I’m almost positive that when we were six, our parents, our teachers, and basically every other adult that was around us told us that we could be whatever we want to be. They let us use our imaginations and believe that someday we could be astronauts, the President of the United States of America, and Britney Spears. We would have days at school where we got to dress up like what we wanted to be when we grew up (as long as it was in dress code, of course.), and we would be so excited to grow up.
I remember being seven and being the first person in the second grade at my elementary school who had read a chapter book, which is amazing achievement, considering I was forced to take ESL up until that year, because my native language is Vietnamese. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to write. I wanted to be among the likes of Ann M. Martin, Barbara Park, and whoever wrote those Mary-Kate and Ashley books, and let others escape into a world of not their own, like how these books let me escape mine.
As I grew a bit older, I made a goal that I wanted to be a New York Times Bestselling Author, and once I achieved that, then my life was complete.
By the time I was sixteen, I had written three complete novellas and hundreds of short stories. They weren’t the best, but I was proud of myself. I achieved something. For someone who didn’t see much coming out of her life, these achievements meant the world to me, and they’re still something I hold dearly to this day. I’m proud of sixteen year old Jennifer.
But soon after that, I reached a writer’s block, a block that still stumps me to this day. Seventeen year old Jennifer deleted her stories and stopped looking back at them, knowing that nothing would ever come from it.
You see, when you get older, all of the people who told you that you can be anything you want to be are the same people who tell you that the world is hard. They tell you that you need to find something stable, something substantial, something that you can make a living off of, and you should throw the illogical dreams that you may have in the trash. So at 17-18, I no longer was excited to grow up, because all I saw were my friends and acquaintances starting to change their “dreams” for what was logical — majoring in science, medical, or engineering degrees because those are the jobs they’ll find when they leave uni, picking jobs that they hated because it was better than to not make any money at all, and even settling down with people they didn’t like because they were afraid they were never, ever going to fall in love.
Twenty-four year old Jenn is now saying, “Screw all of this.”
I was talking to my friend, Leon, the other week, and he was sharing to me about how he would love to design cars someday. He was telling me about how he needs to take specific courses in uni to reach this goal and about how hard they are to get into, and how if he doesn’t get into the school in Germany, then he would either have to go to London or California, which is even harder and also super expensive, especially since it’s out of the country.
Logically speaking, that all makes sense. Universities are competitive and expensive, and to do something as obscure as designing cars is hard to achieve. I gave up on my writing dream at age seventeen, because I understood that not that many people ever become New York Times Bestselling Authors. I’ve read too many horror stories of people being turned down again and again from publishing companies and “wasting” their life for something that was never going to happen.
But I hate being pessimistic, especially when I’m speaking to other people, so before I responded to Leon about how it could be impossible, I sat there for a bit and I prayed.
And I prayed some more…
And I prayed some more…
And then God responded to me, “Jenn, what are you doing? I gave you dreams for a reason.”
On Pais, we have a thing called the Kingdom Principles, and one of my favourite ones is “Use It or Lose It.”
When they are explaining this to us, they start off with sharing the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this Parable, the master gave three of his servants variable number of talents, each according to their ability. The first servant, he gave ten. The second, he gave five, and the last, he gave one. They each went away and invested in their talents, except for the last one who ended up hiding the money in the ground. When the master came back, he applauded the first two servants for investing in their talents and eventually doubling their profits, but when he realised the last servant didn’t do anything with it, he became furious and took everything away.
When we invest into what our master (aka God) has given us, it’ll double and be so worthwhile, but the sad part is, we think we do this! But honestly, the majority of the time, we are the last servant who doesn’t do anything with the gifts that God has given us, but we just do what we think we’re supposed to do. And then what happens? Well, in my life, I stopped writing and have regretted that craving in my life for the past seven years.
You see, if God is the God He says He is, if He created us from nothing as people who are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” then He created our brains. I would say, if He created our brains, then He definitely created our hearts. Not only does He give us wisdom, intelligence, and enough common sense to make decisions on what we should do, but He gives us passions and purpose and motivation to fulfill all of these things. Because even if they seem impossible, when we achieve our dreams, we get to say that we did this all for the wondrous glory of our God.
When I become a Bestselling Author, then it is all because of God. He did this, and He got to use my gifts, my strengths, my passion to achieve this. All I have to do is to say yes, and do it. If Leon ends up designing and creating cars in the future, then that is all because of God. All he has to do is say yes, and do it. We are here alive, breathing, and living to exalt the glory of God to everybody that we see and meet, so that way one day, they too will say, “I believe in a God that is so much greater than everything that has ever existed. THAT is who I have put my faith in.”
Now I can safely say that I’m back on the track of writing again, and I hope you all can say the same with your goal(s). I hope this encourages anybody who reads this in any way, and I am so excited to live in a world where we can truly believe that we can be anything we want to be “when we grow up.”
Now… What do you want to be?
Ps. Sometimes dreams change, and that’s okay. I used to think it was cool to play soccer (football?) when I was a kid and how awesome it would be if your job was just to run around a field, kicking a ball all day. Then I played YMCA soccer for a season when I was 10, and my team won zero games the whole season, and we probably scored a total of two goals in all of those games. (I didn’t score any of those goals.) That’s when I realised I hate running, and that being athletic is not my forte. So that dream quickly ended. Go with where God is truly guiding you and not with just what’s cool. Yeah.