My Dead Dreams

I’ve wanted to be a wife and mother, ever since I knew what that was. (This is no surprise to anyone who knows or follows me.)

Sure, I’ve wanted to be other things: fashion designer, graphic designer, marine biologist, office manager, writer, editor, missionary, motivational speaker, press secretary for the White House… the list goes on.

I’ve achieved some of these dreams, I’ve outgrown some of them, and I’ve seen the common sense in giving up on others. I love my life, and I’m happy with the choices that have brought me to office management with designing, writing, editing, and doing nail art on the side.

Sure, there have been some dreams that God has taken away from me; but I can look back and see that He had a good plan. Two examples for you:

  1. I once wanted to be an RA at college; I was asked to apply, and it seemed like everything I had been learning and doing up to that point was leading me to be an RA. I was fairly confident that I would get the job. And then I didn’t.
  2. Right around the same time, I ran to be Secretary of the Student Body at college; I thought it was a great idea, I interviewed the right people, borrowed an awesome power suit, gave the best campaign speech, and then lost by a super minor percentage.

In both of those instances, I could look at my life less than a year later and say, “Now I know why God did what He did when He didn’t let me get either position.” Because in less than a year from the death of both of those dreams, I suffered the death of my sister – and I was in no place to lead anyone at all. God was good in putting me right where He had me that semester that she died, and I had just the right job, just the right classes, and just the right people around me to be able to go through that with grace and not screw up my senior year.

The dream of wife/mother-hood, though – that dream lives AND it dies every day. Let me explain.

Of course my dream of being a wife and mother is still alive. I’m only 33, and I’ve heard of people much older than I getting married (One of my patients at work is an 80-something newlywed). I’m constantly weighing the pros and cons of foster parenting, and I’m actively praying about buying a house in the next couple of years so I can make that dream come true.

But there’s also another sense in which my dream of being a wife and mother is dying every day. You see, when I was a kid, I dreamed of being married at 18 and popping out my first kid at 19. That didn’t happen, and that dream died. I will never be a teen bride or mom.

When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I would read verses like “Rejoice in the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18) and dream of being the wife of someone’s youth. I would marry a handsome man, maybe someone from college, and we would be young and beautiful together and have the CUTEST babies. That didn’t happen, and that dream died. I will never be the wife of someone’s youth (unless I seriously rob the cradle).

When I was in my mid-twenties, I dreamed of being married by the time I was 30. 30 was SOOOOOOO OOOOOLLLLLLLD, it might as well be the end of liiiiiiiiiiffffffe. And it seemed like if I didn’t have a husband by the time I was 30, I would turn into a crazy cat lady who has given up hope of human companionship (even though I’m soooooo not a cat person). That didn’t happen. I entered my 30’s with my virginity intact and my spinsterhood looming, and that dream died. I will never be a bride in my 20’s.

Every day that I don’t have a husband to come home to or a child of my own to cuddle and kiss, my dream dies. In every dream I’ve ever had for my life, I’ve wanted it to include a husband and at least a kid or two by the time I was 33.5.

  • Every time I crawl into bed alone, I’m not just sad to be single; I’m sad because my dream is dying again.
  • Every time I drive home to an empty house and pray on the way home for my future man, I’m not just crying out to God for my man; I’m dealing with the death of the dream that I’d know who he is by now.
  • Every time I wonder what it will be like to make out with my husband, I go through all five stages of grief at once because I thought I’d know by now.
  • Every time I fill out tax forms, my heart dies a little bit on the inside because I invariably dream every year that this will be the last year I have to do that – and my dream from last year dies.

When I was growing up, my mom had a rule: Don’t cry because Mom told you “no.” Otherwise phrased: Don’t throw a fit just because you’re not getting your way.

But a few weeks ago, I sat on the couch and cried – yes, actually shed real tears – over the fact that I’m still single. I was like, “God, I’m so pathetic, I should be used to this by now. I’m so sorry that I’m crying just because You’ve said ‘no’ to me having a husband so far.” But God just held me in my tears and showed me that it’s okay to grieve because my dream has died. The dream of being married that night was dead, and we grieve when dreams die.

The truth, though, is that I’m not alone in this, am I? We all know what it’s like to have dreams die. Things we’ve hoped for, fought for, took for granted, or planned for – we’ve all had some dream we cherished ripped out of our hands.

My favorite story of this in the Bible is the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. God promises Abraham a son, He gives him Isaac, and then He tells Abraham to be like the heathens around him and sacrifice Isaac on an altar on a mountain. So Abraham, fully aware that God is requiring him to sacrifice his dream of being a father and grandfather, takes Isaac to the mountain, builds an altar, places his son on it, and raises his hand to kill Isaac quickly. Then in exactly the right second, the Angel of the Lord stops Abraham’s hand and shows him an alternate sacrifice: a ram, caught in the bushes nearby.

It’s a wild story, but I can think of many times when God required me to trust Him as I placed my dreams on a figurative altar. In some cases, like with my political race in college, God let the dream die. In other cases, like with my desire to be an editor, God kept it alive and gave it back to me whole when I helped edit and publish a book last year.

In the meta view of my life, my dreams of wifehood and motherhood are lying on the altar in front of God, and I’m raising my arm to kill them quickly and be done with it. But every second, I’m hoping that the Lord steps in with an alternate sacrifice (preferably my singleness, haha).

In the moments when I’m reminded, yet again, that I am spinster age and should probably start looking at cat adoption; that my husband STILL isn’t here; that the dream of being married today didn’t come true – that’s when God has decided to not spare my dream. Instead, He has given me more of Himself.

In the story of Abraham and Isaac, Isaac represented the promises of God. He was the chosen one of God, the firstborn son, laid on the altar as a sacrifice for the sins of Abraham.

In the same way, God sent Jesus to fulfill the promises of God. He was the chosen one of God, the firstborn Son, nailed to a cross as the sacrifice for the sins of His people.

In Isaac’s story, God provided a substitute after he stayed Abraham’s hand; in Jesus’ story, Jesus was the substitute, and God didn’t stay His hand. God very, very much knows what it’s like for His dreams of walking with us in a perfectly made earth to die; that happened with Adam and Eve. But because of God’s greatness and goodness, He provided Jesus as a substitute for our death so we can know in eternity what it’s like to walk with God in perfect harmony and peace.

In heaven, no more…

  • dreams will die, because Jesus will fulfil them.
  • tears will be shed on couches, because Jesus will wipe them (the tears, not the couches) away
  • heartbreak will happen, because Jesus will heal our hearts
  • sin will tempt us, because Jesus died to free us from sin (and that pesky snake is crushed)

So, yes, my heart may break over my singleness more than I’d like to admit; my dreams may die more than I’d like at all; my future husband may be taking more time than I’d like him to. But seeing God’s work in the past and knowing His promises for the future give me the

  • freedom to grieve my dreams
  • hope that His hand will stay mine in exactly the right second and keep my dream alive
  • assurance that His dreams for me will never die, because of heaven

In the death of my dreams of wifehood and motherhood, I get more singleness and grief, but I also get more of the presence and knowledge of Jesus. And that, my friends, is a dream that will never die.

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