How to Hold A Dream That Hasn’t Happened Yet

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. 

Proverbs 13:12

If you have been a long-term reader of this blog, you may remember a 2019 post about the dream of my son. In that post, I shared the very real hope of motherhood though I was neither a wife nor a mother.

I wish I could tell you that in two years everything changed…that I found my husband and we did, indeed, have that son. But that hasn’t happened for me yet.

In my thirties, I felt all the ticks of my biological clock. I was the only aunt of my two-now-three neices and nephew. I thought of all my happy childhood memories with cousins and felt the burden to provide them. I didn’t have the resources to adopt; all I could give them were fur cousins. I resolved to be the best Auntie I could be as I waited–somewhat grumpily–to be a mother.

The weight of that motherhood burden was so heavy that I used to periodically check in with my neices and ask how they felt about not having cousins. At first, it bothered them. Over time, they became thankful and didn’t care; they were happy to have Auntie Becca all to themselves. I played with them. I listened to them. I encouraged their dreams. When they grew older, they protected that investment and wouldn’t let anyone call themselves an “aunt” in their lives but me.

There have been moments when I have felt nothing but bitterness and rage over my lost dreams. How could God give me such a vivid dream if it is never to come to pass? Was it even God at all? Does He even exist/care/see me?

I have been through more than my fair share of negative spirals over this. Nothing hurts quite like having a dream deferred. Then God broke through with a different perspective:

Stop seeing what you lack, and start seeing what you have.

Be loving to those I bring you who are unloved.

Be motherly to those who don’t have a good experience with their mother.

Be a good steward to what I have given you, and I will give you infinitely more.

God

Within me there is a tidal wave of love for my husband and children, but I hold back the tide for when they arrive. I have learned to hold the dream of them loosely in my heart, and I don’t live my days with my head on swivel trying to find them.

I let God into my everyday life.

Now I live choosing daily to focus on Him and what I do have not what I don’t. Sometimes that takes playing the same worship song over and over till I get the anthem that God loves me and that really is enough. Other days, it is joyous adventure led by His Hand. Either way, it is a better life than the life before focused on tragedy and lack.

Patience is not a virtue I wear well; I have to fight for it.

I have to fight to have it at all, really. Time itself is a reminder of patience. Having just 24 hours in a day when you need 28 makes you realize not everything happens as quickly as you may want it to. I can struggle and work hard and give myself barely a minute to eat of sleep while I try to get everything done, or I can accept my limitations, do my best, and trust God with the rest. Life always turns out better with option 2.

God’s waiting room is not a punishment; it is how He works. It took 15 years for David to go from the anointing to becoming King. It took 25 years for Abraham to go from the promise of fathering nations to hearing that first cry of Issac.

God guides us one step at a time expecting us to do the best we can, and what happens next hinges on the faithfulness to the step–the opportunity–he has for us right now.

Pastor Andrew Price, The Bridge Church, Mount Olive, NC

There are things I have to do right now to be a good steward of all my resources and a prepared home for the blessings I believe God has in my future. I take that responsibility seriously. I guard my investments of time, money, and talent diligently. Sometimes that means I have to say “no”–even to people counting on me to say “yes”.

Trusting God is not passive.

I’ve come to believe that my life is no longer about achieving a certain goal in my personal life or career. I think, more than anything, it is about living life with Christ, being a good steward of all He gives me, and finding joy in the journey.

I don’t want to just store up treasures for some future glory; I want to find treasure in my everyday life and enjoy it too.

The treasure looks like many different things:

  • It is that friend that has been encouraging me for years.
  • It is the money slipped into my hand at Christmas to protect my pride and honor my commitments.
  • It is the play put on with excellence at my local theater that filled my heart with pride and artistic comfort.
  • It is the moment spent enjoying a good meal with loved ones.
  • It is sitting unplugged from electronics and crocheting or knitting something new to wear.
  • It is meeting new people and hearing their stories.
  • It is watching the birds come to my window and eat the treats left for them.

All these moments and thousands more are what I look for and treasure. They are reminders of a loving God and assurance that I am headed in the right direction. God has so much more in store than I can plan for today.

I keep hope alive and don’t listen to naysayers.

There are a lot of reasons why a woman of my age should give up on the dream of motherhood. In terms of childbirth, I became geriatric twenty years ago and having a child is a health risk.

Yet, I dream on. If it is truly God’s will for me, He will open doors no man can shut, and I will have a baby in my arms to laugh and rejoice with. If it is not God’s will, I have nothing to lose from living a life of love and service now.

I choose to listen to hope dealers like Pastors Steven and Holly Furtick from Elevation Church, Pastor DJ Coles from The 4 Day Movement, and Pastor Andrew Price from The Bridge Church.

Hope is not gone, friends. As long as you are breathing, there is still room for your circumstances to change. Focus on what you have and what you can contribute to, and let God take care of the rest. Life is too short for anything less.


So how do you hold a dream?

You hold it loosely and trust the Author to fulfill it or rewrite it as necessary along your life’s journey.

When Your World Falls Apart: What To Do When You Lose The Dream You Thought Came True

Another lifetime ago, I lived in Winston-Salem and worked with artists. I loved everything about my life: cool weather, historic places to explore, a beautiful townhome, lots of friends that gathered throughout the week, a creative job I loved, and volunteer service to help artists in the church and in the community.

I was living my best life–my best dream–till it all crashed to the floor.

I lost my job and couldn’t find another one. My finances ran thin, so I picked up part time work as a nanny. All the friends so eager to hang out before were now suddenly non-existent. The only thing I had left was my volunteer service, but I was quickly losing that too if I couldn’t afford my housing.

One night I was standing on the side of the road picking up dog poo from a client, and I had a light bulb moment. “What are you doing here?” I told myself. “You have a college education; why aren’t you using it?”

The dream I thought I had was gone, but I convinced myself that somehow it would all come back if I could just find a way to stay in Winston-Salem.

I decided to take on a roommate–first in over four years since college–to help out. I thought everything was going well and things were starting to look up. Then I overheard her on the phone looking for a new place to rent without telling me she wanted to leave. I was devastated and angry, so I acted quickly to take charge. I put in my notice with the leasing office, packed up my belongings, and moved home.

The Lie I Believed For A Decade

A lot of anger got packed up with me when I left that place. I didn’t understand how God could let me live the dream and then lose it.

I let the anger box away every good memory from that time in my life and tell me I would never again live a happy or fulfilled life.

I allowed myself to believe I never heard from God in Winston-Salem, and, maybe, I never heard God at all. For a decade thereafter, I lived in a cloud of sorrow and regret believing my best years were behind me. But God…

Hindsight is 20-20: Discovering My Tribe

Looking back now, I see things differently. The more I had tried to stay in Winston-Salem, the more I needed to go. My roommate was just the final straw in a long list of circumstances pushing me to leave. Sure, God could have opened doors of prosperity and protection to keep my dream going in Winston-Salem. If He had done that, however, it wouldn’t have been the full dream He had for me.

What I really had in Winston-Salem was a glimpse of my purpose and calling and clarification of who my tribe is.

Every Christian has a unique tribe or group of people they can talk to about faith and life without inhibitions. You have a specific set of skills that resonate with them, and they will listen to you in ways they won’t listen to otbers.

For me, that group is artists. While I loved my work with artists in Winston-Salem, I was meant to meet and work with more artists than just the ones in that location. I couldn’t have known that without leaving it.

Find Peace With It and Stay The Course

I had a choice to stay angry and distanced from God or forgive the past and move on. I chose the latter. Doing so opened doors for me to begin to heal from that pain and even see the beauty in it.

Understanding doesn’t come quick or easy, but one thing I did come to understand was that my best years were not behind me in Winston-Salem. A lot of good came from leaving, and a much bigger purpose for my life started happening after I came home.

Once you make up your mind to move forward after pain, you have to be determined to stick to it and not pick up that old grudge.

Allow God to give you new experiences. Put Him first and pursue the vision He gives you for your life. When you do that, you don’t have to go looking for ways to use your talent or feel fulfilled. God will put you in the path you need to go and lead you to ministry in unexpected ways.

Enjoy the journey!

The Dream of My Son

You would love my son.
When he was young, his black hair curled around his ears and bounced when he ran outside to play. He had long eyelashes that feathered his light skin like angel wings when he slept.
It was hard for my son to sit still–he was like his father in that. He was always on a mission to build the next fort, fight the next enemy raid, save the next princess, or build the next rocket to Mars. When his imaginary world wasn’t fully booking his time, he was in the garden or kitchen or studio helping me. He was always bringing me flowers or little drawings to make me smile. He was not the kind of son that troubles his parents; he was the one that lived to make them proud. My son’s imaginative and compassionate heart surpassed my wildest dreams for him.
You would have loved my son…if he were here yet.
Sometimes we dream about the future and what is yet to be. That’s the way my son came to me. I knew his name and his character long before I met the man that would be my husband. Though I have never held my son in my arms, I feel the joy and pain of his memory as if it had really happened.
I am not a mother.
Yet the dream of my son rests heavy on my heart denying the truth of that statement.
I am not a mother…yet.
This world is full of injustices:
One woman has an unwanted pregnancy while another tries for years to have one. One woman longs for a godly husband while another cheats on the good one she has. One child wants for nothing while another struggles to find a safe, happy home. One parent sacrifices everything to care for her child while another ignores hers to pursue her own selfish desires. Children are forced to act like adults in a godless world devoid of a moral compass.
All this angers me. All this grieves the heart of God too.
I am not old and yet, at my age, most of my peers are married with children having children now. If I think about it too much, I am easily angered by the fact that I am not there yet.
Why, oh God, do you give me the vision of a happy life, married, and my son…why my son!…when every year my body ages towards infertility or worse!
You may have said something similar to God yourself. God likes to remind me of Sarah every time I do.
Um, you know I made a dream like this come true for a woman in her 80s, right?
Oh Lord, please don’t wait that long!
But that’s the point: WAIT!
When the vision hasn’t happened, prepare your heart and life as if it were. That’s what it means to wait. Get ready in every way possible. If you can save money towards your vision, save. If you can get healthier, get healthy. Some complications and health risks in pregnancy can be avoided by losing weight and getting healthier before you are even trying to get pregnant. You’ll be thankful you put in the effort too when you try to chase around a toddler in your 80s…I hope that isn’t literal for any of us. 😉
During this time in our lives when we don’t really understand what God is doing or why we don’t have the hopes and dreams we planned to at this time, it is easy to start comparing ourselves to others and despairing at our lack. I like what a local friend and pastor said about this:
When you compare yourself to others, you rob yourself of what God is trying to do in your life. –Ryan Barbato
It is very easy to get caught up in comparisons and judgments of others, but we cannot change the world, we can only change ourselves. Furthermore, judging others fills us with resentment and anger about people and situations we don’t know all the facts about. God is writing their stories in the same way that he is writing ours, and he can make lemonade out of our lemons better than we can.
Maybe we need to start asking God to help us judge others from His perspective through eyes of forgiveness and love instead of holding on to our sour lemons.