When I was nineteen, I worked as a visual merchandiser at JC Penney in the Blue Ridge Mall. (A visual merchandiser creates and develops displays to attract and motivate customers to buy something.) In the evenings, I attended interior design school and was working towards my dream career. One evening after class, an instructor proposed an incredible opportunity for me to be part of a team tasked to set the stores in the soon-to-open 'Great Mall of the Great Plains' in Olathe, Kansas.
I couldn’t believe she would take a chance on some fresh-out-of-high-school amateur who'd never done anything like that. This mall was supposed to be the Midwest’s equivalent of the Mall of America and she asked some newbie, who’s window displays she’d never seen, to help make it awesome. How could she take such a risk?
I thanked her for the opportunity and told her I’d let her know if I could (would) help. What began as excitement for a terrific opportunity turned into complete fear and insecurity in the forty-five minutes it took me to get home. By the time I arrived at my house, I’d completely talked myself out of bear-hugging my dream, believing in myself, and taking a chance to see what great things might happen. I later declined the opportunity.
I allowed the fear of failing, looking stupid, doing something wrong, or letting my instructor, myself, and every Midwest shopper down keep me from being awesome at my dream. Who knows what could have come from seizing that opportunity? To this day, I find myself wishing I could change my decision and say “YES!” before fear and doubt had a chance to set in.
My instructor saw potential in me and she believed I could do it. She believed in me more than I believed in myself. I didn’t pray to ask how God would have me respond and I didn’t ask Him to help me shut down Satan’s attacks of inferiority and insecurity. The Bible clearly tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I've come to realize there’s really no failing in life; just a lot of experiments and a lot of learning. I now say “Look what I learned. I thought it would go one way and it went the opposite! What can I take away from this that will help me in the future?” And I talk with my Heavenly Father, asking for His guidance in every decision I face.
Had I taken the "risk" and stepped out in faith, I might now be living my dream of being a successful interior designer in the Kansas City area. I might be a happy, fulfilled visual merchandiser somewhere. I probably wouldn't have spent the last 15 years of my life in mutual fund software development, something you couldn't have convinced me in high school I'd end up doing. But, it's led me to this day! It's let me to my amazing husband, my incredible bonus son, and the life I now lead! It's led me to pursue new dreams that could inspire, motivate, and help others! Those decisions have shaped my future and, although I wonder what might have been, I don't regret where I've been.
From today forward, I’m not going to let being new to something stop me from trying. When asked (by a person or Satan’s voice whispering in my ear) “Have you ever done that before”? I will say “No, but I’m about to.” and I’ll ask God to help me. Then I’ll try it… with no regrets! If it works well, YAY! If not, I’ll move on to something else!
Believe in yourself. Ask God to direct your path. Trust His plan for you. Learn from your experiments. And bring your dreams to life!