Thursday, May 12, 2011

on dreams deferred

When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn’t answer this.

When thoughts turned to words scribbled in hot pink journals, I didn’t pen this.

When dreams manifested as goals, as steps to take, as a path to follow, I didn’t chose this.

But God did.

My husband is a pastor.

And I am a pastor’s wife.

I saw us Somewhere Else when my husband and I were just dating, just dreamers, when the world lay before us. He would go into business and my calling was advocacy—I would become the next Erin Brockovich, or Mother Teresa, or Condoleeza Rice. I would fight and bleed and give voice to those who had none.  My major, my networking, our move, it all lined up with my dream and my husband fully supported me.

And then God called him.

I was there.

Right beside him, Bible hugged to chest, bare toes digging through matted apartment carpet. Something inside him broke, some hidden current, nameless and unsuspecting. The dam burst forth and he wept and dreams and desires found words and labels and a way to rise to the surface and become part of the conversation. 

And as if we were part of some holy cosmic game, people and opportunities aligned within months, without our doing.  A mighty hand maneuvered us to the place of vocational ministry,

serving the local church,

pastor and pastor’s wife.

I wrestled and I surrendered. It was no new thing, this request by God to lay down my Isaac for his will. I had seen it, lived it, before so I knew the drill. I would fight him. I would cry. I would submit.

And then I’d know the fellowship of obedience.

The fellowship that is sweeter than any passion that pulses through my veins, more real than the dark children who call my name from across the sea, from across the socio-economic lines of our city. 

I’m learning now that my heart was probably too soured by prejudice towards white, middle-class suburbia to be of good use to a loving God.  I’m learning that I had infused my God-given dreams with a prideful agenda and had made them about me and the identity I so desperately wanted.  

I’m learning how to love those who look like me, who have no physical need, whose wounds are deep and hidden, whose façades of perfection are convincing and deceptive.   I’m learning how to discern and meet the needs of my family, of my community.  I’m experiencing the thrill, the rich satisfaction, of the journey towards selfless.

I’m a pastor’s wife and I’m walking in the footsteps of another person’s dream.

But my God is good.

My God is here.

And knowing him in this is better than the fulfillment of something forced, something worked out by the determination of my independent will.

Years ago, I would be expecting God to intervene and make a way for me.  Years ago, I would be watching the clock, impatiently holding up my end of the bargain, expecting the reward of what I’ve claimed to come my way. But I know better now.

God owes me nothing.

Not even my dreams.  


  1. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart!

  2. Most people learn this lesson late in life. You're ahead of the game, still in your twenties. His dreams for ours. I think we ultimately win.

  3. thanks, heather! thanks, Mom! "still in my twenties"...not for long! the count-down has begun! :-)
    thanks for the encouragement--I still struggle, and I still try to find ways to take steps towards my dream. I don't feel that being a pastor's wife is incompatible with what I'd like to do--it just seems that this season of life might be...

  4. "God owes me nothing. Not even my dreams." This is a life long I learn daily. ;)

  5. wow, april. this really, really humbled me. you are a beautiful wife, and God is so evident in your life. thank you for teaching us, friend. your husband is so fortunate to have you ... bless you.

  6. God owes me nothing.
    Not even my dreams.

    As a dreamer waiting this is hard to hear but needed. Years ago I came to the realization that all the good I've ever had is grace and any bad is far less than I've earned. But like a toddler I still so often sulk and demand. I want an open heart that sings He owes me nothing, He has already given me everything. And as with every post I've read here April,I love the clear, direct way you bare your story.

  7. thank you, Joybird. I'm still hopeful for my dreams, for your dreams, but this realization that I'm not entitled to them, no matter how God-given they are, has been so freeing.

    Thank you for your thoughtful engagement, for your heart-felt comment.