Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Death and Birth of Dreams

Sometimes, I just want to pinch myself to make sure this is real.

There are only two or three dreams of mine that have not come true in one way or another in the past few years. I still am in awe that so many others have. I don't know why. I'm certainly not the prime example of godly living at every moment of my life. Complete honesty? Most weeks, I read my Bible so rarely I have to search for it on Sunday morning.

So why has He decided to bless me? I suppose it is because God doesn't operate on our "fairness" scale, and I'm glad he doesn't. I'm glad He loves me, a sinner saved by grace, despite all my weaknesses and failures. He knows I don't deserve it, but He gives His grace anyway. Thanks, Lord!

Still, I look back at the past five years and recall when I began this blog I was desperate for a job, in debt, with no love life, no prospects, and only my family and a dream of a business to get me through some of the hardest moments of my professional life. I clung to God and held onto hope that He would provide. I questioned so many things during that period of my life. There were times when I just didn't even know what I believed anymore. Anxious, guilt-ridden, angry thoughts swirled around in my mind at night. Thoughts I wanted to pretend didn't exist. Thoughts that drove me to read my Bible and pray even more earnestly for God to help me through it and to help me through and forgive my moments of unbelief.

My confusion and fear was driven by the things that I wanted desperately as long as I could remember: love, acceptance, freedom to make my own choices, opportunities for running a successful business, and the real hope for a genuine relationship that would lead to marriage, family, and security.

You know what had to change first? My attitude. God used my situation living with my parents to gradually bring me to the realization that I was using my helpless position to live on my own to humble me and then to convict me of my pride and rebelliousness. Sure, the rebellion didn't come out in dramatic ways, but I knew it was there, and that was all that I needed to know. I had to repent, and I had to accept that God had me there for a reason, and I had to accept that my way wasn't the best way. Once I understood that, I began to grow.

At first, the gradual opening of my heart continued with friends. A move back to the Nashville area introduce and re-introduced me to the people who would shape my life for the better. Friends who encouraged me and challenged me to grow as a Christian. Friends who accepted me for who I was. Friends who reached out and gave me a hug when a hug was most needed. Friends who gave me the ability to grow. And then, friends who inspired me to take the risk of looking for love.

I honestly wasn't sure if I could believe that I would truly one day fall in love. I started opening up to the possibility of talking to guys and accepting an offer of a date, should one present itself, but it didn't. The closest I came to a date that year was talking on the phone to a young man who was a friend of a friend and was traveling around the United States raising support to be a missionary. He truly had a heart for the Lord, and it made me glad to see his passion for ministry. We became friends, but we both knew it would go no further than that. There were other guys I came in contact with, of course, but none of them stepped forward to get to know this shy yet outgoing introverted girl with a bag full of dreams and hopes. Twenty-five and twenty-six went by and the likelihood of finding someone to share the best years of my life with seemed very slim, indeed. It wasn't until a dear friend suggested I stop avoiding "getting out there" and try online dating that I had my first date ever. At twenty-seven. Yes, you read that correctly. I had an interesting experience with online dating, complete with a crazy first date story, then having to crush the hopes of an over-eager would-be-suitor, experiencing ifrustration, holding on to the "perfect" guy for me only to realize he wasn't and surviving the breakup of a long-distance quasi-relationship, to unexpectedly meeting the real perfect man and slowly falling in love.

Meanwhile, I had had to come to know the shock and horror of true loss when my mother died from cancer, and shortly thereafter pick myself up from the pieces of a broken career and move forward in hope that there was something better out there for me.

And then it was like God turned on the green light. Love. Marriage. Getting out of debt. Financial security. A work environment that isn't toxic. Business plans falling in place. Professional encouragement. Things I had longed for for years, happening in rapid succession.

It's almost too much to absorb. Why now? Why me?

All I know is that I need to continually rely on God and to respond to these blessings with a grateful heart. I fail every day; I know that, but God is faithful.

What of the dreams that I still have? There's only a few left ... seeing my writing in print at a major publisher, starting and maintaining a successful business so that I may one day quit working full-time, and having and raising children who will trust Christ as their Savior and live for Him and make a difference in their world.

And you know what? Because I have looked back and seen the path He led me down to fulfill other dreams, I am confident He will bring this path on to see those fulfilled, as well, and if He chooses to allow those dreams to die, He will raise up others in their place ... dreams that will become the desire of my heart ... dreams He has placed there and will bring to fruition until the day he calls me home, the day my final dream will come true: to live in complete freedom from sin, forever, because of the sacrifice and forgiveness of my Savior.

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