Surrender has always perplexed me. I mean, how do you just…stop fighting. Stop trying. Give up—willingly. It’s like one of those trust test things, where you’re blind folded and have to fall back into someone.
I like to pull lessons out of things that happen in my life. And for the past month, I’ve been thinking: what have I learned from changing WIPs? What…what was God trying to teach me there? (a necessary thing to figure out if I was going to write a post on it 😉
I wrote down a dozen ideas that were all “okay” but none really spoke to me. I usually get my best inspiration for blog posts during random moments, when I sit down at the keyboard with only a vague idea of what I want to write, so I realized I had to stop trying so hard to come up with a great post.
And it was there that the topic for today came.
Because I believe that chasing dreams and callings requires an extreme amount of trust, an ability to surrender.
Back in July, I wrote a post called “Dreams and Callings—the best is yet to come.” It was inspired by Matthew 10:39, and in it, I talked about how God doesn’t call us to do “One Thing.” We can be servants to Him in more than one thing. And near the end, I shared a wonderful analogy that my mom uses about holding on to dreams too tightly. We have to keep our dreams in open hands, so if God tries to take them away, we don’t end up wrestling against Him. And I understood the analogy. I thought I’d got it through and through when, last year, I had to stop dancing due to injury.
But guess what happened with Found, my novel?
I held onto it too tightly.
I’m chuckling to myself at the sheer irony of it (God has a wonderful sense of humor!). I felt as though I’d learned a lesson about holding on to dreams too tightly, but now the same lesson blindsided me and I almost didn’t recognize it.
You see, I’d been rewriting my novel, Found, multiple times over the past year. It never came out quite right, so I decided to put my foot down and set a deadline to finish it and send it off to an editor. I gripped that deadline real tight and didn’t intend to let go.
Then I realized I would have to rewrite the novel again—possibly. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to finish this novel so I could move on to the sequel, then the finale, and have this trilogy idea that had been dominating my thoughts for three years all wrapped up.
A little voice in the back of my head said “you don’t have to do this. There is no one—save yourself—who says you have to do this.”
That was right, of course. But I wanted this novel done. I wanted to share it. I just…wanted it to be the way I wanted it to be. Not too much to ask, right? 😉
Switching to this new WIP would be a hassle. I didn’t know the characters. I didn’t even have a title. I just had a random phrase and a Pinterest board. For goodness’ sake, I didn’t even know if the idea would turn out any good! I could have to scrap the whole thing! It could take me another two or three years to be published! All my plans would be upended! I didn’t want that.
But I think God did. It was a way out of the stress I’d been pounding on myself and my (admittedly) unrealistic goal of publishing before next summer.
To go back to that analogy my mom used, I think God started tugging at the dream I was grasping tightly. I tugged back. Then, I suddenly saw just what I was doing and how this struggle was going to end with me on the ground, discouraged and angry. So I decided to let go of that novel, that dream, take the trust fall, and see what happened.
The future looked empty, like an unexplored planet. A place where blank notebook pages and new plot bunnies abounded. (sorry for the silly imagery xD) It felt weird. I felt off balance, a little less motivated than before, but a whole lot calmer. Had it not been for that WIP idea (When Real Lies) I probably would have sat around for a few days asking “what now?”
But I’ve been thinking for the past month, as I’ve wandered deeper into this new WIP of mine, just what a beautiful thing surrender is. We can’t see where the road we’re following will lead us. All we see is the path before us, behind us, and the only thing we see around the bend is what we imagine, which isn’t usually what it’s going to be like.
But that trust-fall is a terrifying thing. I definitely have not mastered it. It’s throwing all the plans aside that you love but aren’t quite working and asking “well, what if I did this?” And at first, the idea might seem different, not really what you wanted, but in time, you’ll realize it’s the right choice, what you needed.
Chasing after dreams is tough. The road is bumpy and discouragement and doubt poise on the sides, ready to leap out. We think we know where we’re going, but we don’t know how to get there. But there is more than one way to get to the destination. We choose to go one way, and God can come in and say, “That way is harder and won’t make you as good of a person as going this way would.”
Then we have to swallow our pride, our attachment to the path we’re on, and switch to a new path. And even if we packed for icy blizzards on our path, now we’re in the desert, and we’re seemingly ill-prepared, but later we realize our path with icy blizzards would have led us to a dead end.
I don’t think we’ll ever understand why God makes us change paths so many times, especially if the change seems for worst. We just have to put our head down and keep walking, keeping saying “let it be done according to Your Will,” submit to His plans and not ours until we get to the destination.