“If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.” —Lisa Bevere
I met this week’s storyteller the summer before my senior year in ASL 3 (American Sign Language). Gracie Gibbon is one of those precious individuals. You meet her and immediately wonder, “WHERE THE ACTUAL HECK HAVE YOU BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE?”
As it turns out, we had been in a few other classes together AND JUST NEVER KNEW IT. What kind of sorcery is that? That was the ONLY time I have ever despised Texas A&M’s ginormous classes. Lucky for me, I got to take both ASL 3 and 4 with her that summer where we spent many days talking about our dreams and passions.
Although I wish I had met this sweet soul and friend my first summer at A&M rather than my last, I am so, so very thankful I met her when I did. Better late than never, AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT?
Gracie Gibbon inspired me more in one summer than 98.2% of people have inspired me my entire life, and she remains one of my biggest inspirations to this day.
When I decided to write a series about childhood dreams, she was one of the very first people that came to mind. I love her heart, her joy for the Lord, her kindness, her passion for helping others, her bravery, and her story…and I know you will, too!
SIDE NOTE: Everything that follows was all written by Gracie Gibbon!
As a kid, I loved being a helper.
When I was 7, my baby brother was born. I loved to help my mom hold him, snuggle with him, and I changed so many of his diapers. I didn’t like changing diapers. But, I liked doing something to help my mom. I loved knowing that I was taking a load off her shoulders by doing something little. I loved making people happy by doing small tasks that helped them out, and I loved teaching my little siblings about things I knew, and I loved helping them learn new things.
Now, growing up, I also LOVED Disney. Beauty and the Beast was constantly running in my house, and my sisters and I knew every word to every Disney song. All of our made-up games had something to do with a Disney movie or character. I dreamed of being a real-life Disney princess. They seemed to be so sweet and helpful.
I dreamed of living and working in a place that made people happy. I wanted to be someone that made people’s dreams come true, including my own, and I wanted to make magic.
In middle school, I met a great friend named Brandon.
Brandon is one of those people who radiates joy wherever he goes. He does not have enemies, he doesn’t speak ill of anybody, and he is friends with EVERYONE. We attended middle school and high school together, and both got accepted to Texas A&M, where we lived in the same dorm building. We were extremely close, and I still consider him one of my best friends.
After our freshman year of college, Brandon applied to the Disney College Program. I had never heard of it, but it sounded amazing. You get to take a semester off from college, and get paid to work at Disney World (or DisneyLand).
Brandon came back from his semester at the happiest place on earth, and called it the experience of a lifetime. He had so many wonderful memories with friends from all over the world. He talked about being able to make magic for families everyday. I knew I had to go for myself.
I wasn’t sure when or how I would get there, but I knew I’d make it someday.
I’ve always had a fear of rejection. I worked very hard in high school to maintain good grades, so that I wouldn’t be rejected by any school I applied to. Sometimes that fear prevented me from taking risks and going after things I wanted. I simply didn’t want to be turned down. I’ve definitely grown a lot in the past few years, and I’ve realized that rejection is one of God’s ways in telling us that He has something better down the road.
However, that fear of rejection still lingers sometimes, and I used it as a way to put off applying for the Disney College Program. I was also afraid of moving to a completely new state, leaving behind all my friends in Texas, living in a huge city where I knew nobody.
Texas was my comfort zone, and I knew I could be content in a 9-5 office job.
But God doesn’t call us to be content.
He calls us to step out of our comfort zone and fervently seek what makes our hearts happy.
My senior year, I found out I was graduating a semester early, and still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew this would be my last chance to apply for the Disney College Program. So I applied and I got in!
Christ was already starting to calm some of my fears, and I knew I had to just take the jump. I moved to Orlando after graduation, and started working for Disney on February 2, 2015.
Today, I get to work at The Most Magical Place on Earth, Disney World!
I started out working as a safari guide on the Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I got to interact with the amazing guests every day. And I was able to educate them about the beautiful animals we saw on the reserve. I got to teach them about Disney’s conservation efforts towards protecting the animals from extinction, and about ways they could all help in conserving nature and wildlife.
I loved that experience and I am very thankful for the time I spent there. But, I decided I wanted to try something new.
I applied to switch to Disney Photo Imaging (PhotoPass), which is my current role. As a PhotoPass photographer, I get to have more one-on-one interactions with the guests, and I really get to create magic.
Sometimes I’m the first one they see when they come to the park, and other times, I’m the last one they see before they leave.
Every day, I have the opportunity to make someone laugh, make a little bit of magic for a family on vacation, or try to convince a kid to smile (who does NOT want to be part of the family picture), and it’s the most rewarding job in the world.
There is one particular family that I’ll always remember. I helped them pick out the photos they wanted to print. We were joking around, laughing, and having a great time looking at their photos. At the end, I printed out an extra photo for free as a surprise to add a little bit of magic to the conclusion of their trip. When the mom saw the photo, she cried (actual tears) and hugged me, saying how much she appreciated the kindness I showed. In my head, it was a small deed to create a little bit of magic. For her, that photo embodies a memory she’ll cherish forever.
God has big plans for your life, which is easy to say, but difficult to fully grasp. God’s plan for your life is completely different than the plan He has for mine, but our stories are going to be full and beautiful. We just have to be willing to take the steps to get there!
If He places a stirring in your heart, you never know where it’s going to lead. If it’s a desire to go to medical school, or to travel to a different country, or to start a family, or to leave the job you’re miserable at, or to mend a broken relationship from years ago, or to pursue a career in an entirely new field, or simply a desire to make people happy, we have to trust that Christ is going to take care of us when we take the jump to follow those dreams.
I read a quote once (I think you posted it on twitter, Kristin!) that completely changed the way I make decisions. I have this quote posted in my room, and I read it every day.
“You can’t fall if you don’t climb, but there is no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”
If we are always afraid of failing, we are never going to get what we want.
Risks are worth taking, because true happiness comes from fulfilling those stirrings that Christ has placed in our hearts.
You deserve a rich, joy-filled life, and you are only going to have it once you put aside your fears and follow the Lord with no reservations.
He’s going to send you to amazing places, so stop making excuses, and get out of your comfort zone! Let God handle the rest!
(written by Gracie Gibbon)
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