Monday, September 8, 2014

When Dreams Aren't Really Broken

"Dream big!" "Do something great for God!" 

So many Christian messages
on the radio, at inspirational conferences, even in Catholic circlesspin God's will as whatever fulfills our greatest desires. But where does that leave us when the life God gives seems to veer steadily away from our heart's desires? 

I easily booked 10,000 hours of dance while growing up. There was something so satisfying about joining a company after college. It felt like the first real risk I'd ever taken, the first time I'd admitted to having a dream, and here I was, living it.

When I left three years later
newly married, pregnant, and looking for a job with health insuranceit felt like selling out. I've tried to return to the dance world several times, as a teacher and choreographer, but something always happens to keep me away: sick kids, unavailable babysitter, another pregnancy... 

I spent many years mistaking financial stability and health insurance as signs of Christian dream success, and many years thinking the high of shining in a spotlight was God's sign of favor in my life. 

When we got pregnant 18 months sooner than planned, I dropped out of grad school to pursue a "real job." I still wonder if these were the right choices at the time, though they seemed, the only choice. I still wonder if I'll return to something that was such a large part of my life for so long. 

For women, we receive confusing messages about life and motherhood: You can still do it all with a baby! A baby won't take away your dreams! It's supposed to be an encouraging message for those fearful of pregnancy, fearful of how a new small life might affect the life we've already worked so hard to build
questions men don't seem to ask... or need to ask.

Alternatively, we sometimes emphasize how motherhood replaces our former ambitions with better dreams and a better life: The fulfillment of life as a mother will make you forget about every other dream you had! 

There's, of course, truth to this. In my experience, a child is the most marvelous, phenomenal, life-changing gift I have ever received. 

And yet, to diminish a mother's sacrifice in choosing the life of her child over the life that she's known
to dismiss this choice as necessary, easy, or painlessalso, inadvertently, diminishes her love. A mother's love is the deepest understanding of love for many humans, not because it's necessary or easy or painless, but precisely, because it is not. 

It's easy to feel that the busy seasons of life are more important, or that seasons in the spotlight are more esteemed, or that a season on bed rest is just a big waste of time. (My current full-time job is hospital bed rest.) 

But I'm seeing that life is less a Disney movie and more a miniseries, and what I see as drifting from the storyline might just be a new episode. 

And I hope and believe that the Author of all of this pulls together our storylines into something greater than we could ever imagine or write for ourselves. 

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