This is for you dreamer. You’re the one I’m speaking to. You have had a dream branded in your heart for a very long time, years perhaps, and it feels like you’ve waited an eternity. Sometimes you question why God, or the universe is taking so long and allowing your heart to slowly bruise one little finger print at a time during the waiting.
How long can you wait? You desperately long to see this dream born. Like a pregnant mother, you’ve been nourishing your dream within your own body and soul- you can see the jubilation of her birth, the celebration with friends and family, the clinking of champagne flutes acknowledging your sacrifices and patience, and yet- nothing. Or even worse, you’ve come so close, only to have your dream evaporate in front of your eyes.
I understand the mixture of your exhilaration as you feel yourself moving closer to seeing the outlines of your dream form, and then the shock, disbelief and grief when it seems forever stolen from you. We’ve been there are few times in our lives together, and we understand.
Tod and I have dreamed of moving back ‘home’ to California for 13 years (for me, about 15 years). We left ‘home’ in August of 1994. About two years ago we decided to be audacious in pursuit of our dream, as a sign of our faith. We began talking more about this crazy dream of ours instead of just silently wishing for it, praying daily together, asking friends to pray for us even though they didn’t want us leaving, and actively working on making it happen with outreach to recruiters, contacts, and close friends. I’m pretty sure that our friends were sick to death repeatedly listening to us tell them, “It looks like we have a job opportunity!”, followed by, “Well, it didn’t work out.” I was sick of it myself! Do you know how embarrassed we were over the years? We have dined on humiliation so many times that we had standing reservations at the head table of disappointment. We started feeling like we were a joke.
And then we didn’t have time on our side because as we get older, we face age discrimination when job hunting, it’s a real thing and we have both experienced it.
Another challenge for us as we were advancing in years is battling fear. We can grow more afraid to take chances as we age because we become more “realistic”. Is it wise to mess with the comfort we have when we are getting closer to retirement? This can be risky. Fear is an equalizer; indiscriminate of age, race, gender, or class. And Fear is not from God, it’s the enemy’s ammunition.
We struggled a great deal with doing what is prudent versus following our hearts. Many times, we felt burned from disappointment while waiting and pouring our hearts out to God in prayer, but we just couldn’t purge this dream! Dreams haunt you until either you achieve them, or they dissipate, and you discover new dreams rising within you.
After many years of trying to create opportunities to move back, two years ago, Tod finally received a job offer back in our home town of Orange County. He had completed all his testing, his background check, and his offer. As soon as he began interviewing, I immediately bought moving boxes as a tangible sign of faith. I believe in placing physical markers in my environment that draw a future event I desire closer to the present. I was ready to burn the boats, because to us, there was no Plan B. I gave away most of our furniture that was too bulky, and expensive to move, I wanted to travel “light” to California. Purging furniture served as a metaphor to me, I was showing God and myself, that I trusted we would have what we needed when we arrived, and that if He opened this door, we trusted He would provide all our needs. Besides those deeper sentiments, I just wanted to start with a blank page.
But then about two weeks after we had expected the formal offer in writing, Tod was notified that someone prominent had unexpectantly retired, and that changed the company’s direction. They now decided they should not risk hiring Tod who wasn’t local and experienced in their market, instead they had to hire from within their company.
We had just spent two weeks celebrating God’s answer to our long-standing prayers for this dream, again sharing our good news with our friends and toasting over champagne. We giggled in bed at night over how we were on our way home and to reconnecting with everyone, our beloved geography, and ourselves. We imagined hiking in Crystal Cove park inhaling the sweet wild grasses while admiring the Pacific Ocean over the rolling hills. We planned our family adventures with Tiana and Lexie, get-togethers with extended family, and dinners with friends. We marveled at God’s faithfulness in our prayers. And then, in the matter of a 60 second phone call, it all vanished. It was a vapor.
Really God? Why? Why would you let us get to the last few yards of this race, to just yank the finish line out of sight? Are you playing games with our hearts? We were dumbfounded and silent in our anger and grief. We could only shake our heads in disbelief and heartbreak. This test of faith would lead us to our higher level, but we were so burnt at the time we probably smelled of smoke.
So here is what happened, and now in retrospect, we can see how God was working on our behalf. We of course were crushed at the news and gave God our grief and anger because we knew He loved us, we could be honest with Him, and truthfully, we couldn’t fake more faith. But in return for our exhaustion, sadness, and anger, God gave us His grace and kept encouraging our faith to grow.
Within a few weeks from this miserable time, Tod received an offer from that original company for a position in Orlando. We almost turned it down because it wasn’t what we “expected” our path to our dream to look like. We place far too many restrictions on how our dreams will take shape because of faulty expectations and our limited minds. God is always full of surprises and we can’t peer into His Higher intellect.
Tod took the position which was a blessing for us in many ways. First, his new employer was a national builder which helped Tod attract more attention from other national builders, his last position was with a Florida company, and that hurt his job search in the past.
The move to Orlando opened a door for me professionally and I learned a great deal about myself that I needed to work through; such as facing self-doubt, how to fight fear with faith and surrendering outcomes to God. I had a two-year accelerated learning curve of self-development that I hated in the beginning but now I am grateful for it. Looking back, I know God planned this adventure for my benefit, again to prepare me for my higher level.
What was probably the most beautiful surprise of all was our spiritual journey in Orlando. As soon as we moved, I began searching for a church immediately. I knew that God was calling us to become more invested in people and to commit more of ourselves than just our tithes. God wants to use our hearts and our time nurturing relationships.
We found Journey in Winter Park and dove in head first. For the first time in our many years as believers, we both led small groups. Tod’s was aimed at helping young men make better life decisions (The Do Over), and mine was focused on helping women realize their true, priceless worth (Women of Worth).
Our church family became real family to us. We were blessed with passionate sermons challenging us to live our faith out loud. And then one Sunday, our pastor preached on DREAMS. That was a catalyst for us. We turned and looked at each other with tears in our eyes knowing fully that God was talking to us that Sunday.
Our next steps toward our realizing our Dream was to be BOLDER. We made a vision board and placed our verse in the center; “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever dare to imagine or ask, infinitely more than we could ever dream, through His power at work Within Us, through the Christ Jesus, to Him be the Glory, Amen! Ephesians 3:21-22.
I journaled our journey and we prayed daily through emotional high’s and lows, through close calls and disappointments, through testing, trials, and fears. We also fasted in January to help us get clearer and minimize distractions. Then we did what I never wanted to do out of fear that God would withhold my dream from me.
We surrendered our dream to God. Through stinging tears, I asked God to let us know if this was never meant to be, and if so, to please kill the dream in our hearts, because the burden of longing was so severe. If this dream was not in God’s plan for us, remove it, but if not, give us the strength to keep faith regardless of what our circumstances were. I think that the tighter we grip something out of our fear of losing it, we deny ourselves the gift of receiving more than we can ever imagine from God. By surrendering our Dream to God, we opened our hands, and God placed in them the gifts of faith, peace, assurance, and our answers.
Within a day or two, we both felt more deeply connected to our desired move instead of distanced from it. I also had several dreams that showed me we should continue praying in faith. I have had spiritual dreams throughout my life that are very different from regular dreams, and I’ve learned to journal about them right away to find my lessons within them. Because of these dreams and because our hearts weren’t changing, or distancing us from our Dream, I decided to go forth defiantly in believing, and told Tod that until God clearly tells me otherwise, I’ll just stubbornly pray for this until my last breath, and if God wants me to look foolish doing it, so be it. Grit is something we should learn to apply in faith, it’s gritty faith that leads us to the promised land or helps us see the promised land right where we are standing.
We’ve waited for over a decade for this day to finally arrive and have experienced so much heartache in the waiting process that I feel like we must share our journey to encourage you if you too have a Dream in your heart that you’re waiting on. Timing for us is so finite, we think in terms of hours, days, and years. But for God, it’s fluid. He sees the past, present, and future at once. His view encompasses eternity, we can’t make God shrink down to our level of understanding, but we can learn to trust more.
What we have learned in this process of waiting is everything. Everything, yet there is always more. We have learned that God actually does love us all and has Good Gifts in store for us. God Is Love and because God is love, we should wait in hopeful expectation for His Goodness each day. We may need to mature in our faith before we realize our dreams. We may need evaluate our motives for our dreams because God won’t bless us with dreams that will harm us in some way. Some dreams actually die and are replaced by God’s Bigger Dream for us that is infinitely more that we could have ever imagined, this is something I believe wholeheartedly. I watched God do this for my mother when she thought her life’s dreams were dead after her divorce, but in reality, her new, vibrant and joyous life was just beginning. And remember that our dreams are not just for us. God wants to use our dreams to be a blessing for others as well. God is Love, and Love always wants to be shared, so how can our dreams benefit others too?
Tod and I are asking God to use us to be a blessing in our new home in Sacramento, a place we just visited for the first time. God wouldn’t place us there to be idle in our faith, so we ask to be open and see what our higher purpose is. Even though we don’t see the details yet, I do know with certainty that we all have the higher purpose to use whatever gifts, talents, and skills we posses for sharing God’s love with humanity and creation. We are holy vessels when we allow God to use us in this way. Isn’t that divine?
God has Dreams for you too dreamer, and God will rejoice with you when you rejoice, He will celebrate with you in your jubilation, He throws the ultimate parties and He is the Ultimate Dream Maker for your life. Trusting may take us time, but life is so much better when you know that God is For You, operating from love and in love for you always. We’ve learned all of this in the waiting. Not a minute was wasted, everything had its purpose. Your Dream is safe with God.