Naysayers and Detours

Developing seamstress skills at a school for girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Young woman develops seamstress skills at a school for girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

A friend of mine recently shared a message in which a group of women were challenged to give birth to the dream inside of them, whether that be in the form of a book, a business or a ministry. For me, it’s all three. And they’re all interconnected with my life passion.

Yet I recognize that in writing a book, I will likely face a lot of criticism and even rejection. It’s likely that those whom I desire to help will be among my strongest critiques, because people involved in nonprofit work and international development feel wicked enjoyment from tearing apart what each other are doing. Worse, many in academia devote entire thesis projects to criticizing the work that other people are doing, while never budging from the comfort of their classroom to attempt to help anyone themselves (OK, OK, I recognize that academia provides helpful research and needed scrutiny of the practices). In addition to the content being criticized, I know my writing style will be scrutinized. I could be rejected by countless publishers. The book may not sell. It could be a total flop.

Reading about the topic of detours in John C. Maxwell’s book The Success Journey recently caused me to contemplate potential setbacks like naysayers.At the end of the chapter on detours, Maxwell provided a space for reflection where I acknowledged that while I can form a support network and get constructive feedback from sources I respect, what I cannot control is how others’ respond. And, as all entrepreneurs know, “Making mistakes is like breathing; it’s something you’ll keep doing as long as you’re alive. So learn to live with it and move on.” (p.131) Or, as Henry Ford put it, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

Two lines that stuck out to me the most, though were Maxwell’s “Fear robs us of our potential and prevents us from moving forward toward our purpose in life” (p. 121) and President John F. Kennedy:

“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

Girls dancing at slum school in Bangladesh.

Girls dancing at slum school in Bangladesh.

And when the going gets tough, there’s gotta be that “fire in the belly” sort of motivation that’ll propel a person to plug on, in spite of criticism, in spite of setbacks and regardless of the temptation to take the easy street in life. At a writing retreat recently, I penned this poem during a writing prompt exercise that captures the sparks that motivate me to write, to pursue this dream, to go on this journey:

“Shake the dust,” the poet tells us

What things do I need to shake? 

To focus, to write

tech gadgets

beep. buzz. ring. 

alarm clocks

time

deadlines

to-do lists

“When will you come back?”

“We miss you”

“Wish you were here”

Souls that intersect for a season, like a 

rambling wild vine

then are plucked–rooted from the ground–and carried

by the wind to some distant place

the sun rises and sets

and my eyelids grow heavy, doors to my soul

closing off, disconnecting

relax

dream!

It’s time to be set free. Freedom! That’s why I write. Never forget that freedom.

What I enjoy, I did not earn

When will girls all over the world

shake it out

dance

joyfully

live 

be happy

free!

It is for freedom I write

the joy of the Lord is my Strength.