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The Year 2016 has gone nothing like I thought it would.
I had high hopes.
I always have high hopes.
That’s how things go when you’re a dreamer – when you’re someone who won’t settle for just okay, but wants to live a life that’s real and full of purpose.
I spent my New Year’s Day encouraged. This was going to be the year that things would fall into place.
I had finished college and had spent the prior couple of years working a number of different jobs, including living overseas teaching in China. All of the transitions were a lot of fun, but I was ready for some stability. I craved stability. I finally had a full-time job in communications and had my own apartment with new furniture that I had picked out myself. I felt accomplished, like I was on the right track.
It wasn’t just about the material things, though. My goal was to budget and plan so that I could give more away. After reading David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream and Francis Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, I was excited about living out my faith by being a good steward of all God had given me.
I now feel like I should have known that something wasn’t quite right even back on New Year’s, but at that point I was still practicing the fine art of “self blame” for everything that wasn’t right in my life. I had been fighting fatigue and small bouts of depression for several months and I kept thinking that if I could just get this system right or just be a little more organized that I’d be better. Little did I know that the unsettled, unrested feelings I was experiencing weren’t going to be cured with a spotless living space and a rigid schedule for eating, sleeping, working, writing, prayer and Bible study, and socialization. In fact, in the months to come I’d realize that the more I would push myself, the worse I would get as Lyme Disease and co-infections would wreak havoc on my body.
On New Year’s Day, I sat down and reflected on the previous year. I sat in awe of the ways God had provided for me in times that seemed uncertain. I assumed that things would slow down a little bit and I’d get into the right rhythm for my young professional life. I couldn’t wait to continue on some of the projects that were already brewing – like some new initiatives at work and the book I was writing.
I also thought that 2016 might just be the year that I got engaged and married. On January 1, Jonathan and I both felt great about where our relationship was going. He even wrote me a letter in the early hours of the new year before he went to sleep. Because of my adoration for words, his sweet gesture meant the world to me. I felt like we were on the right path…
But then, just a short time later, everything fell apart…
My health declined, and even though we were gradually working through some of our relationship issues, things ended up being set back…way back.
Over the past few months, I’ve gone from being content in this season of waiting and healing from illness to being angry about the circumstances. The emotions are up and down ALL THE TIME. Some days I am okay with the fact that Jonathan hasn’t proposed, but other days I am frustrated that we’re not married because I wish I didn’t feel so alone in this illness. (Let me just say that he’s actually doing an incredible job of taking care of me even without us being married or living together! I really don’t appreciate him enough!).
All this is to say that aside from still working at the same place (my job has still worked out with accommodations for health, thanks to my amazing boss), nothing in my life looks the way I thought it would.
I never thought I’d be writing about chronic illness and life with Lyme Disease. I never thought that each day I’d have to make decisions about how to spend limited amounts of energy because the wrong decision could lead to me needing to be in bed for the next couple of days.
I always thought that if I just tried a little bit harder that I could accomplish my goals.
But, I was wrong.
Sometimes hard work is not enough. Sometimes our best intentions fall short.
The thing about dreams is that when our dreams are aligned with God’s plans for our lives, they will come to fruition. This doesn’t mean that all of our dreams will come true just because we pray about them. This means that by letting God guide us and put desires on our hearts, we will know what to do and will be aligned with His will.
In Psalm 37, the psalmist writes,
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (v. 4-6)
Then the text continues:
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (v. 7)
These verses tell us that when it comes to goals and dreams, we should first go to God for guidance as we make plans. We can have confidence that He’s working for our good in everything (Romans 8:28).
Something I really struggle with is patience. That’s part of my “work hard” nature. I just want to push push push until I get what I desire.
Psalm 37:7 tells that that we need to be still before god and wait patiently. Even if God has put a specific dream on your heart, it doesn’t necessarily mean that He’s going to fulfill it on the same timeline as you have in mind. I take hope in the fact that while God did give me specific dreams that He is working in His time, not in mine. God actually does know best.
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes that there is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
This truth is another piece of hope for me as I wait for healing and future plans to happen. God knows what He’s doing. We just have to trust His timing.
Have you ever heard the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds?
It’s very 1960’s, but I like it so much!
If you’re struggling with dreams not coming true, listen to this song. It’s based on Ecclesiastes and helped me put things into perspective. Our dreams may not be coming true right now, but it really is okay. There is a time and a season for everything.