On Staying

Two years ago, in the produce aisle of an Orlando Publix, I begged my mom to let me quit.

“I want to go home,” I sobbed. “I can’t do it, I don’t know anyone here, I’m not ready, it’s too hard.” Through tears, I gave every excuse I could think of; most of them valid.

I was over 500 miles away from the comfort of the familiar and the ease of routine. I felt like I had just jumped into an unfamiliar pool with my eyes closed and suddenly I forgot how to swim (which was quite literally the opposite of my job description). Who was I to leave my school, my family, and my friends, to work as a lifeguard at Walt Disney World? I was overwhelmed and unprepared and I wanted to quit before it even began.

“You can leave if you want,” my mom said, pulling me into her arms. “You can fly home with me tomorrow. But,” she looked me straight in the eye, “this is your dream.”

Isn’t it interesting that we get the most scared when we are the closest to achieving our dreams? As we teeter on the edge of all we’ve ever wanted, the reality of realizing our dreams becomes too much. And sure, working for Disney is a silly dream and one that’s not particularly unique to me, but the lesson I learned that night is universal: When we choose to stay instead of run, when we say yes even though we’re terrified, when we wipe our tears and dig in our heals, we inch closer to the person God has called us to be. I believe that our hopes and dreams are God-given, to be realized for His glory. When we make those leaps of faith, however big or small they may seem, we are learning to rely not on self, but on God.

I didn’t quit. And got homesick, and I messed up, and my social anxiety was through the roof, and I didn’t know what I was doing and it was hard. But I stayed and that made all the difference.Castle1

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