It was bittersweet. Most were ready to pack it in and go home to spouses, children, significant others, or just their own beds, while others were already making plans to return.
Conversations about what’s next have been stirring as we approach the end of our trip. Our questions to speakers have gotten more specific and we’re hanging back after class to chat not about the ins and outs of writing TV, but how to move to L.A.; what churches to try; what neighborhoods to avoid; what it’s like having kids here; all to start building to the ultimate question: Can I do this?
Our final night wrapped up with a farewell dinner that included Sean, Dean, and Cheryl answering “What’s next?” questions. We talked about balancing family and work; budgeting a cross-country move; securing representation; and breaking in through contests, writer’s programs and internships.
The night also included a four-minute individual evaluation for each student by the aforementioned executive producers and Professor Mattison.
Now, I’m not one to get nervous, but putting yourself out there for critique makes anyone’s stomach tighten a little.
I went first.
They asked what I wanted to know from them, so I (and the others) asked things like: Do you think I can hack it? How did you feel I performed in the room? What are the biggest weaknesses you see in my writing? Not easy questions to ask when the answers are coming from industry professionals! Though our mentors were gracious, they were also honest—sugarcoating doesn’t help anyone in this business.
Having survived evaluations, Sean wrapped up the session with a lesson on dreaming God’s dreams. Let’s face it; we’re a room full of dreamers who imagine leading lives of great significance. But what “great significance” means to us and what it means to God can be totally different.
Sean pointed out that Joseph, on his journey to seek out the 11 brothers who would eventually sell him into slavery and set him on a journey to leading Egypt through famine, stopped and asked a man for directions in a field. It’s a moment that seems void of meaning in the context of the story.
“Whenever you see bad storytelling in the Bible, pay attention,” Sean said. “God didn’t put anything in there on accident.”
He explained that the man who gave him directions fulfilled a great destiny, though in his eyes it may have seemed insignificant. Painting a tale that didn’t make it into Genesis, Sean told the story of a farmer who had a dream in which God told him he would save the world the next day. The man woke and told his wife excitedly what God had said, and then went off to perform his daily duties.
When he returned home, his wife asked if he’d saved the world. The man said no, he hadn’t. God had only asked him to cross the field and do his job. That’s it. “Nothing?” the wife pressed. “Well, there was this kid that asked for directions,” he replied.
If the man hadn’t crossed the field, he wouldn’t have met Joseph to give him directions. Joseph may have gotten lost or returned home and come out the next day. If Joseph hadn’t found the brothers when he did, the Ishmaelites wouldn’t have been riding by for his brothers to sell him. If they hadn’t sold him, they would have killed him and the story would have ended there. The ripples through history would have been monumental. But the man in the field didn’t know that. He just did what he was told.
The weight of the story weighs heavy on our minds as we leave L.A. and aim to align our dreams with God’s. The truth is, the dream we imagine may or may not be the dream God has designed for us to fulfill. Now is the time for us to approach God with an open hand on our talents and aspirations and simply say, “Have Your way.”
We closed the night in prayer and tears (well, I won’t speak for everyone: I was crying) and bid farewell to the proverbial grindstones that have helped shape us into better writers and future professionals. It’s an experience none of us will ever forget no matter where our dreams and God’s may lead us.RegentLA