One night several years ago, my two girls and I were on my bed talking of dreams and the lives we hope to enjoy as a family. I was covered up--my two girls were tucking me in! Truth be told, it was a bittersweet time for me, listen to their hearts and desires, as I know that there are many dreams I have held all of my life that have not yet come true ... but I still dream them. And of course, I knew even then that some of their dreams would lead them far from me--as indeed, they have! But how precious it was to hold this time in my memory when hearts were open and deepest desires shared and we were all snuggled together as I fought to keep my eyes open.
God's will originally was that all women would have the opportunity to get married, to have children (who are by all Biblical standards, a blessing), and to do their work of life in harmony with their partners in life, their husbands. They would have the glory of being able to leave a legacy of righteousness, beauty, productivity, legacy and tradition. Through the family, they were to pass on righteousness and a loving relationship with God for every generation.
Truth be told, I want to support my children whatever diverse circumstances their lives hold and to be a source of love and support, if they get married, if they stay single, if they are able to have kids, if they work or don't--I want to be the cheerleader they need wherever God leaves them.
However, I would love for each of my children to have a life partner who will be their best friend, companion, comforter, to provide a sense of belonging in their lives through all the battles, sadnesses, joys and adventures. I would love that. But, if they do not find that in this lifetime, I know they will all find stable companionship and support as "I will always have your back," siblings, as the are a close group. Still I pray for it for each of them.
Yet, all of us find ourselves in a broken world, where few share our values. Many children of my own children's generation have ended up with broken hearts because of growing up in broken families, with wounds, with neglect or passivity, or anger passed on from generations of anger passed on.
I would love to say that my children will all have the opportunity to meet godly, righteous spouses who have a dream of building family influence in their generation. I pray for it every day. It is the pattern God designed.
Yet, I have also tried to help prepare my children for the reality of the disappointment that comes from living in a broken world, where they may have to endure the challenges of life with grace without getting what they had hoped for. There is no magic bullet, no magic formula to ward off irrational, immature people who will come their way, or to protect them from the evil that exists in every realm of lifel.
As we face another day, I am sought to give them hearts renewed for bringing light and beauty into the moments of their lives, to be a witness to the world of those things we have cherished in this life, whatever God's will ends up being for them.
C.S. Lewis reminds us that we have deep longings for another world because we were made to have those longings fulfilled. So in this life we live with the tension of what we can dream and imagine in a world that falls short of our ideals.
At the end of one of our Momheart conferences, one sweet woman, in tears, asked me, "How long do you keep praying for your dreams to come true, for God to answer prayers, and when do you quit and accept God's response as 'no'?"
Well, I can't answer exactly because I don't know God's will for her life, but I do feel that the older I get, the more childlike I seek to be. There is a temptation in life to become cynical and crusty. When I studied some of the verses about God's will this year, however, I was impressed again to pursue child-like (not childish) faith--to keep believing my God can do anything; to believe in His goodness and in prayer.
Maybe a child has become a prodigal or a marriage is a lonely one or brokenness in some form has scarred your life--and these are not the things you dreamed about happening in your life. The older I get the more I see the consequences of sin in our world and of people making decisions that have terrible consequences--and all of those things are a part of what effects our lives.
But we can seek to make our marriage stronger, one of peace, one where the life within us brings grace and beauty. Or we can keep praying for our prodigal and practice unconditional love and forgiveness in a way that will win our wayward child's heart. We are called by God to be a redeemer in the midst of our circumstances as well as to trust Him to work.
There is a seasoned wisdom in faith that says, "I am willing to believe in miracles because I know you can work in amazing ways in my life, Lord. But I am also willing to wait for you to reveal your goodness in my life in your time, because even while waiting, I choose to believe that you hear me, you care and you will take care of me even in the questions of life.
So, I continue sharing my own dreams with Him. I pray for miracles. I pray for Him to do great things in and through the lives of my children, Clay, and me. I ask Him to knock down walls, to stretch our sphere of influence, because I want everyone to know how personal, responsive and gracious He is. I want, like a child, not to measure my life by what I can provide for myself, but by what He is able to do as I believe and trust in Him.
It may be that some of my deep down, inner secret dreams may not be realized until heaven. But I can never imagine a time when I will be able to say, "Now I think God is telling me to live by what I can see and not to have faith anymore!"
And so, today, I am writing down in my journal just some of the things He has put on my heart to keep dreaming--and then placing them--and my girl's dreams-- into His lovely, capable hands, knowing and having experienced that over all my years, He has shown me His faithful love.
How about you? What are you dreaming/praying for? How can you choose to live as a child who knows she will see her Father's goodness and expects that He will take care of her.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27: 4