The good, the bad, and the death of dreams

I was thinking today about the past year and how much has happened and what a great year it was. I started forming a blog post in my mind of all the things I’m thankful for from 2017–Trey finally getting hired on full time by BCBS; a family trip to Kentucky and, more recently, Disney World; and our biggest news–a new house. It’s been a good year, and I’m incredibly thankful. But as I started forming this blog post in my mind, I realized that it was an incomplete picture of the past year. I’m guilty of the same thing most of us are guilty of–I tend to share only the highlights on social media, which makes my life probably seem much better/easier than it really is. I don’t do this on purpose–I’m not trying to impress anyone or paint a false picture. But I’m by nature an optimist, and I simply prefer to dwell on the happy things.

Even so, there’s some benefit to acknowledging that my life, like everyone else’s, is full of bumps and dead ends and disappointments. Yes, I’m thankful for Trey’s job situation and for the family fun we’ve had and for our new, spacious house and for a million other little things. It would be easy for me to announce the good parts without explaining all the difficulties that led us to those points. Take Trey’s job, for example. Working in the IT industry means lots of risk of outsourcing, downsizing, etc. We’ve been married for nearly 12 years and have dealt with almost non-stop tumult associated with his jobs. For over a year before he finally got hired on to his current full-time position, he was a contractor with no benefits (meaning no health insurance for our family). I won’t go into all the long and boring details, but let’s just say I was stressed to the max. I’m breathing easier now, and I have a new sense of gratitude for job stability and awesome perks like being able to go to the doctor when I’m sick. But it’s certainly been a long, hard road leading to this point, and I harbor no delusions that we’ll never experience job-related upheaval again. There’s a lot of good to celebrate, but there’s been a lot of bad to wade through too.

Or take the situation with our house. I’m really thankful for it, and we’re enjoying buying new furniture and getting it set up just right. But most people who hear our good news and see our pictures of it probably have no idea that this blessing is only possible because of the very painful death of another dream. For the past few years, our goal has been to build a house on land we own. We’ve spent countless hours researching, getting quotes, meeting with contractors, etc. We poured over home plans and spent almost $1,000 working with an architect to design the perfect plan. We spent another $400 or so on a perc test. We’ve paid hundreds in property taxes the last few years. And all of our attempts to build ended in failure. It seemed like nothing worked out right, no matter how hard we tried. We dealt with contractors who would fail to call us back, or contractors who would meet with us several times to start the process only to tell us they wouldn’t be available after all. We saved and saved money only to realize it wasn’t going to be quite enough. We tried to sell our house only for it to sit on the market for nine months while we kept it spotlessly clean in hopes that a buyer was just around the corner.  We finally admitted defeat, and it was heart-crushing. But I had to let that dream die to see what else God might have in store for us. I’m content with where we landed, but it’s not the path I thought we would take, and it wasn’t without pain and disappointment. By contrast, the buying and selling process that allowed us to move into our new home a few weeks ago was an absolute breeze, as if the path had been perfectly laid out for us. I don’t completely understand it, but this was simply meant to be. It’s made it a little easier to let go of my former dream to make room for a new dream. I’m excited to see how God uses us in this house and in this neighborhood. But in the midst of all the joy, there is some sadness too as I continue to release my own plans and desires.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this “death of a dream” concept because it seems that most people I know are experiencing it too in some form. Maybe someone is desperate for a new relationship or a baby or a new job or a house or some other good thing. Maybe it seems like everyone else has it, whatever “it” is. I can think of an area of my life besides the house thing where I’m struggling to let go of another dream. This particular dream may come to fruition someday, but for now it seems to be the wrong timing. Letting go of it for now doesn’t mean I’m letting go of it forever, but it’s still hard. But like I said, I’m an optimist. And sometimes letting go of a dream means allowing room for doing whatever God wants me to do or being wherever He wants me to be right now. 

So, yes, 2017 has been an amazing, wonderful year. And it’s been a painful, difficult year. And probably 2018 will be more of the same. I’m trying to hold my dreams loosely and be flexible because the coming year almost certainly won’t go as planned (for any of us). So here’s to 2018 and all the great unknowns! May we forever be thankful for every dying dream that leads us to exactly where we’re meant to be, and may we trust the One who holds our dreams, sees our pain, and knows better than to give us everything we desire.

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