Grief. Loss. Trauma. Abuse. Sin. Sadness. Depression.
These are things that rob us of our dreams. They are but a few of life’s challenges that the enemy uses to steal away our futures.
And as humans in a fallen world, each of us is susceptible to being crushed beneath the weight of these thieves. I believe that without a firmly grounded faith in God, there is no joy, no lasting hope that can overcome these things in our lives. They are Real. Powerful. Heavy. Suffocating.
My family has experienced every one of these joy stealers. Every single one. And I know that we are not so unique. These are weapons of mass destruction aimed at the family unit. They require a firm battle plan.
For us, that includes firmly committed friends; friends that you can call at all hours of the day and night and interrupt at the most inconvenient times. Our battle plan includes therapists who specialize in deep brokenness and trauma, Pastors who refuse to forget about us in the midst of thousands of other congregants that surely need help too. It includes hours and hours of intentional time spent together. It includes saying no to commitments and taking each day as it comes so we can be available for the waves of hard that lie ahead.
And they don’t just steal our sense of joy. No, they steal the ability for men to lead as husbands and fathers. They steal our desires to care for ourselves and those in our charge. They steal our optimism and our desires to look forward. They steal our faith and our trust in ourselves, our loved ones and in humanity.
Who hasn’t had their faith in humanity shaken, just a little, in recent weeks?
Friends, I desperately want you to have that joy and that hope again. Like you, I have days when I protect my heart by expecting very little. And my children do it too. We say to ourselves, “If I don’t care, no one can hurt me” or “If I expect nothing, I’ll never be disappointed again.” These are the emotional band-aids we place over our hearts in an inadequate attempt to protect ourselves from hurt.
I can be so focused on the pain and the hard that I forget to look up. I forget that my Savior has never carried a burden too heavy for Him to handle. I know that is why God, in His loving providence, has surrounded me with people who aren’t in that season right now and who can gently lift my chin up so that I can see my Father smiling down. They let me be sad, angry or scared, without judgement, all the while reminding me of who I am in Christ and how He has loved me and my children in thousands of ways. They remind me that I’m never alone. They remind me that God “chose me for this task,” and they don’t judge me when I question what in the world He was thinking!
So for those of you walking through the mine field of pain today, who hear the buzz of these arrows flying past your head over and over again, I want you to know that there is joy to be had again. Hang on. You are not alone.
To the grieving mother who has lost a child, who can’t leave their room, or who isn’t ready to resume normal activities, I see you. I see you on the nursery floor surrounded by pictures and clothes. I know you aren’t ready to box it all up and send it away. It’s ok. God is near.
To the child who’s been abandoned and abused. What has happened to you is NOT who you are. You are lovable and worthy. You are precious beyond words and if you just hang on, it is possible to really believe that in your heart one day. God will redeem the bad things and make them new.
To the single parent who falls down exhausted every night and second guesses each decision throughout the day, you are enough. God has not left you and your circumstances are not outside of His control. Keep your eyes on Him. Let Him be your spouse and comforter, counselor and friend.
To those who have betrayed, abused or cheated another. You are made in the image of God. In Him there is complete forgiveness of all your sin. There is freedom from the bondage that it has left you in and you are loved. You can write a new story for your life and allow Him to use you.
I recently saw a Facebook post from a former coworker announcing her pregnancy. She has known the pain and sorrow of children lost. She has every reason to be fearful and protective of her heart. But, she reminded me in this post that, with God, it’s safe to dream again! Dreaming does not betray your grief. It does not disrespect your lost loved ones. Dreaming allows us to open our arms, even if it’s just a tiny little bit, and receive what God has in store for us. It is a statement of your faith in Him.
My dreams may be small, but they are there. And I’m choosing to acknowledge them a little more each day.
I dream again that God could use me. When you have so much baggage and pain, it’s hard to imagine that God could, or better yet, would use you. But He’s teaching me that when we are willing to step out and say yes, He delights in using whatever meager offerings we have to give. So I’m opening my hands and asking Him to take what I have and make something beautiful out of it.
I dream that one day my hurting children will be completely free in Christ. I dream that they could boldly share the pain and hurt of their pasts to glorify God and proclaim Him to a watching world. I pray they will be free to say the hard things and love those who also hurt.
What dreams do you have? With Him, it’s safe to dream again…