I went to a friend’s house a few months ago, and my daughter climbed up on their old wooden swing. She looked so carefree as she went back and forth on this swing for the longest time. It immediately took me back to when I was a little girl. I was always dreaming. Although I loved to play with the neighborhood girls (as few as they were), I also loved spending time alone…dreaming about my future and just about anything else.
I remember sitting in my front yard, putting my back up against this great big oak tree, resting in the thought that no one could see me (that’s funny, because although no one from my house could see me, I was right up against the road). This is where I would dream. I would also sit on my back porch or tree house and read books that would cause me to dream even more.
I remember walking in the field close to my house, just imagining what was on the other side of those woods in front of me. I wondered where the train was always headed that I could hear at night behind those woods.
I had so many dreams. My imagination was always taking me places, and I lived in that place often. It’s who I was and where I found great joy.
I had a great childhood, and not really too many things I can look back on and would want to change. I’m so blessed to be able to say that, because I now know how many women unfortunately had such drastically different experiences during their childhood years.
A recurring thought has been occurring to me lately, though.
Have I stopped dreaming somewhere along the way?
I have come to realize in many ways I have been just existing.
How about you?
I haven’t really been enjoying each day or paying attention to the little things that would surely bring me joy each day. Those things are always there. I just stopped looking for them.
I can make excuses about how I got here, but I guess I’m realizing that it’s not always about what is happening in this season of my life as much as it’s about my outlook on it all.
What is my heart’s attitude during these days when I feel like I am in a never-ending battle with my health? Many of you know I was diagnosed with Lyme disease (years after being diagnosed incorrectly). After treating it for a year, I was taken off the treatment protocol, only to find out last month that I still have it.
This certainly explains why I have continued to feel so horrible this past year and why my body just still hasn’t been cooperating with me. I recently started treating the Lyme again, but I’m realizing what’s even worse is that I have been allowing this situation to steal my joy.
Several years ago I was reading the book “Captivating” by Staci Eldridge. There was a place in the workbook where I was to write down my dreams.
I couldn’t think of any.
I remember being in a place where I didn’t even have any dreams anymore and I was very hesitant to start dreaming again. I felt so stuck, and I was not enjoying my life at all. I had made some horrible choices in the years prior, and the weight of the shame and guilt I was still carrying made me feel unworthy of the dreams I once had. My heart was so hesitant to dream anymore.
I had also been through some really painful times where a few of my big dreams had died. Much of my heart was still grieved, and it caused me to not want to hope for much of anything anymore.
I saw this as a way of protecting myself.
If I didn’t hope, then I couldn’t be let down. I didn’t realize, though, that I was killing any sense of joy that I would be able to feel in my everyday life, at the same time.
Looking at this picture of my daughter caused me to realize that I have (once again) been doing the same thing again. I have been just existing day to day and forgetting to enjoy the moments of my life each day, no matter what they look like.
In trying to protect myself from being let down again, I stopped truly living and started merely existing.
There is still joy and contentment to be found here. I just need to grab a hold of it! The same is true for you.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
God has been healing places in my heart in this season that I didn’t even know needed healed until now. He’s doing so much in me. It’s an emotional time and sometimes very painful time. This could be a time filled with much hope and joy if I have the right perspective, though. God’s perspective. He is doing some great things, and I need to re-adjust my perspective.
As I look at my daughter in this picture and imagine myself at that age, I have to ask myself something.
What would that little girl who used to dream so much think about the life she grew up to have?
I know this is not what I had imagined for my future. I’m not referring to the Lyme disease. It’s not necessarily the “facts” of my life that I’m referring to. I’m referring to my heart’s attitude in the midst of it all. What has my heart’s attitude been in the midst of this difficult season?
- Am I looking for the joy in each day? (It’s there!)
- Do I merely exist each day, or am I living each day to the fullest, no matter what I’m doing?
- Am I living a life full of regrets, guilt and condemnation for mistakes I have made, or am I choosing to forgive myself and live each day as if it was brand new? (My kids are much better at this than I am!)
- Am I holding onto His promises even when what I see looks quite the opposite?
- Am I focusing more on what I already have more than what I don’t have?
- Am I looking for God in the moments of my life, or am I missing the ways that He shows up every day to encourage me and show me how much He loves me?
I feel like that dreaming little girl inside of me is waking up and saying, “Hey! You are not living. You are just existing. Wake up!”
I thank God for waking me up, and I am determined to start embracing the life and joy that can be found right here where I am.
I’m choosing to dream again.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).