In third grade, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.
That Christmas, I asked my parents for a copy of Law for Dummies and a dictionary of “lawyer words,” both of which are now collecting dust on my bookshelf if they haven’t already been sold at a garage sale or donated. Nearly 20 years later, I can’t even remember what part of my third-grade self thought being a lawyer was the right fit for me — probably the part that believed there were only a handful of real “grown-up” jobs. Suffice it to say, God had other plans.
“Your daughter is going to be a writer one day.” I still remember the first time I overheard my sixth-grade teacher say this to my parents. Mostly, I remember the confidence in her voice. It was a confidence that acknowledged something I hadn’t even seen in myself yet. Something I gradually came to know as my God-given passion for writing.
When it came time to choose a college major years later, I initially didn’t think of writing as an option. But by the end of my freshman year at Biola, I was convinced of three things: God had given me a passion for writing. I would find a way to use my skill in writing to serve him in my career. He would be walking with me in the details. Knowing these three things, I changed my major for the fourth and final time to English with a writing concentration and a minor in sociology.
Frederick Buechner sums it up pretty well: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” After identifying that deep gladness, the question became How can I use my deep gladness for writing to meet a need in this world? That’s when I started to dream about writing for nonprofits.
After experiencing such overwhelming peace upon finally deciding to pursue a writing career, you can imagine my disappointment when I graduated from college with no job prospects and a still unclear idea of what this career path would look like. Needing to start working as soon as possible, I took a job from the first company that offered me one. It was part-time and outside of my field, but I knew I had to start somewhere.
I ended up spending two years at that first job, questioning every life decision that brought me there and seriously doubting God’s plan for my life. I was writing for magazines on the side and scavenging job sites for writing positions, all the while feeling both restless and stuck.
Once my nose was officially numb from the impact of doors shutting in my face, I started rethinking things. “If this is really what God wants for me, it should be coming a lot more easily,” said Jesus never. But after two years of “We regret to inform you ...” emails, I was running out of steam. So I started thinking about other options.
Two weeks after being accepted into a marriage and family therapy program, I was offered an entry-level position at a fundraising agency that represented nonprofit organizations. It wasn’t a writing position, but it was in the nonprofit realm and would give me some proofreading experience for my résumé. The timing was fortuitous.
I took the job and made a deal with myself: I would defer my enrollment in the MFT program, work there for one year, and commit to seeking God’s wisdom and guidance in discerning the right path. At the end of that year, I would choose between going back to school to become an MFT and staying the track toward a writing career.
But that decision wouldn’t take a whole year.
By October — and through a series of events I could not have predicted or orchestrated — I was a full-time writer on the creative team at that same agency, now called One & All. Since then, I have been writing for nonprofits, helping them raise awareness and support around their causes. That crazy dream that was born in my little dorm room in Stewart Hall has become a reality — and this is only the beginning.
Lara Renee (’13) is a writer and fundraising professional based in Los Angeles. Much of her career so far has been motivated by a desire to unite her three greatest loves: love for God, love for others and love for writing. To read more by Lara, visit lararenee.com.