Be Brave This New Year
by Connie Mann
There is something exciting about the start of a new year. It’s like God hands us a blank slate, a fresh start, a do-over. All of last year’s days, both good and bad, are gone and we get to start again.
As I hang that shiny 2013 calendar, those big, blank squares fill me with optimism and hope. A new year and a new calendar mean new possibilities, new opportunities, more chances to make a difference.
Yet in the midst of dreaming and thinking about how to spend the next 365 days, a question has been haunting me. It’s a quote that has popped up so often, and in so many unexpected places, it feels like a neon sign warning me to pay attention. It keeps drawing my eye, tugging at my heart. It calls me to step out, to take action.
Frankly, I don’t think of myself as brave, less so the older I get. But the question tempts me. It whispers in my ear and entices me to take another step, to muster my courage and reach toward the future, to pursue new horizons.
What would YOU do if you were brave?
If you’re like me, somewhere deep inside, the answer whispers in your ear. You know.
So what are you going to do about it? What dream are you ignoring, what step of faith are you avoiding? What next steps do you long to take, but find yourself stalling instead? What fears hold you back?
My dream to write fiction began when I was a child, reading Little Women and Harriet the Spy. When I devoured all 1,000-plus pages of Gone With the Wind as a teen, the dream grew teeth and burrowed deep into my heart.
But then life intervened. Jobs, children, and family responsibilities took all my time. I wrote non-fiction, but told myself I didn’t have time for my fiction-writing dream. Why spend endless hours on something that won’t earn any money? At least, that’s what I told myself. Those excuses seemed far more acceptable than admitting a fear of failure. Or even a fear of success.
Eventually, though, the Creator who had first whispered the dream in my ear called me back to it. I wrote more fiction and sent it to publishers. Then came more stacks of rejection letters, more disappointments, more questioning of my abilities. I finally quit writing altogether and became a USCG-licensed boat captain. I loved being out on the water with people. I still do.
But once more, the great Creator called me back and I started writing and submitting stories again. Angel Falls, my upcoming romantic suspense, is set in southern Brazil, where my father was born. It tells the story of a fiercely protective orphanage director and a burned-out Army Ranger who never wants to protect anyone again. But with a small child’s life at stake, these two wounded hearts risk everything—including trusting each other.
Behind the story, of course, is the rest of the story. By the time Angel Falls hits bookstore shelves in March, it will be ten years since I first began writing it. Sometimes, this “overnight success” business takes a very long time!
Dreams are like that. There is usually a cost involved and results are never instantaneous. But they are oh, so worth pursuing.
As we start a new year, it’s time to haul out that dream you’ve been guarding. Dust it off and drag it out into the light. Now is the time to make a fresh start, to begin again.
Start by acknowledging the tension
You will never have time to follow your dream. Extra hours will never magically appear in your schedule. You will have to believe in your dream strongly enough to take the time. To carve out bits and pieces of minutes and hours and claim them as yours.
Will there be opposition? Most definitely. Anytime someone shakes up the status quo, dissension falls out. If your kids are used to your undivided attention, there will be an adjustment period. That’s okay. Expect it and deal with it.
Ditch the guilt
Somehow, moms especially, suffer huge guilt pangs whenever we do anything just for ourselves. Doing anything at all that takes time or money away from our families strikes us as selfish and wrong.
That’s false guilt. Let it go. The truth is that God has gifted you in unique ways and given you individual talents that can’t be duplicated by anyone else. If you don’t follow your dream and take next steps, the world will miss out on your gifts.
Remember the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Dreams aren’t realized in a day, either. They may start small, but like a house’s foundation, if we keep adding one brick at a time, deliberately and carefully, eventually, we’ll have a beautiful house.
Enjoy the process
Most dreams require a learning curve before they can be realized. Whatever the dream, there are skills needed. Learning those skills isn’t always fun. It can be downright boring, actually. It usually means practice, research, time, investigation, or more schooling. But when you go in for surgery, aren’t you glad the surgeon practiced making the right cut?
Look for the joy along each step of the journey. Celebrate progress, no matter how small, and invite others to celebrate with you
Take that leap of faith into your dream. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to “Be strong and courageous.” Take one step today. You know the one. And take another one tomorrow. And the next day.
Connie Mann loves encouraging women to reach their dreams, so she blogs at: www.BusyWomenBigDreams.com and speaks on perseverance and the writing craft. Her upcoming romantic suspense, Angel Falls, will be released in March 2013. She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not writing, she’s usually on Central Florida’s waterways with local school children or her fabulous family. Come visit her online at: www.conniemann.com.