If my life were a movie, this would be the point where, having finally yielded to the call of my dream, the perfect job materializes, the perfect man saunters onto the scene, and my story line moves inexorably towards a happy ending and sweet resolution. The universe, waiting with bated breath for just this moment, now breathes a sigh of relief, releasing all the blessings and goodwill and miracles it has stored up for me.
And I revel in the joy of finally getting it right, of finally arriving at my happily ever after.
Regretfully, my life is not a movie.
In fact, I have the bruises and cuts and myriad wounds—from slamming headfirst into the hard wall of reality—to prove it.
You might say that, having chosen to let go of the rails and glide onto the ice, reality—disguised as gravity—rewarded my brave efforts with a broken ankle and skinned knees.
I let go of the rails to pursue my dream of an authentic life, defined by passion and purpose. But in the stark face of reality (i.e., face-planted on the ice), I question the validity of my dream, of my decision to embark on a big-time career change as a first step.
In the stark face of reality, of closed doors and lost opportunities, and with movie-style miracles in short supply, I’m tempted to call it a day, to shrug and say, “Oh well. At least I tried.” My old fears and self-defeating voices clamor in panic, urging me to walk away, insisting that my dream is just not worth the pain and effort and discomfort. Better to forget about dreams—they’re just nonsense, anyway. The stuff of fairy tales and movies.
Not too long ago, I would have accepted those warnings as truth. I would have fought and railed against them, but in the end I would have embraced them as sensible, practical, immutable truth.
Enter my inner warrior, all grown up now, and unwilling to simply lie down without a fight. She has a few choice words for me:
Yes, you did a face-plant on the ice. Yes, you slammed hard into the wall of reality. Yes, you’re sore and bruised and wounded on multiple levels. So, what now? You’re just going to roll over and give up, slink away with your tail between your legs? Here’s your chance to test your mettle, to see what you’re really made of: Who are you in the face of disappointment and rejection? What do you do when adversity slaps you in the face? You like to think of yourself as resilient—will your fortitude, your vision, withstand this test? You like to think of yourself as creative—can you create a new reality out of the current one? Can you rise to the occasion and conquer Goliath? When everyone else tells you no, will your YES be loud enough, forceful enough, to keep you going?
“The fate of all faith is that it will eventually be tested,” Gregg Levoy observed in his book, Callings.
And how I respond matters. Life is full of challenges and obstacles, disappointment and rejection, fear and anxiety. I can’t escape this reality, whether I’m living out my dream or not.
So if I’m going to fight, it might as well be in service to my dream, my vision for my life.