A few weeks ago my friend Sophie and I had an impromptu wine and movie night. We shuffled through her stack of DVDs settled on a retro, stupid-funny movie called Superstar. If you’ve ever heard someone say “SUPERSTARRR” in a weird whisper voice, this is where that comes from. 20-something-year-old Will Ferrell is the main character’s dreamy crush and the snooty, blonde stepmom from Parent Trap is the popular mean girl. Most of the movie was absolutely ridiculous. And when I say ridiculous, I mean the lead Mary Katherine Gallagher, a quirky Catholic school girl desperate for her first real kiss, talks dirty to a stop sign and other inanimate objects for practice. But there were some surprisingly sincere takeaways. When Mary’s grandma finally gets on-board with her granddaughter’s dream of being a “SUPERSTAR” (aka winning the school talent show), she tells Mary she must compete well and for herself, not just to win over her crush.
If you’ve scrolled back through my blog, you may have noticed that several months went by when I posted absolutely nothing. “Where’d she go?” you wondered.
It’s not that my life was suddenly on pause and nothing eventful happened. Rather, I had lost, who seemed to be, one of my biggest fans. After choosing to end my wedding engagement, my calling ran for cover. Writing was painful and altogether too vulnerable. But as I began to heal, God breathed life back into my love of words. People started popping up all over, encouraging me to write. I ran into a coworker between meetings who told me out-of-the-blue that he’d read my blog, and that I’m a good writer. A sweet girl in the high-school small group that I lead texted me to say that she also likes my posts. A woman who recently interviewed me added a P.S. to her email, “Your FaithClimbs blog is awesome!” (That made my day, and I got the job!) The list goes on: my mom left Experience Life magazine on my desk one day, open to a feature story about writers’ workshops. Subtle like a train, Momma. And after a month or two of my writing drought, my brother asked, “How come you don’t blog anymore?” I discovered that God was placing support all around me if only I would open up to receive it.
What’s more, my Heavenly Father showed me that had given far too much power to one source of support, and it was the wrong one altogether. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, because you know that you will receive inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” My new-found independence forced me to evaluate whether writing was something I did through my ex fiance’s support, or something I still do through the Lord’s because He designed me to love it. God made me in such a way that I delight in learning, being deep in thought, reading for hours on end, sprinkling grammar over text, and playing with words. And that’s not something even a gnarly break up can change. Although God blesses us with encouragement from those around us, our motivation to work and exercise our gifts must ultimately be rooted in Him, not other human beings.
Reader, your support means so much to me. I hope and pray that my words bless you and brighten your day, but I actually don’t care if you like every post that I write or share them on social media. I write because it’s play for me, and more than that, it’s a key way that I glorify God. This year, I found that there comes a point when you must decide whether or not something is “a calling” that God gave you, or just another thing others have thrust upon you. Heck, these others might even be your closest loved ones. If a calling or passion is yours and you know it—you probably do it in your free time—you have chase it with all you have, to actually try, even though it’s the scariest thing in the world. Failing is a risk, and it’s the real you on the line. The good news is failure is a better teacher than success. And failing becomes less scary once you just start that thing that, deep-down, you’ve wanted to try. After all, the Creator of the Universe loves you unconditionally no matter how badly you flop.
Before bed last night, I was reading The Happiness Project, the #1 New York Times Best Seller on—you guessed it—happiness and how to have more of it. In the chapter “Aiming Higher,” the author Gretchen Rubin talks about work. Gretchen admires her sister who un-apologetically knows who she is and marches to the beat of her own drum. One time she and her sister were talking, and Gretchen confessed a deep-rooted need for “legitimacy” in her career that had been guiding her choices. I doubt I’m the only one who relates. Gretchen soon-after realized that writing, not law, is what’s right for her (pun intended). Reading this reminded me of how my brother called me out when I stopped writing. Those closest to us play an invaluable role of speaking truth to us when we’re afraid, in denial, or blatantly self-unaware. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Like a good sports bra, having a strong tribe of supporters helps.
Yet like all healthy things, the influence others have on our choices should have its limits. Many brilliant, loving people extend me well-meaning advice on a regular basis. My brother is especially good at pointing out when things I write come off as weird, and I’m legitimately so grateful for it. But it’s ultimately up to us and God to own and protect our ambitions. Gretchen puts it this way, “As I worked on the blog, I often had to remind myself to ‘Be Gretchen’ and to be faithful to my vision of my project” (pg. 77). Everyone and their mother has an opinion, but it’s your life.
I guess my point is that the people in your tribe and their level of support may vary from season to season, and that’s okay. God’s encouragement and infinite love for you remain constant. In response to our strong discomfort with change, Isiah 43: 18-19 says:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
If the Lord has set you on a path, professional or otherwise, He will ensure that the stars align in His time, in His way, and with the right people by your side. If you commit your work to the Lord, your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3). Genesis 12:2-4 confirms this, “…I will bless those who bless you, and the one who dishonors you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him.” The Lord knows what He’s doing; we just need to go forth and do what the Lord is speaking to us.
Spoiler alert! At the end of the movie, Mary Katherine Gallagher’s big, post-show kiss with Will Ferrell isn’t butterflies and fireworks. She says a prayer just before she goes on stage, surrendering her “SUPERSTAR” dream to God and admitting her selfishness. She ends up winning the talent show with dramatic flair and the support of her biggest fans: God, herself, her dear grandmother, and her best girlfriend. Also not-surprisingly-but-still-cute, the guy who had loved her as she was all along gave her the real kiss she’d been hilariously praying for. You go, Mary Katherine Gallagher.