[Editor's Note: This excerpt is taken from For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker, 2015, used with permission from Thomas Nelson Publishing.]
Do you know that I always, my entire life, loved to write but never dared imagine it could be a job? I taught elementary school, one of the noblest professions, but I wasn’t great and felt trapped. I later stayed home with the babies I had every other summer, and when the youngest turned two, I told Brandon, “According to our schedule, I’m due for another newborn this summer, so I’m going to birth a different kind.” And I wrote my first book. Obviously writing a book no one asked for with three kids under five is an Insane Person Choice, but sometimes you throw out logic and run your race.
Do you know what else? I thought humor was one of my throwaway qualities forever. Surely that had no place in Jesus Work. Frankly, I considered it a liability—as if I should overcome it and get serious, for the love. (What kind of a Bible teacher loves Will Ferrell?) I figured I should manage the important stuff and ratchet down the humor, because I am a grown woman who works for Jesus. But guess what? God created an entire package. It all counts. There are no throwaway qualities.In fact, those qualities might point you in just the right direction. Nothing is wasted: not a characteristic, preference, experience, tragedy, quirk, nothing. It is all you and it is all purposed and it can all be used for great and glorious good.
Maybe your best thing won’t draw a paycheck, but it is how you shine and glow and come to life and bless the world. May I legitimize your gifts? Just because you don’t get a pay stub doesn’t mean you shrink back or play small or give it all up. Do your thing. Play your note. We are all watching and learning, moved. You are making the world kinder, more beautiful, wiser, funnier, richer, better. Give your gifts the same attention you would if it paid. (Or paid well! Some do our best, most meaningful work for peanuts. Don’t be shamed out of your race for a bigger paycheck. I didn’t make a living as a writer for years. My neighbor, upon hearing I was a Christian author, once said: “Oh! Is there a market for that?” Me: “I have no idea.”)
Run your race.
Maybe you need to invest in your gifts. Take a class. Go to a conference. Sign up for a seminar. Start that small business. Put that website up. Build in some space. Say yes to that thing. Work with a mentor. Stop minimizing what you are good at and throw yourself into it with no apologies. Do you know who will do this for you? No one. You are it. Don’t bury that talent, because the only thing fear yields is one dormant gift in a shallow grave.
How many trot out that tired cliché—“I’m waiting for God to open a door”—and He is all, “I love you, but get going, Pumpkin,” because usually chasing the dream in your heart looks surprisingly like work. Don’t just stand there, bust a move. (God often sounds like Young MC.) You are good at something for a reason. God designed you this way, on purpose. It isn’t fake or a fluke or small. These are the mind and heart and hands and voice you’ve been given, so use them.
Jen Hatmaker is the author of several books including her most recent bestselling title For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World Full of Impossible Standards and the star of HGTV’s “My Big Family Renovation,” and the recent pilot “Your Big Family Renovation.” She is a prolific and nationally-acclaimed blogger, speaker, and pastor’s wife to husband, Brandon, and mom to five children. She lives in Austin, TX. For more information, please visit: http://choicepublicity.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/OVERVIEW.JenHatmaker.FTL_.FINAL_1.pdf