So here’s round two from the Women of Faith Amazing Freedom conference.
In the morning on Saturday we listened to Sheila Walsh. She’s got a great story but I won’t go into that now. I’m looking forward to reading her new book God Has A Dream For Your Life. She started her talk by asking “What did you dream of when you were a little girl? How are things different now?” I’m not sure I did a lot of dreaming when I was younger. Most of my dreaming probably started when I was in high school. This may be due to my childhood drama but regardless, there’s the way I want or hope for things to be and the way things are. One of my struggles is finding contentment where I am, not at some future point when this or that happens.
So back to the dream question. I think I’ve always wanted the typical “American Dream” of a house with a yard in a good neighborhood and a job that pays the bills. Maybe part of that would have been being a stay-at-home-mom, but honestly, I don’t mind working part-time. Another dream I had, and the reason I majored in psychology, was to help kids not just get through or cope with difficult situations, but to thrive in the midst of trauma. I think God is using this dream, although I’m not always sure exactly how. I think it might be one of the reasons I’m working in DPS though I often wonder about my effectiveness. There’s also the dream of romance and the “perfect” marriage. But alas, there is no perfect relationship this side of heaven so we have to work hard at them, marriage or otherwise.
Sheila also asked a rhetorical question, “if your dream is gone, does that mean you can’t be used by God or he’s forgotten you?” Of course not, but that doesn’t mean a lost dream doesn’t hurt or cause pain and sadness. I don’t think it’s ever easy to discover that our dreams don’t line up with God’s dreams for us. I also think that all too often we equate dreams with happiness and like Patsy talked about, life isn’t always happy, instead we are often in the valley walking through trials. Maybe we need to walk through the trials to get to live God’s dreams for us. I’m not sure I’d have the same dream to help kids if I had not experienced my own trauma as a child. Something interesting to think about when we think of our dreams: are your dreams at the whim or mercy of other people? Of your culture? This is maybe where we need to think about our dreams and whether or not our dreams match up what God’s dreams for us might be. For example, my “American Dream” mentioned earlier. Right now I live in a small condo and maybe that’s where God would have me stay. Only He knows for how long. So I need to be content with my home and thankful for it, rather than wishing and dreaming for something “better.” Funny that Sheila also mentioned that there is a “huge difference between God’s dream and the American dream.” Knife to the heart of that dream J. Lately though I’ve been able to find many positives with my home and have found a measure of contentment with God’s provision.
Sheila also brought up idolatry and while many might be quick to say “not me, I don’t have any wooden carvings in my house,” there are so many gods we worship in America. What are some things I put before God? That’s a scary question. Money, health, security, the pursuit of happieness. I think my main issue is wanting to be in control of my life. Now, I know that God is in control, and I know that is a good thing He is, but yielding my control and my will and my dream for God’s is not always easy. Another scary question … where do I invest my life? Am I focused on appearances? Am I focused on how God would have me live and on what God would have me do? I hope the latter. While appearance may be important, I should never place that above God. Living for Him may mean you offend people now and then, Christ sure ruffled some feathers. So I cannot always live to blend into my society and culture, there are times and ways I need to stand apart from that even if it might be a little uncomfortable. If I continually keep God first in my life then other things will fall into place. Things may not be perfect, but my perspective will be better. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). Oh that God be my treasure!!
So what exactly is God’s dream for us? Here’s what Sheila had to say:
On this broken planet that we know the freedom of having the presence of Christ living in us. Jesus has not come to get you out of what you are going through but to live in you through it! Remember that God doesn’t change! He provides the grace to get you through the stuff of life. This ends well even if in the middle it doesn’t seem that way.
I think the first one struck me the most. Do I know the freedom of having the presence of Christ living in me? The power that comes from that? I’m not so sure. If I truly understood that I think my perspectives on my finances and my home and my life would be different. Don’t get me wrong, I’m headed in the right direction, but I think I’m miles away from my destination.
Here’s a tough question. “What happens when your dreams lay shattered at your feet?” I think of a friend who has a young daughter and after two years of marriage divorce is looming. My heart breaks for her. She wanted more children and I’m sure a broken marriage was never a part of her dream. Talk about shattered. However, even in the midst of a shattered dream God is there. When we want to ask Him “did you see that God? Were you there?” The answer is YES! All we need to do is put our focus back on Jesus and the cross. There’s where we can find the victory. I’m not quite sure I have any dreams that have been shattered, well maybe that of financial security, but that’s the trial God is walking me through right now so who knows what will be at the top of that mountain.
I think one issue we have as a society is putting on a happy face and always striving to “fake it till we make it.” Sometimes we need to be vulnerable and share what is going on so we can be encouraged and supported by others. What happens when we are vulnerable and someone responds in a hurtful way? Surely we should not let that stop us from sharing with others. We need to be a community and share each others burdens (Galatians 6:2). When someone hurts you and the instinct is to pull away, I say find someone else and keep trying till you find someone who will listen to you and meet you where you need them to without judgment.
And one final note, “God hears you and he’ll find you and take care of you till you are better and can fly!”