I was searching for an old journal in our keepsake cedar chest when I came across some antiquated (50 yr. old) autograph books from my childhood. Reading the (sometimes silly)entries, like:
‘Roses are red, Violets are green, my face is a holler, but yours is a scream’ and
‘When you get married and have 25, don’t call it a family, call it a tribe,’ brought a smile to my face. Others were more serious and were written by my parents and other relatives, and teachers:
‘Dare to dream,’ ‘Dream big!’ ‘Expand your horizons,’ ‘Go for the gusto!’ ‘Stretch your imagination,’ ‘Reach for the stars!’ ‘Bloom where you’re planted,’ ‘Go the distance,’ ‘Climb that mountain!’ ‘Fight the fight!,’ encouraging me to action and growth.
This made me reminisce about the choices I had made through the past half century that molded me into who I had become. Had I given up on my dreams? Did I stop expanding (other than around the waist)? Had I stopped pursuing, fulfilling, or grasping for something just out of my reach? If so, what had stopped me? Fear, of course—of rejection, of embarrassment, of failure, of the unknown, of anything outside of my “comfort zone.”
“If I’m not advancing, am I stagnating?” I wonder, aloud.
Some of us are dare-devils, while others of us are more passive, I reflect, but we can still learn from each other. I flipped through some more pages.
‘May God guide you into the fullness of His purpose for your life’—Pastor Wingar.
‘I’ll always remember what a very good little writer you were in third grade’—Mrs. Jansen, teacher.
‘Start low, Climb high, Best of luck in Junior High!’—Georgette, fellow classmate.
Nostalgia tickled me in its grip as I backtracked into days of long ago, and I wondered if I had aspired or grown into the masterpiece God intended me to be. Too often I had escaped new possibilities for the comfortable. Sure, I had always tried to “bloom where you’re planted,” and that is also important.
‘Your life is God’s gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God,’ I read from another script, and, ‘the only way to honor a talent (gift from God) is to use it.’
I thought of that time years ago when I was advised by a church choir director to sing a solo; another time when a Sunday School student told me I was a born teacher. So I sang and I taught because I could do those things well and because I didn’t want to ignore a gift God had given to me.
I fast-forwarded to the present to the “Focused Living” Retreat of last week, a time used to refocus and discover afresh God’s unique call on my life. I then admitted to myself that my real passion was writing, but I was afraid to pursue it. Until my pastor challenged me.
“God is only limited by your unbelief,” he said.
All of my life, people had complimented me on my letters, my poems, my short stories, themes, or essays. But I was fearful—of rejection, of criticism, of not being good enough. Thoughtfully, I put away the little autograph albums and closed the cedar chest, forgetting why I had opened it in the first place.
Prayerfully, I opened my Bible to Jesus’ parable about the King’s servants and their talents (Luke 19:11-26*). At the end of my devotional commentary was this quote by D. M. White:
“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”
“Behold the turtle; he makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”—James Bryant Conant.
How many unknown and unrealized possibilities had I ignored for lack of courage to expand my venturing unto unfamiliar roads? My aged grandmother has been known to say that ‘someday’ arrives too little too late.
“Okay, Lord. I get it,” taking out my steno tablet and beginning to write.
I now have submitted articles to small magazine publications, to our church’s monthly newsletter, and have become a member of “FaithWriters,” online site, joining many other aspiring authors by entering articles into their weekly “Writing Challenge.”
This is my advice to other seniors:
“Aspire before you expire!”
*Luke 19:11-26 New International Version (NIV)
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
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