I had a conversation a while ago with a couple of friends about dreams. Big dreams. The kind of pie-in-the-sky goals that scare the pants off people. We don't often talk about those goals we have for fear of the sideways glances our friends might give us. Because often, when we say them out loud, our dreams sound ridiculous. We don't think we'll ever come close to making it and only look pathetic when it falls apart. We stop ourselves from succeeding even before we've begun. If you knew you wouldn't fail, would you go for it? Of course you would.
I prayed for my friends at the end of the conversation, and I was hit with a single overwhelming thought: we serve a God of ridiculously big dreams. Our God doesn't deal in mediocrity. He doesn't look at his creation and think well, I guess that’s okay. He doesn't do 'almost's or 'maybe's or 'kind of's. We serve a God who made the world in six days and then stood back and saw that it was good, full stop. And He has bigger dreams, higher hopes for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves. Just let that sink in for a moment. God's plan for you goes far beyond mere existence. He wants to invite you into a wild, abundant life that is good.
This website is one of those crazy dreams for me. For years, I've known that God has gifted me as a writer. I've always journaled, written poetry and stories. But until recently, I was extremely uncomfortable sharing my work with anyone, even when I was happy with how a piece of writing turned out. I'd occasionally let my mom or my best friend in on a piece I was particularly proud of, but my audience stopped there. It was simpler, easier to just hide in the background and do my writing thing where nobody was paying any attention. But the thing about God is that He doesn't let you off the hook. If there's something that you're truly supposed to be doing, He's going to keep prompting you until you do something about it.
For months now, I've heard God telling me to stop letting my fear hold me back, and to start writing more seriously. And to be honest, that thought terrifies me. What if nobody wants to read it? What if it turns out to be a terrible idea? What if it's a giant waste of time? What if it's trash and people don't get it? What if, what if what if… If you can imagine a writing-related fear, I've had it. Heck, I'm still having it. But that's when the humbling voice of God kicked in with a very different 'what if' statement and said, what if you stop making excuses and live out the calling I've placed on your life? Right. Cool. Thanks, God.
This was followed by several conversations in different places with different people about the ways in which we let lies discourage us, particularly the lie that says that 'everyone else has their crap together except me.' But the more you get to know people, the more you realize that nobody actually has their crap together, that we're all just winging it and hoping for the best. Some of us just do a better job of hiding our chaos than others. The thing we need to realize, though, is that in order for change to happen, we have to lay our fears aside and boldly chase down the things God is asking us to do. We have to stop comparing our mess to the messes of others, and just do it. Think how radically different this world would look if we all at once started to say yes to God's call instead of holding back and hoping that it will all just magically happen someday. Because that's a lie - obedience requires effort, and we all know it.
Last week, after weeks of prayer and planning, I finally pressed play on this part of God's plan for my life. I could tell you that I feel completely prepared and certain that this process is going to run smoothly, but that would be a lie. To say that I feel God calling me to a life of writing still sounds ridiculous because I am incredibly underqualified to speak on just about every topic. I've never been to bible college; I have no formal theology training. I have no idea what I'm doing here, and maybe no one will even read this. But I'm doing it anyway. I'm jumping out in faith, knowing that if God has truly called me to write, He'll take care of the details.
This website is called Joyfully, Alice (though I'm sure you noticed that). God's been impressing the word 'joy' on my heart in these last few months. The past several years have been incredibly hard and incredibly beautiful, all at once. I have experienced loss, witnessed miracles, built friendships, and ended up in places I never would have expected. But the one thing that has been consistent is God's faithfulness in the midst of it all. His joy is not limited to happy circumstances, but is a constant assurance given to His beloved children. It doesn't look like the world's definition of joy - it is so much better. He is teaching me to consider it all joy, and I hope I can share some of that with you.
Someone once told me that "God doesn't call the qualified - he qualifies the called." That statement shook me, and I think it's so important to remember that God doesn't choose us because we're all that. He chooses us because He has a purpose for us, and He gives us the grace and strength we need to get it done. And I'm holding onto that.
So friends, if I can encourage you with one thing today, let it be this: You are loved by the God of ridiculously big dreams, and He can do ridiculously big things in your life. Let me rephrase that - He WANTS to do ridiculously big things in your life. He wants to knock your socks off with His goodness.
But you have to start by saying it out loud.
Do you have a big dream you're working up the courage to chase after? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!