Untapped Potential


Do you see this photo? That’s me in there – front and center. The girl with the glasses. Sandwiched into a photo with some of the most brilliant minds behind the covers at Bethany House Publishers. We were at a book store looking at cover design and treatment trends. That day we spent four hours in book stores just observing, talking, and bouncing around ideas. And guess who decided to take that photo – me. I said, “Guys! Selfie!”. And they gathered around and joined in without a second thought.

As I approach my 30th birthday in just a few days here, I need to tell you that I’ve had a couple days where I really started to have a hard time. Thirty is not old. Don’t overreact… I told myself this several times throughout my 29th year. I didn’t want to freak out. I never wanted to be one of those people. I desire to be one of those people that go into  each new decade with excitement about the future and contentment about the past. But about a month before the big 30th, it began to really get me down. I was thinking that despite trying to live life to the best of my ability, I had still managed to waste 10 years. It left me with an ache in my heart as I went to bed that night. How did I manage to waste ten years? Am I just going to waste the next ten? The rest of my life? I got up before Luke the next morning, which was a Saturday. I made coffee like I always do and wandered into the living room – still feeling the weight of failure. But I had an idea.

When Luke got up and got his own coffee, we sat down and started talking over all that had happened in our 20s.

Finishing my associates degree.
Losing both our jobs within six months of getting married.
8 apartments.
9 vehicles.
5 animals.
9 jobs for me. 10 for Luke.
2 cross-country moves.
9 church tries.
Leading worship in California.
1 disaster out of country vacation.
Starting a photography business.
Writing for a radio station.
Becoming a published writer.
Discovering our mutual love for house projects.
Losing a sister-in-law to divorce.
Going to counseling.
Buying our first house.
Both of us landing in our dream careers.
Losing an uncle to cancer.
My dad being diagnosed with Lymphoma.

And that’s just some – not all. We realized that our 20s were extremely formative. And you know what, we did the absolute best we could with what we were given. We followed God to the best of our abilities and we held fast to one another. Looking back at everything listed above, and thinking about all the things that aren’t even listed, I can hardly believed we survived our 20s. There was so much change. Maybe you can look back over the last ten years of your life and see something similar. Or maybe something totally different. But you may be amazed by what you find there.

So jump back ahead to this photo of me with my co-workers. Walking around book stores with these people had me in a daze. These are people that I would consider celebrities in my world. The Art Director of Bethany House Publishers – now my boss. Designers of said book covers. And there’s little me – following along and trying to soak in every comment and idea – all the while knowing just how new I am to the publishing industry and feeling more and more mystified with each passing moment. Have you ever found yourself in a position that you felt quite unqualified for? It’s thrilling, shocking, and yet absolutely incredible.

Once on my way home, I found I was exhausted from the day. Mental stimulation is sometimes the most exhausting. And yet I was so contemplative. I talked with one of my coworkers about their extremely talented brother – just a genius in so many creative ways. Long story short, I got onto a mental track of untapped potential. If a friend of yours was a genius or super talented in one way or another, but they were too afraid to act on it and take a risk to possibly do something great, wouldn’t that just drive you mad? But hold on…what if that was you? What if there’s something you’re good at but you’re too scared to do anything with it? What if you took a chance and found out you were actually great and it changed your entire life? On the flip side, what if you didn’t?

It just got me thinking. I want to take those chances. I took plenty of those chances in my 20s and I didn’t even realize it. But there are also plenty of those chances I for sure can pin-point and say yeah, I was too scared and gave up. I missed out on big opportunities there.

So back to that photo – there is no way I got to that place without following the desires God placed in my heart and taking a risk. And the key is this – to pray and follow. I wanted to work in publishing for four years before finally getting my chance. I had to pray and follow where God led me. Before Bethany House, he had me working in an industry I had no desire to be in. And during that time I had one of the worst years of my life. But it refined me. As much as I don’t want to remember that year, I have to admit that it did something within me that prepared me for the place that I’m in now.

So this is my point – if you find yourself feeling unqualified, but the desire is there and you know you’re good at something and people have told you so, then go for it! Set aside the fears and take that risk. Be confident in the abilities that the Lord has blessed you with. And don’t worry about it looking like anything you’ve seen before. Your story is never going to look like your friends, or that person on TV. There’s going to be long delays no one is going to see. Failures and triumphs that only you and your closest kin know about. But your story is your story. Enjoy that fact. Let it propel you instead of holding you back. Get out there and get it!

 Kristen Larson started writing in 2011. Since then, she has contributed to the Faith Radio Network blog, wrote devotionals for Daily Wisdom for Women IMG_46322016 with Barbour Publishing, and got her dream job working on book covers for Bethany House Publishers. She and her husband live in an adorable rural town in Minnesota, where they love spending time together working on home updates and renovations.

For more information, visit her About Page.


Cover Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash



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