Have you ever jumped head first into a dream with big plans and great expectations to later find that the dream seems to have lots of road blocks and sharp U-turns?
The first real example of this in my life happened when I was fourteen. At that time, I lived for sports. Softball, basketball and even cross-country running. I loved the competition, the team camaraderie, and I began making really big plans. Even though it was years in the future, I’d always dreamed of playing a college sport. And, for a while, things really seems to be lining up in my favor. But then, in the third game of the year, on the 8th-grade Lady Warrior Basketball team, I fell and so did my dream.
I heard the pop. I felt the tear. In a moment, everything changed. The next few days were filled with x-rays and doctors appointments. My fears were ultimately confirmed – I needed knee surgery. Conversation quickly turned from talking about the next big game to discussing when I would walk again. My world turned upside down.
I would love to give you a great comeback story about how I fought back really hard and all my dreams came true. But, that didn’t happen. Although I fought back really hard, my surgeon still suggested that I quit playing basketball. He did allow me to continue playing softball, but when I returned things were very different because I was different. I played with a need brace that somewhat limited me and, also, constantly reminded me of my injury. And, while I was fighting hard to rehab my knee, my team mates played an extra season of softball and in a lot of ways surpassed me in skills and confidence. But, perhaps the most significant difference in me was that the fight I once had to win games had been replaced with a fight to stand, walk, and just do my normal activities.
The girl who fell on that basketball court was not the same girl who stepped on that softball field almost a year later. I’d been through some pain and, in a lot of ways, it changed me. For, what I wanted out of life was taking a U-turn. I was scared, frustrated and a little lost by this unexpected change. I didn’t really belong where I once felt so comfortable. And, although it was sometimes pure agony watching others succeed in ways I once dreamed, I felt the tug of my heart pull in a different direction.
You see, out of this pain I realized part of my life’s calling. I’d always been interested in medicine, but literally watching all of the moving parts began to confirm my career choice. And, although I couldn’t see it at the time, there was a nudge in my soul pushing me a direction that has shaped my adult life.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this did not come without countless tears mourning the life I once wanted. I cried myself to sleep many times after softball games knowing that I was slowly letting go something I’d once held so dear. And, even though new dreams were replacing old dreams, my heart still ached.
This pattern of new dreams replacing old dreams has somewhat been a recurring theme in my life and it never gets easier. In fact, my family and I are going through a huge change as we speak. For several days, I’ve wrestled with sharing my heart about my current circumstances. Because, for months now, I’ve felt very much like that fourteen-year-old girl who walked on the softball field for the first time – scared, frustrated and a little lost.
The dreams of my husband, myself and really our family for the past six years has recently taken a U-turn. Road blocks in my husbands career have been frequent over the past year and we’ve both felt a nudge in our soul pushing us in a different direction. And, last week my husband left his band. Even though, for months we’ve felt old dreams being replaced by new dreams, my heart still aches. It aches for what could have been and for what it wasn’t. It aches over friendships and amazing memories. And, it aches because letting go is hard and saying goodbye is sometimes agony.
Still, through the recent pain of moving on, I’ve felt a truth that was present in my fourteen-year-old circumstances and in every other U-turn and road block over the years. God is here, right here.
C. S. Lewis said, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains”.
He’s here in my pain, current and past. Not causing it but using it to build new dreams he’s placed in my heart. You see, I don’t for a minute believe that God caused my injury back in 1994, but I do know that he restored every tear that I cried. All the while, pointing me in a direction that I could have never imagined. You see, I believe that while He had my attention through the sometimes excruciating knee pain, He did a whole lot more than just give me the strength to make it through an hour of physical therapy – He gave me new dreams that far surpassed the old dreams. He sparked an interest and gave me an empathy for people that I would have never had otherwise. Nudging me toward new dreams and holding my hand while I let go of old ones.
Over this past week, through the tears I’ve cried and the countless moments when I’ve felt scared, frustrated and a little lost, I believe He’s once again nudging in new directions and helping me let go at the same time. I’m slowly learning to look at pain as an opportunity to see God’s greatness for my life unfold. To see the new dreams surpass the old dreams in ways that I couldn’t have otherwise imagined. I guess I’m learning to let go, move forward and let God be God.
So, if you’re facing circumstances that scare you, frustrate you and leave you a little lost, I’d encourage you to do the same. Let go, move forward and let God be God. Let Him speak to you loudly in your pain. Cry the tears knowing that they will be restored and then hold tightly to the truth that He is right beside you. Because years ago, when I saw a knee injury, God saw a nurse. And, He walked with me then, just as He’s doing now, replacing old dreams with new dreams and building a life that I could have never imagined.