ourselves who am I not to…?
St Catherine of Siena declared, “Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.”
Who am I not to be who I am created to be? Do what I am created to do? Set the world on fire?
We create from our significance, not for it.
This is always, always where we begin.