We all have dreams. We all have desires. No matter your age, no matter your gender, we all have things we want to accomplish, things we dream about in the depths of our hearts, and things we yearn after with our whole soul.
These dreams and desires run deep into our beings. At times, we must learn to give them up into the hand of the Lord, surrendering everything to Him and trusting in the fact that He is faithful. I know — there are many dreams I have given over to the Lord. Many desires I struggle with, praying for the Lord to make His will known in my life. Many things, small and large, have I given into His hand. Imperfectly have I given many of them; there are times when it seems I want to take them all back within an hour of what I thought was complete surrender to His ways. There are times when it hurts to give up a dream and grasp the Lord’s infinitely better plan for my life. I have times in my past where I have struggled to retain control of my life, not wanting to give the Lord anything that would bring me pain. I have times in the present, in the here-and-now. And I am sure I will have times in the future.
Yet, in the providence of the Lord, a few of my dreams are being fulfilled. Definitely not in the way I expected, most assuredly not in the way I desired, but they are being fulfilled nevertheless. Maybe a more correct statement would be that I am beginning to understand — in a barely-scratching-the-surface kinda way — why the Lord gave me these dreams in the first place, and why I needed to surrender them to His keeping for this time in my life.
I am going to tell you something that may surprise you. Something that may even shock you. A story of shattered dreams, and the image that is starting to emerge from the pieces.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor. I was sick all the time. All. The. Time. Mostly with an earache, and if some type of bug went around, I was going catch it. By the time I was five I had taken many of the antibiotics known to man (maybe only slightly exaggerated…..maybe :P). When I was six I had tubes put in my ears. When I was seven I caught pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week. And it was at this time I decided I would have a medical profession of some sort.
Being a reader, I read everything I could about healing people. First aid manuals, biographies of great nurses and doctors in history, achievements men and women have made in the medical field. As I grew I read all the family medical books Mom had to decorate our house with. I scanned through thick books filled with illnesses and symptoms — I actually had a sweet friend who is an RN give me a medical book at my graduation, not knowing any of this about me. I knew which college I would be going to when I graduated high school, and I had my whole future planned out. I would be an obstetrician (OB — a baby doctor).
It was about this time we began attending another church — I was thirteen. From this church we borrowed a documentary called “Return of the Daughters” — about how daughters were needed to fulfill God’s plan for the family in the home. We were all very shocked — not one of us had considered such a thing before. NOT go to college? Actually stay home in our families and learn to be a wife and a mother? We finished it and my parents asked what I thought about it.
My first reaction was that I hated the idea. I was going to be a doctor. I was going to make a difference in this world. And I couldn’t do that by being home all the time. In my mistaken theology, the plans I had, and the plans God had for my future, must be the one and the same. And I wasn’t about to give up my dreams for others that seemed so mediocre. Nope. Nada. No can do.
A few weeks later, a dear friend loaned me a book that the Lord used to convict me, and my dreams and desires began to crumble before my very eyes. I put all thought of college, doctoring, and everything else out of my head. Slowly but surely I relinquished my hold on that part of my future. There were tears and frustrations. There were selfish moments, and thoughts of “what if I hadn’t chosen this?”
And as soon as I gave everything to the Lord — every desire, every aspiration, every dream; as soon as I determined to be open to the leading of Christ no matter where He led me, a pathway that had muddled before began to shine out clearer. He didn’t give me back my dreams, He didn’t give me His stamp of approval, but He placed in my heart a desire to follow His ways no matter what.
His ways are truly higher than tongue can tell or pen can describe. He has blessed me in so many ways that I would have missed if I had rebelled against the plan He had for me. And I have the opportunity to do what I am doing now, at this time in my life only because I was willing to give Him everything.
At one time, seven or eight years ago, I envisioned my life when I was twenty to be lived on a college campus in Virginia studying medicine. Instead I am experiencing firsthand the skills needed to be a good nurse. If I had gone to college I would not be administering antibiotics through a PICC line. I would not be learning how to help people maneuver around who have (temporarily) lost the use of a leg. Learning signs of infection to look for, exercises that can be done in bed, the best way to interact with doctors and nurses, how to help with even the basic necessities of life.
When I gave the Lord my dreams of being an OB on the mission field in some foreign country in exchange for His plan of staying under my father’s protection, I never dreamed I would be allowed to minister to my grandparents in their home. To be given the opportunity to be salt and light to those in the medical field as I interact with them daily. To be so very close to finishing my doula studies and meeting nurses who are willing to answer my questions. Nurses who have been willing to let me get hands-on experience — I never imagined that I would have job offers as a CNA or a PCT at a hospital, either.
When I was convicted to stay at home until I marry, when the Lord convicted me to give Him my dreams of a home and children of my own, to give Him my desire for a husband, I never dreamed I would be running a home at twenty. Planning meals, cooking, cleaning — though imperfect at best as we have been gone all day at the hospital — it has been a time of learning to plan a menu. To actually stick to what was planned and purchased. To cook for two or three people — something I have always wondered how to accomplish.
When I had a desire to heal others, to help them and minister to them, I never dreamt that those “others” would be my very own grandparents. I didn’t know then that the Lord was preparing me to care for a grandfather who had quadruple bypass surgery. That He was putting me in a place where I would be able to stay in my grandparents home assisting as my grandmother recovers from a staph infection and cellulitis. From having one operation to fuse her ankle, and another one a month later to take it all out when the infection reached the bone.
I gave up my desires and dreams and the Lord placed a longing in my soul, one that desired His will. I still struggle. I wish I could look back and see where I’ve been; look forward to see where I am going, and remember these lessons I’m learning. So those days when I want to hug my dreams to my heart, refusing to relinquish them to the Lord, I can know — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that my God is faithful, and His plans are far greater than my dreams could ever be.