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The Risk of Dreaming Small

At the age of thirteen, I had a wonderful plan for my life. The second I could legally get a job I knew the first place I wanted to apply. Yes, life was going to be amazing. It all hung on one thing though; I had to attain my dream job of working at Dairy Queen.

I kid you not.

I spent my summers walking to the local DQ with my friends after swimming at the community pool. As we waited with pruned, sunburnt skin for our chocolate dipped cones, the staff laughed and joked together. They were all young, cool, and forever looking like they were having fun. Summer episodes of Saved by the Bell with Zack working at the country club whipped through my mind. If only I could have my dream, it would be like that – hanging out with fun friends all summer long, laughing, inside jokes, the whole bit. Add in the fact that they’d pay me and I would be surrounded by ice-cream. Yes, dream job indeed.

I never ended up sporting one of the awesome red DQ shirts or aprons, and I still don’t know the secrets of the blizzard. But I did realize later that my goal was too small.

God didn’t want me stuck inside a building the size chicken coop. Instead he had me work in a library and gain a deep love for books. He took me to the wilds of Wisconsin (yes, Wisconsin has a few wild patches) were I served as a summer camp counselor, worked as a wrangler (that’s a horse person for the non-western speakers), and went on adventure trips (rafting on the Wolf River, rock climbing at Devil’s Lake, and long canoe journeys where we often got lost for hours). I worked at a zoo for a summer, did an internship at a reptile sanctuary, and directed the park district’s traveling day camp program.

God took me on adventure after adventure. Giving me experiences that most people my age never had. Not to mention the thousands of characters and funny stories I have stored up. If I would have pursued my small dream, I would have missed out on so much.

See, His plan was bigger. It always is, and I forget that more often than not.

You would think I would have learned my lesson from the DQ debacle. But then, you probably don’t know how thick my skull is.

I made the same mistake when it came to my dream of writing. I aimed low, as I often do, because then I have a higher chance to succeed. And if something better comes out than I expected then I figure I can be pleasantly surprised.

For years I’ve known I was called to write. I knew I would glorify God best by serving Him in this area, but I was afraid. I wrote a couple articles for a very small magazine. They published them and continued to publish more and I was happy and felt like that was good enough.

Then my wonderful friend Sadie gave me a nudge. She sent me a link to a mainstream publisher who was accepting novella entries for an anthology. In her email she said she believed I wrote well enough to get in. I hemmed and hawed. Then I sat down and wrote. Sent my little piece in, and waited. A week later I received an email from the publishers. They were backlogged by way too many entries and their decision would take longer than projected. Great. My chances just went way down. Then two weeks later the email arrived: we’d like to publish your manuscript. I read it five times.

After my first ever writer’s conference last year I knew I had to sign with an agent, but I didn’t think I’d be able to. I mean, Susan May Warren and Robin Jones Gunn can pick and choose agents, I can’t. But God knew better. And He paved the way for me to sign with one of the most respected agencies in the industry.

Now I spend my free time writing manuscripts, editing them, and pursuing the dream of publication. Sometimes I still feel silly, like a girl who’s been caught playing with Barbies when she’s a little too old for such things. Those moments I have to repeat to myself:

 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” –Proverbs 29:18

We are meant to dream big. To stretch farther than our reach will allow because then, and only then, do we know full well that everything is being done through God, not us. Small dreams are no good because they don’t leave a need for God in the midst of our dreams. And a dream without God, well, that’ll just end up being a nightmare.

Do you have dreams that you’ve been afraid to pursue? What stops you? Have you ever dreamed too small? What vision is God calling you to chase after for His glory today?


About Jess Keller

I'm an author, speaker and chocolate eater who's chasing hard after my dreams.

4 responses »

  1. Dream big – exactly! I love that you’re pursuing your dream, and that our friendship allows me to share in that with you.

  2. Love this post Jessica! Keep dreaming big! I’m sure God has amazing plans for you!


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