Sunday, July 8, 2012

When Opportunity Doesn't Knock


My eight-year-old son participated in a week long soccer camp two weeks ago. I bounced between his younger sister's camp and his camp, and if there was one thing I observed that helped my son's game more than anything, it would had to have been those words that came hollering out of his coaches mouth, "Don't wait for the ball to come to you! It never will! Go after it!"

Those words stuck with me, too. How many times in life do we have big ideas and ambitions, and then we wait for the opportunities to come to us. They never will.

I see this in myself with writing, as well as in motherhood. I have ideas, plans, and ambitions, yet they are scary ventures. What if I do something wrong? What if I fall short? What if the end result is a failure?

I can have all of these great intentions, yet if I don't move forward with discipline and focus fueled by passion, these endeavors will ineviditablly fall a part before I ever see fruit come of my labor.

It Starts with Passion

What are you doing that is fueled by passion? What is it that God created you to do that makes you feel alive in the way that you are making a difference?

Some kids just don't like soccer. They don't have a passion for playing the game. Therefore, even if they go through all the motions and have the skill, there really is no energy or momentum behind their action. That is the same with us in our endeavors. We have to start with a passion. 

In his book, You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins reveals that his success in writing happened when he went back to the basics and started writing for the love of it. Before that, he states, he was only chasing results:
I watched other writers succeed in ways I hadn't, and I envied them. Eventually, I grew to resent them. Why? Becuase I wasn't doing what I wanted. I was writing, but I wasn't enjoying the process. I was only chasing results. So what did I do? I went back to the basics: writing for the love of it...As a result, something amazing happened: I started to have fun. And the quality of my work dramatically increased. I finally felt free to do what I loved. ~ Jeff Goins, You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

Get in the game

Are you just cheering others on from the sidelines, in what you are passionate about, or are you getting in the game yourself?

Some kids want to win, yet are happy sitting on the sidelines, hoping their teammates will pull through for them. They are okay with someone else doing the work for them. Yet, they'll never learn what it takes to be a winner. And neither will we cheering everyone else on from the sidelines. We have to get in the game.

Go after the ball {opportunity}

Are you waiting for opportunity to come to you or are you going after opportunity?

Some kids get in the game and then dance around the ball, too scared to actually make contact with it. Again they hope someone else will pull the weight and then will take credit for the win, but those wins will only be by chance for that kid. Same with us. We may get in the game and start dancing around a little, hoping opportunity will come. We play it cool and act like it's no big deal. Yet inside we're dying for our passions to meet opportunity, and they never will if all we do is dance around it. We have to make contact with opportunity.

But that's not enough. That is where the work begins. It will take hard, dedicated work because that's the point we'll have opponents coming at us from all sides – rejection, doubt, critics. And what will we do with that? Let them take the ball from us or will we claim it, even if we fail?

I get it. It's scary. I'm one of those who would rather dance around the ball than actually go for the ball. I think about it too much. And I tell myself I'll kick that ball the next time it comes to me.

But we have to stop thinking about it and do something. Not because we should act thoughtlessly, but because we've practiced enough that we don't have to think about it anymore.
If you do anything long enough, it becomes habitual. This is the goal for any passions in life: to wake up and do it without thinking. This can happen for writing, running, and anything else you want to do in life. It won't be easy, but it can become effortless. ~ Jeff Goins, You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One)
This may look differently for you than me. For me, as a mother of four, it may require waking up before my children and writing for 30 minutes everyday. I do wake up before my children, but I don't always write. I wait for that surge – that idea that will inspire me to write. Sometimes that works, but it can come at a cost. Because it's unpredictable. Because artists need more than creativity and inspiration to get better, to be heard, and to make a difference. We need discipline. 

How do I know this? What makes me qualified to share these tid-bits? Because I'm right there in this process with you. And I hope that the insights I gain along the way will help and encourage you, as well.

And because I believe it's vital that we realize there will be opportunities, but they won't come knocking. You can either go after an opportunity, or stand around thinking about the how's, the when's, and the if's. But, you'll miss it. Because they come and go that quickly.

Just like with the sport of soccer, the more disciplined a ball player you are, the better you'll become, and as a result, the more that ball will be passed directly your way. But that's because you'll have earned it. Your coach and team mates will know what you're capable of on that field because you've proved it and they trust your ability.

So get in there and be ready to go after opportunity when you see it! Do it – not because the crowd is screaming, expecting it from you. And don't not do it because the crowd is silent.

Do it because you love it! Because you have to. Because it's what you were created to do.

This is your moment.


  1. This is so true. I so needed this encouragement today. Thanks.

  2. Oh, this pep talk is just what I needed. Love the way you reminded me today that I need to write out of my passion. I think Jeff's book title is perfect. If God has called us to write, we need to see ourselves as writers- whether or not we've got publishing credits to our name. I'm glad you choose to write, friend. Keep living out your passion! (And love those soccer pics- we've got 3 soccer players around here, too!)

  3. I think this involves a spiritual rhythm too, something I've learned in coaching. When we are young in our faith, God gives us signs along the way that He is with us in answer to our prayers. Guidance ahead of time for the journey. As we mature in faith, it shifts and we have to trust him through our actions first, without needing the signs. I'm practicing this in the art of writing, trusting when I don't always have clarity about the path ahead of time. It's been fun to walk through the shift of trust. Love Jeff's book too, such nuggets of gold in those few pages.

  4. Thanks Theresa...great post:) Love Jeff's book too:) I started taking opportunities this year. I sent in a fiction story to CFOM(Christian Fiction Online Magazine) and I was surprised when they actually published it. So even though the fear of failure haunts me, I'm still trying to "go for it." Great post Theresa!

  5. This has me thinking that I need to evaluate whether I'm still writing because I "love" it. I'm not sure that's the case all the time. I definitely get the idea that I can't wait for opportunities to come to me, but facing my fears is the biggest problem for me. Thanks for sharing this encouragement, Theresa!

  6. Well done on refocusing us to what is most important. I say, who cares about being 'published.' Just write. If God has called you to sing, to write, to sculpt, to mother, to caregive, to preach -- the most important thing is that you just do it. Don't wait for validation or results.

  7. I have this ebook, too, by Jeff Goins. I haven't gotten too far into it (namely because my husband has borrowed it) but I am really excited about the principles of which he talks. Love your analogies .

    By the way, I struggle, too, with disciple vs. creative surge. I do okay, but I sure do love it when creative surge and discipline meet!

  8. I'm your SDGS neighbour. What a great "kick in the pants". I have never thought about it. As I read your blog I realized that I'm one of those waiting for opportunity. I need to get out and get into the "game"

  9. I really like how you compare writing to your son's soccer game. All of the principles you outline are true.

    One thing I've noticed about writers is we like to talk about writing, and although I can list tons of people who say they write, many don't really want to play the game. Putting in hours and hours of practice isn't fun and losing isn't fun, but you know, I still see the game as fun.

    Great piece, Theresa.

  10. this is brilliant, theresa. truly. i love that quote by goins. it's something i've learneda long the way, too. when i stop comparing myself with others, and start just enjoying myself, everything seems brighter. love you.

  11. So true! It's so important to hold on to that passion and live life to the fullest for the Lord. Thanks for this sweet reminder.

  12. Great post, Theresa. I also downloaded Jeff Goins book recently.

  13. Wow! What a great pep talk to get me going this morning! Thank you for this. I struggle with rejection and it does hold me back. I need to trust God's leading and go after that ball more often.

  14. This was really great! So glad you shared the link with me. I love the tip the coach gave. So true! Part of what held me back in making that oh-so-scary declaration is that I actually never desired to be a writer. I didn't even have it in my mind when I started blogging 10 months ago. I just knew I wanted to "share". God kept a secret from me :) But He is revealing the path He has for me little by little. Because I desire Him more than anything, and He desires obedience -- here I am, saying I am a Writer :)

  15. As always, Theresa, you're plum full of wisdom and encouragement. Loved this post!


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