What dreams have you had for your life? Which ones have stayed with you? Which ones have you let fade to the background?
I have recently had two events happen that have caused me to think about my own dreams for my life in new ways.
The first was a long overdue phone call with a college friend. Living over four hours away from each other, neither of us being phone people, and she not an emailer, we’re not in touch as much as we would like to be. But we formed a strong bond during late-night study sessions that frequently morphed into ultimate-life-question discussions, and it’s always rejuvenating to talk with her.
In our recent conversation, she reminded me of one goal we made at one such session: writing children’s books focused on the lives of biblical characters. I had remembered the wider goal of writing a book (a goal of mine since childhood), but had forgotten the subject matter. At the end of our talk, I had renewed vigor to begin working on this endeavor and said I would get an outline to her of our first character in three weeks.
The second incident that further got me thinking about my dreams was a conversation in a small group I attend. The topic was about grief and loss, and I was reminded of how I have grieved often over my lost dream of being a professor. I didn’t have the dream for very long. While my sisters and I did play “school” (we also played “news” and “lawyer”), it wasn’t until the second half of college that I began to seriously consider the idea of teaching in higher education as a profession. But after deferring during my second year of graduate studies, even the short-term connection with the goal has seemed to cast a shadow over everything I have done since.
The book we are studying in this small group asked a great question that has caused me to look again at this goal in a new light: Are there any losses you have not yet embraced where new life is still waiting to be birthed? I have always grieved my lost dream of teaching at a college, but in that process, I have never really allowed new life to spring from it. I have tried to bury it, tried to forget it, even tried to build my identity upon that lost dream, but none of these ways has ever brought full life to me. So maybe I have been grieving incorrectly.
Maybe rather than burying it or letting the old dream define me, I need to give it new water, sunshine, and pruning, and allow it to grow into something that I probably cannot see at the moment. Rather than feeling caged-in by the unknown, I need to see it as being better, with more freedom. After all, how stifling is grief that does not lead to new life in some way? It leads to stagnant waters. Like Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations”: always living in the exact moment of her greatest tragedy unable to allow something good to spring forth from it.
So I am trying to push ahead, to not bury those past desires, but to wonder how they may shape me for the future. This blog is one such offspring of this, and this book with my friend hopefully another. Maybe nothing will come of either, but at the same time, who knows what dreams may come from such a surrender.
What dreams have you tried to bury that maybe are just waiting for a new birth?