In less than an hour of typing that final period on a story about how God has made my body strong enough to dance again, I discovered it should have been a comma. The new story I thought God was writing — one of a healed body and new beginnings — turned out to be the final pause before the death of another dream.
That pause was the uncomfortable middle.
The middle of relief and resentment.
The middle of joy and sorrow.
The middle of hope and anger.
The middle of wonder and worry.
It’s the place where we must sometimes dwell, where we have to come to terms with what was, what is, and what may never be.
Have you been there? Maybe that’s your story right now like it is for me.
Since I was eight years old, I wanted to own a property large enough that I would have to ride my horse to the mailbox. I also wanted to get married and have a family. God graciously orchestrated a match with a boarding school teacher, thus ending my dream for a property with lots of horses — at least until God rerouted us to a new mission field near rolling pastures and beautiful farmland.
My dream began to creep out of the corners of my heart after lying dormant for more than 30 years. With my husband’s blessing, I began to search for properties and quietly reveal my hopes to a few close friends until that Friday morning when I found out I had Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. After a month of frightening chest pain, I learned that all my middle-age shaking-it-up in dance class triggered an injury to my chest wall which explained a lifetime of dislocations, joint pain, and freak injuries. Turns out I wasn’t made for the life I wanted to live after all — a life of physical labor caring for horses on a farm.
You might think, “So what, go buy that farm and get those horses. Hire help. Research your health. Pursue your dreams!” But something happened to me that day in the doctor’s office.
God softened my heart to receive the life I had been given rather than the one I longed for since childhood.
Maybe that was the answer to months of praying Paul’s words in Philippians:
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
Philippians 4:11-12 (NLT)
We can be so hyped about living our dreams, pursuing our passions, and embracing the big and crazy. When we don’t, it’s easy to feel like we lack faith, like we’re choosing comfort over courage or forsaking our purpose. But what if life is supposed to be about a faith where we choose to believe the Word and all the promises God has for us in the life He has already given us?
Maybe dreams are overrated. Maybe bigger isn’t better. Maybe passions aren’t our purposes.
In an effort to comfort me, a friend said, “At least in heaven, you’ll have those rolling fields and wild horses to ride.” Maybe she’s right. I suppose I could live for that day. But what if my focus was more on living fully present, right in the middle of the unknown and totally rerouted dreams, rather than pining away for an eternity where I suspect I’ll be more undone by the presence of Jesus than a herd of heavenly stallions?
Isn’t God more concerned with us wanting His will according to His Word than having His ways fulfill our wants?
The middle may not be where we want to dwell, but I’m convinced it’s the place in which God grows our faith as we seek to trust in His promises and wait for His kingdom purposes to prevail.