I confess that I’m a teeny-tiny bit overwhelmed right now … in a good way, of course. But, yes, overwhelmed is the right word. Just today my 8th grade boys were like, “Are you stressed, Mrs. Dallas?” As hard as I am trying to maintain a normal energy level, I guess the stress of all these changes still shows sometimes. I have never had to make so many decisions – and these have been decisions on TOP of all the other decisions I make on a daily basis. I’m definitely moving further and further out of my comfort zone and yet, I feel great about it. I love a fresh challenge (no matter how tiring the journey can be!) and publishing a book has definitely been a challenge.
And this particular challenge, like all new experiences, is showing me some things in a new or different light. You know how when you get a new car, you start noticing that type of car everywhere you go? Or once you’ve been through something, you start noticing others going through the same thing? In the same way, certain lessons that I’ve either heard or taught several times are hitting me a little differently now that I’m trying something new. One such thing that struck me differently this year is the book The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I teach it every year to my 8th graders. It’s an interesting parable with thought-provoking themes and morals. Kino, the main character, discovers the Pearl of the World – a pearl that is the size of a chicken egg and should rightfully guarantee him wealth. He starts to make plans for his wealth – noble, innocent plans which include a church marriage, education for his son, and a rifle. There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with these plans, but there was a line in the book that really struck me.
“A plan once made and visualized becomes a reality along with other realities – never to be destroyed but easily attacked. Thus Kino’s future was real, but having set it up, other forces were set up to destroy it, and this he knew, so that he had to prepare to meet the attack.” (Steinbeck, p. 29)
I’ve read this a million times, but this year the truth of it really struck me. I feel like this is almost a spiritual truth. Once we set our sight on a goal or decide to change our lives in a good way, the forces that would come up against us also seem to be put in motion. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, because I really am not, but I do feel that every good plan should consider all angles, all possibilities, and all potential pitfalls in order to be successful. And I think this is where my exhaustion is coming from – what could go wrong, where are we weak, what am I missing here, where do I need to prepare better …? The list goes on and on. And I won’t begin to lay out all the pointless irrational fears that can plague me at night in quiet moments (Who is going to hate me once this book is published…? Who will find something wrong with the book…? Etc.) It’s ridiculous to play “what if” – I know that. There’s no possible way I can know what will happen or not happen. And, really, I kind of like that … there’s something fun about taking a leap of faith. The last time I did that was to become a teacher and I’ve never looked back on that choice. And wow, how God has blessed my experiences in teaching – I never knew I could love so many teenagers!
But I want to be prepared at the same time. So I look to my Heavenly Father for wisdom and guidance as I sail further into uncharted territory. And I follow Christ’s example and seek to be more like Him each day. In fact, there is a verse that God really used to push me along in this endeavor … Proverbs 16:3.
There was a night when I was really struggling with the idea of independently publishing. It had been a long process to even get to the place where I would consider it. My husband and my family were so excited about independent publishing, and I had this huge support system around me rearing and ready to go if I would just say the word. And yet, I was the one who wasn’t excited. Most people hear that and go, “What is your problem, girl? You have people who believe in you!” I was fighting with myself over the decision – this wasn’t how I wanted to do it, I envisioned something different, it would be a lot of work, I would need help, I was scared of messing things up … so many fears.
So I got on the treadmill. (I need to encounter emotional stress more often – it helps me lose weight.) And I put on my worship music and basically argued with God for awhile about the whole thing while running out my frustration. “God, you gave me this idea for a book. I thought You wanted to use it differently. Is this really what You want or are we jumping the gun here?” And Proverbs 16:3 kept coming to my mind –> don’t ever tell me God doesn’t speak to us. The Bible is a powerful speaker when you study it and listen. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”
But God, I want my plans to be YOUR plans! I need to know what YOU want first.
“Commit to Me whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”
But does that mean this is Your plan???
“Commit to Me WHATEVER YOU DO and your plans will succeed.” (Is anybody else getting it before I did??)
And if that wasn’t enough … Proverbs 16:9 started rattling around in my head.
And then that was it. I stopped the treadmill, took a deep breath, (pouring out sweat and tears by that point), and said, “Okay, let’s do this.” And I haven’t regretted it or questioned it since. I don’t think that God wanted me to know exactly what His plan was – I think He wanted to see if my heart would follow Him in whatever endeavor I attempted. I think He wanted to me to just jump and let Him lead without question. Where did we learn in our faith that we are always supposed to sit back and wait on God to show us something? Sometimes He calls us out without any warning. Sometimes I think He says, “You’ve walked with me. Now go ahead and choose – and I will bless it. Just commit your plans to me and stick with it.” Sometimes I think we are to be people of action – DOERS of the Word, not just HEARERS.
After all, Proverbs 16:9 was also telling me, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
That’s enough for me.
So we don’t look back. We’re a GO.