Monday, November 24, 2014

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

My hands shook as I fought the urge to turn and run away. What was I thinking? What had I done? I was too scared to move ahead, but the decision was made and there was no tuning back. Fearfully, reluctantly, I scoured the shelves until I found the books I needed for my college anatomy/physiology and sociology classes.

Ten years before, I made the decision to walk away from college and a full scholarship. When I graduated from high school, I was young and idealistic and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew that I had to go to college. It was what everyone expected, even though I was floundering through with no clear direction. A four year degree was what I was supposed to do. Direction came as my sophomore year ended, when I got engaged and dropped out of college, to the protests of my family. I promised myself that when I figured out what I really wanted to do in life, I would go back.

Ten years passed, along with seven moves, two kids, and lots of ups and downs. I worked a part-time job that I loved, but knew there was no room to advance. I wasn't satisfied. At thirty years old, I decided it was finally time to go back to school. Absolute terror gripped my heart. I had officially lost my mind. How on earth would I manage my life as a pastor's wife, mom of two little boys, children's minister, and manager of a small fitness center - with a load of college classes thrown in?

Most of my friends supported me. A few told me I was crazy. A small handful were even hurtful. But this decision wasn't made easily, and it wouldn't be changed easily. In January 2010, I dove back into college. The crazy thing was, I did really well. In 2011, I was accepted into the dental hygiene program at a local college, and in 2013, I walked across the stage to receive my diploma as my family cheered me on.

While I was in college, people often told me, "I don't know how you do it." To be perfectly honest, I don't know how I did it either. I'm nothing special. I don't have superhuman balancing abilities.  Most days, I feel completely out of balance. If I'm doing well at one thing, I'm letting something else fall apart. So how did I manage?

I didn't. God did.

I think God gives us all crazy dreams sometimes. And I don't believe He gives them if He doesn't intend for us to follow them. We may not know how we're going to manage. That's okay, because He does. Other people may criticize our dreams, but that's okay, because they're our dreams, not theirs. If our dreams seem too big for us, it's all the more opportunity for God to show His power through us.

Since that crazy decision five years ago, God has continued taking me outside of my comfort zone. It's never been easy, but it's always been worth it. In the past two years, I've graduated from college, changed careers, run my first 5K, published two short stories, finished my first novel, and entered several writing contests. The next crazy step? Editing my novel and submitting it to agents and publishers. Am I scared? No - I'm terrified.

But I know now, just like I knew when I started college, that God is the One leading me down this crazy dreamer's path, and if He called me to do it, He will give me what I need to get through it.