I was listening to this Francesca Battastelli (yeah, I have no idea how to spell her name) song and the lyrics go like this:
“I’m letting go of the life I’ve planned for me/and my dreams/losing control of my destiny/feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe”
I’m a bit of a skeptic, and I found myself saying over and over again, “Yeah, easy for you to say, Francesca. You can easily let go of the plans for your life when you get to be one of the most famous Christian singers in the world. Of course you can let go of your dreams when they are all coming true.”
Now, I don’t hate Francesca or anything, and I’m not necessarily jealous of her, and I don’t think that her life is perfect. I am sure there are immense struggles to life on the road with two little kids, and it would be very difficult to maintain a happy marriage like that, so I’m not saying her life is perfect. But let’s be serious – that girl’s life dream was to write music and perform concerts about Jesus for people, and that is what she is doing. She is married and has a couple of little kiddoes. It sounds to me like quite a few of her dreams have come true. To me, that sure makes it a lot easier to let go of your dreams when they’ve already come true.
I have a lot of dreams for myself. I’m a rather ambitious person, and I have supportive parents and smart family members that have led me to believe that I’m smart, and I’m special, and I have gifts, and I could be anything I want to be. Here are a few of the dreams I’ve had for myself: hang out with kids all day long, teach high school choir, get doctorate degree in choral conducting and teach college choir, write songs that are meaningful and perform them for people, be a minister of music for a Southern Baptist Church, be a wife, be a mother, have children of my own and adopt children, be a foster parent, be a stay-at-home mom, be a missionary anywhere, learn Spanish and speak it fluently, live in England, travel to all seven continents, be an incredible cook and cleaner…
Some of these have come true – I do get to hang out with kids all day long during the school day and watch them enjoy music, and I love it. I haven’t formally taught high school choir yet, although I’ve had lots of chances to do it short term. I don’t have my doctorate but I’m working on my masters in music education and the doctorate comes next. I have written meaningful songs and performed them for people (although not to the extent of our friend Francesca). I am a wife, and I’m more than halfway to being a mother of my own children (since one is cooking in there right now), and I’m a pretty good cook.
Some of the dreams aren’t quite as big of a deal to me – I’ve been a missionary before for short term missions, and where God takes me, I’ll go, I’m confident that I can learn Spanish if I just bother to do the Rosetta Stone that I already own, I’d be perfectly content just visiting England several times instead of actually living there, I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I can travel some more, but I can wait a while until I travel all seven continents.
Then there is the dream I want more than any other dream – to be a stay-at-home mom. I have dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom since I was 12. I remember the day I decided that became my dream – I was in 7th grade, and all of the 8th grade cheerleaders were pick-ups and I had to ride the bus with my French horn. One day, my mom got to pick me up from school because she was off work for some reason, and I got to hang out with the 8th grade cheerleaders and learn some of the cheers and talk to them while we waited. They were so pretty and put-together. I asked one of the girls what her parents did, and she said her dad was a lawyer, and her mom stayed at home. I put together that she got to be picked up from school and hang out with her friends while she waited because her mom stayed at home and could come pick her up. This seems like a small deal and very silly assumption, but you have to remember that I was 12. From that moment on, I was determined that I should be a stay-at-home mom so that my kids wouldn’t have to sit on the bus by themselves with their gigantic and awkward French horn (they’d just get into my van with their gigantic and awkward French horn instead). 🙂
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t resent my mom for working or anything, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with a mom working. I’ll be a working mom when my child is 3 months old. But this is my dream. It has been such a prevalent dream of mine for so long to live in a nice little house that is perfectly clean and put together and basically be June Cleaver or Donna Reed, that my heart actually breaks when I think about how every day I’ll have to “ditch” my little man when he is only 12 weeks old so that I can teach music to elementary students, which wasn’t ever part of my dream in the first place. I will have to spend 9 hours a day away from my kid because we can’t afford for me to stay home and lose my health insurance (yes, I do blame everything on health insurance, but that’s a different story for a different day). Sometimes, I get angry about it. It seems like so simple of a dream to stay home with my newborn child so that I can schedule his life the way that I think is best instead of having to trust someone who I barely know and pay him or her lots of money so that I can continue to do a job because we don’t have enough money otherwise. And those angry feelings are only the tip of the iceberg. Angry, angry, angry.
Here’s where God comes into the picture (because I’m a sinner and He should have come in the picture much earlier).
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Yay, I think. This’ll be easy. I’ll just delight in the Lord, and then I’ll get to be a stay-at-home mom. I know that He loves me enough to make my dreams come true.
Ah, but there’s an unwritten part of this verse that they don’t tell you. When I really do seek the Lord and delight in Him, the desires of my heart will totally change. I will no longer want the things that I want because I want them. I will want the things that He wants because I want Him. This is the harshest reality to accept – that no matter how much I want to be a stay-at-home mom, it might never be in God’s plan. So it is my choice. I can be angry. I can say, “God doesn’t love me because He isn’t giving me the desires of my heart!” Or I can delight in Him. I can say, “I trust you, God, because no matter what I dreamed for myself, your dreams for me are better. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me.”
I have to trust the Lord that if I can’t stay home, He will bring someone to take care of my kid who will do it in a way that honors Him. I have to trust the Lord that He will give me joy and patience when my heart is breaking every morning as I say goodbye to my child and spend all day raising other people’s kids. I will delight in Him when I can be with my kid, and I will delight in Him when I can’t be with my kid. I will delight in Him through the horrid sounds of beginning clarinet players, and I will delight in Him in the precious moments when my child smiles at me for the first time or falls asleep in my arms.
I will delight in Him because the comfort of seeking the Lord is that His plans for me are better than the plans I have for myself.
I will delight in Him because He can fulfill me even if my dreams never come true. Ouch. That’s the kicker, isn’t it? I don’t delight in the Lord because I know that my dreams will come true. I delight in the Lord because I love the Lord and I trust His plan for my life. I have to listen to Job: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” No matter what happens, will I praise the Lord? If I’m on my deathbed at (hopefully) an old age, I will look up to the Lord and say, “You never let me stay home with my kids, and I never traveled the world, and I barely had enough money, and I never got to be a minister of music because I’m a girl, and so many of my dreams never came true, but none of that matters. Praise you, Lord, and blessed be your name.”
So, I’m letting go of the life I’ve planned for me, and my dreams. I losing control of my destiny – and this is the life for me.
“Could it be that He is only waiting there to see if I will learn to love the dreams that He has dreamed for me?”