A year or two ago, I received a card in the mail. On it was a picture of a driveway and with something to the effect of “Dare BIG Dreams” in chalky letters.
My heart leapt a little bit with that letter, with excitement that someone believed for me, and then I winced. I winced at the shock of my own hope, at the idea that they probably didn’t mean “BIG”, but rather “a little bit beyond what’s statistically possible” for me. You see, I don’t imagine terribly unrealistic goals. I’m not one to believe in something if it doesn’t seem possible or realistic. I’m sort of pragmatic in that way. But I have always dreamed of one thing. I have held it openly, begged God to satisfy me, pleaded that if this desire should leave He must make it. Asked Him to take it if it was not of Him, if it was not good. But He hasn’t.
I have always believed something I rarely share with others, deep down. I believed I could belong. Really belong. As part of a family; a valued and wanted asset; a member.
A couple of years ago, I started to really believe it was possible for me, started to feel like I found a niche, a place to belong, people who were my people. You know, the kind that you call after a hard day, and they get it. The ones you build memories and traditions with and work out the really hard stuff that comes up with. I started to not just hope, but really believe it was possible. Inside, I even referred to some as family, something I’ve never been able to do. Something I’ve always wanted and have waited and internally hoped so patiently for.
Growing up unattached to a family is hard. Keeping all your belongings in a suitcase for years, very hard. Having no one cheer you on, check your homework, and teach you all sorts of things that young teenage girls need, that’s even harder.
Against all sorts of odds, I went to college. I thrived. Our president at the time used to give the same speech year after year on the first day of classes. He would ask, “What’s your Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal” (Also known as a BHAG around our Christian campus). In my freshman seminar class I had to write out what mine was. I switched it to “Big Hairy Audacious Dream” (BHAD). My BHAD was to belong, in a family. I knew it wasn’t realistic. Who wants an 18 year old? Not many. But I still dreamed. I wrote my paper. I re-wrote it. I read it over and over again. I wept. The only assignment I never turned in, EVER, was this one. It was just too painful. It was one thing for me to know, but to share it with anyone else, that risked far too much disappointment.
Because really, when people say to dream, they don’t mean scary, costly, out of your mind dreams that allow God to actually be, well, GOD. They mean, safe dreams. Accomplishful dreams. Dreams that are doable and won’t stretch us much. Ones that you have within your power to attain. It’s been a hard road to figure out that what some say and what they mean can differ.
Well, I’ve been a few years out of college. The last couple years have been pretty tumultuous. My niche is sort of disrupted and I’m starting over in many ways. And I grieve the losses. Though I have EVERY reason not to dream and hope for a place to belong, a family to belong with, and eventually a family of my own. In the deepest parts of my heart, I still yearn for it. And I still believe it can happen. The shear fact that I have so many reasons to have lost hope and have not, that is one of the strongest indicators to me that this is truly a desire God has placed in me, and one that HE is sustaining.
And hoping and dreaming that such legitimate family and belonging is possible for myself and so many others is one of the few ways that keeps my heart soft. I know I will get hurt more times than I hope. But I think it’s worth it. I don’t want to be cold. I don’t want to be hardened. I’d rather weep for the losses then lose that hope that is as ingrained in me as water, in every fiber of my being.
Sometimes dreams are scary. They leave us vulnerable in the worst kind of way. We can get hurt. The sting is intense and long-lasting. But I want to keep dreaming and hoping, for myself and for so many others. Though our world may see things a certain way, our minds are being transformed not to the image of this world, but to Christ. And all of it, this is possible. Truly possible. Even when I’m too scarred and worn to proclaim it louder than a whisper. I still believe. Because I want to let the light win at the days end.