Don’t leave a hole where your finest work should go.
Hold me in your heart till you understand.
Hold me in your heart just the way that I am.
With all your faults, I love you.
Don’t give up on me.
I won’t give up on you.
— “Hold Me In Your Heart,” Kinky Boots
When Billy Porter belts out “Hold Me In Your Heart” to packed Broadway audiences, the house comes down.
A standing ovation. Every clap, every tear, every cheer is richly deserved.
He is a star — performing the role of a lifetime.
Every cell of his being is committed to the part.
The discipline. The passion. The purpose.
Billy is on fire.
But for 13 years, Billy barely sang a note.
He couldn’t book roles that felt meaningful. He struggled. He floundered. He did not perform.
Instead, he languished in obscurity — and at one point, filed for bankruptcy.
He thought his career as a performing artist was over.
It was not.
13 years after stepping off the stage for (what he thought) was the last time, Billy booked the role that seemed destined for him:
A drag queen with a heart of gold who saves a floundering shoe company from folding under.
It was the ultimate comeback story. A story of grit, persistence and tenacity. Much like Billy’s own story.
After winning the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, Billy was asked, “After all those years of failure, what inspired you to believe… to keep the faith… to keep going?”
“God has dreams for you that you can’t ever imagine having for yourself.”
If Billy Porter had given up after a few abysmal auditions, the world would have no Kinky Boots. (At least, not in the way it was meant to be performed.)
If Thomas Edison had given up after 1,000 attempts at inventing the light bulb (yes, it really took him that many tries to get it right), the world would be a much darker place.
If Walt Disney had given up after critics told him that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” the world would have no Mickey Mouse.
If Madeline L’Engle had given up after receiving 29 publishing rejections, the world would have no A Wrinkle in Time. (My favorite young-adult fiction book ever. I’m so grateful she persevered.)
If Robert Goddard had given up after his peers in the scientific community mocked his ideas, the world would have no “rocket science”. No moon landing. No Mars Rover. No Voyager playing Mozart through the cosmos, just in case anyone “else” out there is listening…
If you give up… then what?
The world will be left with a hole where your finest work should go.
Don’t give up.
Do what you are called to do.
And if it provides some comfort, remember Billy’s words:
While you work… and wait… and work some more?
God is dreaming for you.