I’ve mentioned this before.
I do think it’s worth repeating.
I believe the secret to the dreaming life is knowing when to let go of a dream.
Here is what I have neglected to mention: that dream never really goes away. There are days when you see it back there in the past and you thank God your dream was never realized. But there are other days and other dreams. You look back at them and you ache for the younger you who poured so much of herself into that dream. You wonder, what was the point of all that effort? Was it for nothing?
All this makes you a little less eager to embrace new dreams.
I shared my story this week. I wrote it out: how God spoke to me and the language was my desire. But there is more. There is always more to our story while we are living it.
Here is Part Two: My dream came true (the dream I never could have imagined on my own), and it is good. But the old dream, the dream I willingly released, still comes creeping back. Some days, I look over my shoulder. I remember how in that dream I was called professor (not stay-at-home mom). In that dream I wore heels (not muddy garden boots). In that dream I had an easy answer to the question what do you do? In that dream I was admired, respected, and I stood at the front of the room.
Like many dreams, it was a muddy swirl of selfishness and altruism. Of wisdom and foolishness. Most days, I am relieved that I no longer keep office hours. No longer grade essays. However, there are days when I look at the interview jacket in my closet and wonder, with something that might be an ache, if I’ll ever wear it again.
I’m not sure I want to wear it again.
I haven’t given it away, either.
Old dreams are never fully discarded. There is no donations drop-box for the dreams we outgrow.
Standing in the doorway of my closet, fingering the polished fabric of that interview suit, I fear I am Lot’s wife. Will I, too, be punished for looking back?
That is a story I struggle to comprehend. It reads to me like something from the Greeks. Mortal women transformed into swans and trees and the shape-shifting gods who chase them. Certainly, the Bible is a strange collection of legend and history, myth and poetry, wisdom and epistle, but I believe it is God-breathed. Where is God’s life-giving breath in the story of Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt?
But Jesus says remember her and so I do (Luke 17:32). I remember her, and I remember that with the next breath he says whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and I remember that I have lived the truth of those words.
I remember how he lived them, too.
Maybe it isn’t a question of punishment but of choice. I can look back and cry my life away. I can squander these good days with endless longing and salty tears.
Or, I can listen. I can trust.
I can be grateful for memory. I can be grateful for the persistence of old dreams.
I can wake up every day eager to let it all go one more time, and one more time, because I know the only way to live is with empty arms.