I sat at the kitchen counter last week and signed a book contract while Brad snapped my picture. That’s right, a real book contract with a real publisher [Baker Books!].There’s a catch, though: the contract is not for what I consider my book, my memoir – the book that took me 2.5 years to write and another 2 years for which to land an agent. It’s not for the book that I started writing when my now seven-year old was still an infant. It’s not a contract for the book of my heart – the book that led me back to God.
It’s for an entirely different book. I admit, when Rachelle called me last May to tell me Baker Books was looking for someone to write a book called 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, I was lukewarm. After all, this wasn’t my dream, to write this kind of book. This wasn’t the plan I had all mapped out in my head, complete with bullet points and check lists. This “other book” wasn’t what my dream was supposed to look like.
I had it all figured out, of course. I wrote the memoir to give other waffly Christians like me hope. I wrote my story as a testament to the fact that God transforms even the most stubborn, unbelieving people. That was the story I wanted published. That story was my dream. This other book was all wrong; it didn’t fit. It wasn’t part of The Plan.
I’d long forgotten, of course, that it wasn’t my plan to begin with.
Somewhere along the way I made God’s plan my plan. I took God’s dream for me and obsessed over it, managed it, shaped it, controlled it, molded it and defined it according to what I thought it should look like and how I wanted it to unfold.
In short, I transformed God’s dream for me into an idol.When I first told the kids at dinner a few weeks ago that it was official – I was going to get a book published – they were astonished.
“Really??!! Your book??!! You’re finally going to get your book published?” Rowan screeched, his eyes wide and bright with excitement.
“Well, not my book exactly,” I said quietly. “I mean, it will be my book …but it’s not the one I’ve been talking about forever, the one I already wrote. This is a different book. A new book.”The kids paused. I looked down at my plate.
“But you know what this means, right?” Noah said suddenly, sitting up straight in his chair. “This means you go from being a writer to being an author! A real author, with, like, a book in the bookstore and everything!”
I smiled at my boys sitting across from me at the table, my eyes tearing. “You know,” I said to Noah, “I hadn’t thought of it that way until right this minute.”
Up to that point I’d been less than excited about this book. In fact, when I told close friends and family members about it, a distinct note of apology tinged my voice. I felt disappointed and, while not like a total failure, at least like I’d missed the mark a bit.
It turns out, after all my reshaping and refining, I'd defined the dream too narrowly – so narrowly, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the dream when it began to unfold in a way I didn’t expect.
I was so caught up in the fact that this dream didn’t exactly resemble the one I had crafted for myself, I missed a very important detail, a detail that Noah’s exuberant dinner table declaration jarred back into place.
That night, sitting across the table from my beaming boys, I realized that the dream is still alive, unfurling right here, right now, right before my very eyes. It’s a God-inspired, God-planned and God-led dream, and just because it looks different than I imagined, doesn’t mean it’s not very, very good.
So tell me…has a dream of yours ever turned out differently than you’d imagined?
One more thing...you've heard about Jumping Tandem: The Retreat, right? I'll be talking about this very topic there in April (because believe me, I have a lot more to say!), plus there's going to be a ton of other dream-related speakers. If you've got a dream (and I know you do), you don't want to miss this.
And Emily at Imperfect Prose:
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