Daring to Dream
© 2003, Mary Elder-Criss
I had finally gotten brave enough to try again. Saying a quick prayer for strength, in case it was another politely worded rejection letter, almost scared to hope, I sat staring at the email from the editor of a major Christian Women’s publication. “Not my will, but yours Lord,” I quietly breathed, then took the plunge and clicked on the email to open it.
A flood of immense joy and hope overwhelmed me as I read the news that my submitted article had made it past the first stages, and would be brought before the editorial board for a final decision. The drawback? I was told that there would be a waiting period of 4-6 weeks before I would receive the answer. “Wonderful,” I thought to myself. Truly, it seems as if my whole life has been nothing but one long waiting period. So now, I will think of nothing else for the entire time frame. Every conscious thought I have will be shadowed by the subconscious wondering if I will finally accomplish what has seemed to be an impossible dream.”
When did a hobby become more than a passing interest and evolve into the dream? I began writing when I was still in high school, scribbling in a journal meant only for my eyes. Filled with meandering thoughts and juvenile victories, it was little more than a glorified diary. As time went on, and I matured, so did the entries, although most of them still focused on personal reflections, and desires of my heart. I once wrote that I never could write anything worth reading when I was happy, only in periods of pain or depression was my writing worthy of being read. It’s funny, after I accepted the Lord as my Savior, thirteen years ago, there was a time period of almost three years, during which I hardly wrote at all. I suppose the pain was not present anymore, so I felt I had nothing about which to write.
Around ten years ago, I felt the Lord urging me to develop the gifts that He had given me, and to begin a writing ministry for Him. Excited by this revelation, I began by writing skits and plays for my church, and then branched out into Christian Living articles. Most of it never went any further than that, as I did not have the confidence needed to submit anything for publication. Finally, about seven years ago, I decided it was time to take the plunge, and began submitting short stories, and several plays to Christian publications I had researched in the Sally Stuart guide. Using an old word processor handed down to me from my sister, I diligently typed and printed these out, according to the Writer’s Guidelines for each Publication I sent them to. One by one, slowly, they were returned to me, always with the politely worded rejection notice stating that it was not necessarily a reflection on my writing, but rather the submission did not fit their current needs. Filing them away in a folder, I also slowly filed away the idea of becoming a professional writer, and simply decided to continue writing for my church’s productions, and leave it at that.
Three years ago, I once again heard from God that He desired to use the gifts He had given me, for me to try my hand again at a writing ministry. I began to earnestly pray regarding this word, and knew that if it was to develop any further than a dream, I would need a decent computer that was capable of accessing the Internet. I began to search through the classifieds, to find a machine that I could afford, and discovered a used one at a computer shop for $500. The only drawback? I didn’t have $500 extra dollars. I began to pray for the Lord to provide this need, if it was indeed His will for me to once again begin the work necessary for the call I felt He had placed on my life. A week later, I was visiting my sister in Virginia. When I arrived, she gave me a card from a couple; members of her church. Inside the card was a note saying that the Lord had directed them to give me what was enclosed, five brand new, crisp $100 bills. When I returned to the computer shop which had the machine for sale, the owner dropped the price down, until the total, with tax included, came out to exactly $500.
Feeling that indeed the Lord had placed this call on my life, and given me this dream that He would ultimately fulfill, I once again began writing seriously, and also submitting. After a period filled with more politely worded rejection notices, it seemed as if perhaps upon receiving this slightly positive response to an article, that my dream was closer to being fulfilled. Knowing that I would drive myself to the brink of insanity, agonizing over whether the editors would respond favorably to the article or not, I determined to turn it over to the Lord in prayer, and function as well as possible during the interim waiting period.
Any of you reading this, that has ever dared to dream, or hope, will likely understand the wealth of possibilities that could be waiting right around the very next corner. The vision that you harbor is something that has been nurtured and sustained through so much. Through rejections, and setbacks, through other people’s disbelieving attitudes and circumstances that seem as if you are destined to fail, it is often difficult to keep hope alive, yet inside of you, it still springs eternal. If you are a freelance writer who has submitted articles before, you will understand that each day you sign in to check your email, or walk to your mailbox, holds a wealth of wonder and hope. The short jaunt from doorway to your mailbox can be a journey in itself, each day.
This day was no different. As my destination came to an end, and the mailbox loomed before me, seemingly holding all the secrets of the universe, I reached inside with a sense of breathless anticipation, and withdrew, of all things, a bulky envelope from the very publication that had responded favorably to my query. Time hung suspended for a moment. Dropping all the other mail immediately at my feet, I frantically tore open the thick envelope, knowing in my heart that it was this cumbersome because it contained a contract for my work. As I began to read the enclosed letter, I felt reality come crashing back down around me, as my senses slowly began to realize that what the envelope contained, was not in fact, a letter of contract, but my original submitted article, along with the politely worded letter of rejection. I would not, after all be rushing to the bank with a $300 check in reward of my labor, but would instead be adding another letter to my ever growing rejection collection.
Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy thing to swallow. To have come so close to reaching the seemingly impossible dream, only to be brought crashing back down to reality was hard. Rejection always is. It always hurts. No matter how kindly we try to let someone know that they or their services, attentions, ambitions, are not needed or even wanted at the present time, the fact of the matter is, rejection still stings.
How do you deal with the realization that your dream has yet to become a reality? Does one simply give up or do you reach down inside yourself and make the decision to preserve regardless? Can it be done in your strength alone, or is it something that can only be accomplished in His strength? In my experiences, there is no way that I have ever been able to carry on and keep reaching for the dream without the guidance of Christ, and the benefits of my personal relationship with Him. Every day is a gift from Him, and every day involves making a choice.
I was once told that I was a very persistent person. Although it wasn’t said in a complimentary manner at the time, I will still choose to perceive it as a strength. Perhaps the reason I am so persistent has little to do with myself, but instead, choosing to believe that the Promises my Lord has given me are true. His word cannot lie, so the choice of giving up is not really one that I could ever decide to embrace. Until the time of fulfillment of the seemingly impossible dream, I will continue to run the course that is set before me, I will fight the good fight, I will finish the race, and I will keep the faith. Diligently.
I will dare to dream the impossible dream, knowing that with Christ nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26)
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I was right there with you, pounding heart, sweaty hands and all, ripping open that envelope - I know the feeling. KEEP WRITING!
Mary, you brought tears to my eyes. Unless someone is an absolute rock without any feelings whatsoever, rejection always hurts. I happen to believe that persistence is a very good quality - at least Biblically it's always shown to be the case. So keep writing and submitting and dreaming! If this is of God, then He will make it happen (just don't be surprised if it happens a little differently to how you expect - He has a way of doing that). ;-) With love, Deb
Mary, It was almost as if I was right there with you as you opened the mail. You are a gifted writer. Be encouraged. God, in his perfect timing will honor his promise to you. There is purpose in our "waiting". Ask the Lord, "What are you trying to teach me?". Then, be still in his presence and wait for his answer.
I was so hoping that it was a contract for you! It was encourging to know that we all feel some of the same feelings! Keep submitting you have real talent!