When my husband and I left Freiburg ten years ago, I thought it was the last time I would feel smooth, curved German cobblestones under the arches of my feet.
On those carefully placed stones, each one connected to the other, I once walked regularly until my legs hurt. In that city, I learned to ride a bike in a sea of traffic, the signal of my outstretched arm as effective as a car’s blinking red light. The smell of cigarette smoke, coffee breath, and fresh rain on stone and concrete will always remind me of some of my deepest conversations with those in Freiburg about who Jesus is and how He loves them.
The memories I kept of that unique city were like evocative pictures etched with joy and ache. Joy for the gift of having lived there as a foreigner, a learner, and a minister, waking to the wonder of finding God’s face in a culture that wasn’t my own but undoubtedly His. Ache for the way it has always reminded me of a dream that died.
We had felt so sure about the call to ministry on our lives even before we got married. It was the very thing that first connected us as a couple, the thing that took us from one address and assignment to another and eventually to Freiburg. Freiburg was one of our last stops, the last clear call we heard from God, our last hope to see if something in ministry might actually work out for us in the long haul. But what had once felt like the greatest purpose of our lives — both as individuals and as a couple — started to seem like wearing clothes in the wrong size. We wrestled to make it fit, constantly adjusting and readjusting the way we looked at the future.
After Freiburg, we moved back to the States and left full-time ministry, a move that led us slowly and gently into wilderness and silence.
We clung to each other as we wrestled through the wake of dreams dying. There were days of melancholy and longing, repeated prayers of pleading to be called back to what was, tearful nights and quiet, lonely dinners. It terrified me when these days piled up, one after another, seemingly void of God’s voice and any clear leading other than to love each other and try to build something together no matter how simple. The nagging feeling that we were doing something wrong or that we ourselves were wrong and not good enough to be in ministry followed me around like a ugly shadow. The silence of that season uncovered my belief that being in ministry was evidence of God’s favor, love, and delight.
But about three weeks ago, after years of walking in wilderness and then more years of being invited to birthing and building new dreams, we went back. I watched our kids walk on Freiburg’s cobblestone streets, making up games about which stones to step on and which to step over. I witnessed their eyes, fresh with curiosity and discovery, take in new scenery. I witnessed their mouths, trying new tastes and textures, receiving some and rejecting others. They tried communicating with new sounds and symbols and their view of the world stretched wider than it had been. Seeing their delight was like a spring resurrection of an old dream long gone being made into something colorful, vibrant, and new.
One afternoon on our trip, I met an old friend for a latte macchiato. As she and I sat across from each other, she went on to tell me that the years we met regularly to talk about who Jesus was and how to study the Bible gave her a sure foundation for her longstanding faith and the faith of her family today. I listened while taking bites of Apfelkuchen, her words and the rain crashing outside like a thousand pieces of all the things I thought were lost now here again, piling into puddles of what was and what can be.
I am amazed by the story God was writing all along and grateful for a glimpse of it after so many years of questioning and wondering what had gone wrong. As our kids splashed in the cool bächle streams that run throughout the city center, I marveled at our daughter’s laughter and contentment – her story unfolding before my eyes and in our family, now connected to Germany herself. Adoption hadn’t even been on our radar the last time we had stood there with those very stones under our feet. I saw then what I couldn’t see ten years ago: the death of my dream was not the death of God’s dreams for me.
Maybe you are facing the same death or facing the wilderness of waiting for an answer. Maybe right now nothing makes sense and you’re questioning who you are or how you fit. Behind the veil of silent seasons, loss, drudgery, and dreams come undone, know that you are deeply loved and delighted in. God is at work. He is building new things in you and for you and these days of wrestling, each one placed one after another like cobblestone, will serve to build a beautiful path forward. There are new things to come.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Beautiful….I felt those cobblestones under my feet. The death of any dream …be it a ministry or a marriage is something that needs to be mourned and grieved. I have felt the death of dreams for different reasons. It’s so easy to get stuck in the “What If’s” and the “If Only’s”….that’s natural. There are so many scriptures that remind us that while all we see is death and dying, God is at work redeeming and renewing. Psalm 30:5 reminds me that He turns our mourning into dancing: Weeping may stay the night, but joy comes in the morning. Thank you for a wonderful reminder that God is ALWAYS at work and there are always new dreams to come.
Thank you so much, Bev. I am still in awe of the way God can renew and redeem and I am continually learning to believe and cling to this throughout all the seasons that come. Thank you for your encouraging words and scripture reminders that we can hold fast to.
Michele Morin says
It’s such a joy, Tasha, to find you words here this morning, and to be reminded that the end of one very good thing can be the beginning of another very good thing in God’s timing.
Thank you, dear Michele. I am grateful for your encouragement and wisdom.
Blessings to you Tasha. I needed to be reminded of this very message this morning. I still cry and wonder why my marriage ended(well I know why… adultery and a narcissistic husband)but my dream of a home and family is gone. I feel like I’ve been in that wilderness.
I know God has a plan and I have to pray for my heart to trust.
Thank you again
I truly can identify with your pain. Some dreams seem to break our very souls in their dying. Remember what “seems” to be is not often what is. God loves you, His beautiful daughter. He wants to bless you and the situation you were in was not where you needed to be. Wait on Him. Be patient, knowing He loves you, surounds you, protects you, blesses you. Dream new dreams and share them with your loving Father. He will see you through.
Oh Deborah, I am so very sorry for your great loss and for how you have been hurt. My heart aches for the depth of pain that you must be walking through and feeling as you grieve and mourn. Right now, I pray that God would surround you with people that can believe in God’s good for you on the days when you cannot. I pray that God would cover you in his unfailing love and show you where he is slowly building something new. Thank you for sharing your heart and being here. You are not alone.
Beth Williams says
So sorry for the loss of that marriage. Trust God knows best for you. He will make beauty out of ashes. He can plant new dreams in your heart. Wait patiently on Him & watch His love work in you. He will set you on the path of His planning.
I love this! Thank you for sharing hope for all of us. So often when we are in the middle of the wilderness it is hard to cling to the truth that God has good things in store for us because all we see is our dying dream. Thank you for sharing your story and encouraging all of us.
Thank you, Esther. It is so hard to cling to that truth in the wilderness, but it helps so much when we know we aren’t alone and we can share the stories of God’s faithfulness and the beauty of his dreams for us come true. I am so grateful for the way we have been able to do this in real life, friend!
Beth Williams says
Your story is a reminder that He can bring beauty out of ashes. We never know the good we are/have done until a later time. Everyone has a dream they hope to fulfill. Life is full of twists, turns & choices. We must learn to trust that God has our best in mind. We need to mourn our lost dreams for a season then move on. God gives us a present “each new day”. A chance to start over fresh. Here is a saying i found: Each morning is a new opportunity to shine, a chance to give the past a kick in the pants & the future a bear hug!!
Thank you so much, Beth. I like that saying – what a great picture of how to walk into a new day. I am sure I do the very opposite of that some mornings, but I am so grateful for the way God’s grace leads me ahead despite myself.
Bobbi Lynn Miller says
Thank you so much for sharing . We’re currently in the wilderness ,waiting and agonizing over what God wants us to do now . After 8 long yrs. Of sacrificing for my husband to finish his Bachlors degree in Respitory , the school informed him he was out of the program ,due to a 5 yr. Program time limit . He was 2 classes shy of graduating. He’s 51,and had to work while struggling thru school ,so it took longer. We have 3 kids, and now have nothing to show for all his struggle, except a ton of student loan debt. I keep claiming Gods promises. Just longing for direction.
Oh my goodness, Bobbi, that is devastating. I am so sorry. I will ask God for that direction you are longing for, and for another way to complete what you and your husband have been hard at work for, and that you would know you are held by The One who is faithful through every obstacle and detour. As you claim those promises, I also pray that you and your husband will find room for lament – God meets us there.
Bobbi Lynn Miller says
Thank you, Tasha for responding. It’s hard to hear the anguish in my husband’s questions ,of why would God bring him so close, just to let the door slam shut in his face ? I keep replying ,that I don’t have any answers, and it is confusing . But I believe God is Sovereign, and faithful . We must trust His heart.
Your husband’s story was mine many years ago. My dream was to be a high school math teacher. The head of the math department stood in my way and it was because of my gender. With only two classes to graduation, he refused to sign the required forms so that I could take them. I was so angry but God took what I had accomplished, gave me a degree in something I had never considered, and the best career. More than I could have imagined.
I know the pain and anguish you’re going through and will pray that God will give you direction, comfort, and open doors that will lead you down a most amazing path.
Your story is almost identical to ours. Although we are still in the wilderness, my thoughts are exactly yours. We have continued to walk by faith, and it’s nice to read that your story had a joyful closure and a new beginning. It gives me hope for our journey.
Thank you for sharing.
As time goes on, I find more and more people who have gone through something similar, and it always helps to know that we aren’t alone, doesn’t it? While we have had some moments of closure, it’s taken time to see the results of simple building by faith and we continue in this way of building today. Thank you for sharing and connecting here, Lynn.
This was such a blessing to read this morning. Right now I am struggling to just let go. I am desperately clinging to a dream, to what I want, to what I feel I deserve; I am clinging to my husband. I desperately want things to work, for him to love me and adore me. But, he’s angry at me…I’m his frustration. In his anger, I’m the enemy. I find myself exhausted this morning from fighting and wrestling with my mind and trying to squeeze what I feel that I need from him. But, all I get is more frustration. Your story inspires me to fearlessly let go. To let God work. To stop clinging and fighting to hold on but insteas to just let go because the end of this dream might result in the fulfillment of a dream that I have yet to envision. Thank you for inspiring me to have courage.
Stephanie, I am thankful you are here today. I am so sorry for the struggles you are facing right now and for the dreams you want to hold tightly to. I hope you know you are not alone and that you are given a glimpse of God’s hand holding you, despite the things you can’t feel or understand right now. I hope for His tenderness to nudge you towards courage and rest from any striving.
Thank-you for sharing your memories with us from a place I lived but was too young to remember. We can always have hope but as you say God knows what’s in store for us, and His plan is by far better than our own. I no longer have a Dream for myself, but for my family, which I leave in God’s hands.
Have a blessed day all,
Wow, Penny, it’s wild to hear that you lived in Freiburg when you were young. Thank you for sharing that. I can imagine that holding a dream for family can be even harder in some ways, but perhaps it’s also an imperfect picture of the way God holds and works to fulfill dreams for us, his children, with such perfect, purposeful love.
Thank you so much, Tasha. I needed this encouragement so badly today.
Carolyn, I am so glad you were here and that these words met you in some way. I hope you continue to feel God’s provision in this way as you head into every tomorrow. You are not alone. He SEES you and his eyes are filled with delight.
Loved reading your story and how it resonates with mine…death of a dream…and realizing…what you too? I thought I was only one ….thank you for sharing your heart …expressing my heart with your words
Thank you for letting me know that it resonated with you, Ruthie. That encourages me so much.
Melissa Baldwin says
So beautifully written. I am a lover of words and this was a deep soul quenching read for both mind and spirit. I love the moments when something good and true is shared and then (BONUS) it is also exquisitely crafted. Thank you.
Thanks so much for those words, Melissa. That means a lot to me!
Tasha, this message, if not for anyone else, was written for me. I could feel the tears well in my eyes as I read of the death of a dream, disappointments and even more so, a dream deferred. My husband (a pastor) and I excitely married knowing God had a ministry in mind for us. Quickly learning, exactly one year after our wedding, the ministry would mean leaving the pulpit. On the date of our 1st wedding anniversary, we were handed the keys to our new baby, our restaurant. Excited at first, the long days and long nights quickly brought me to the reality that we were not going to immediately re-open the church. To this end, I struggled to understand how God would have my husband leave the pulpit to open a restaurant. It was to prepare him, me, us for a greater ministry – here, I was learning that people can be rude, selfish, greedy, prideful and uncouth (in so many ways!). They want what they want! After months of frustrations and being on our feet for 12-16 hours a day, I began questioning and challenging my husband (did he really hear from the Lord – I was so wrong, I know). I had really had enough! I cried out to the Lord yet once again. This time, he gently reminded me that I too was once upon a time just like ‘those’ people. He told me that he came to a less than perfect place to save a less than perfect people – he came to save me. I am obliged to do the same. Needless to say, I have been pretty content every since. I am amazed at how many people come in asking for prayer or ‘just needed someone to talk to.’ The saints of God come in on Sun afternoons to share the word I’d the Lord they received for the day. Others share how much they’ve enjoyed our playlist (the only restaurant they know of that plays Christian music). Some days are long but I am so blessed in knowing that we are exactly where God would have us to be!
Thank you once again for the reminder that God has a path in mind!
‘Behind the veil of silent seasons, loss, drudgery, and dreams come undone, know that you are deeply loved and delighted in. God is at work. He is building new things in you and for you and these days of wrestling, each one placed one after another like cobblestone, will serve to build a beautiful path forward. ‘
Tammy, thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing part of your own story. I can imagine how difficult some of the days and seasons have been throughout it, but it’s clear that you have a beautiful ministry of feeding people food and love.
Nadine S says
Your story hits me right on the nail. I am presently passing through this dry, confusing and lonely wilderness. I feel like
our ministry died and that God decided to take us out of the game. So, needless to say, it is hard. Your story today gave me a little hope. I still don’t know how God would go about resurrecting us (my husband and I) but I have to believe that resurrection is a specialty of His. Thank you for writing this story.
Nadine, thank you so much for being here and for your words. I am glad for the way our stories can connect in some small way and for the evidence of your hope in the midst of the unseen. You are not alone, no matter how lonely these kinds of days and seasons can be.
Thank you for your story and opening a door for sharing on this topic. Whether we serve in ministry for weeks, months, or years, when that season ends, there is mourning for that loss of purpose and clear calling. Somehow, we humans feel that God has taken His hand off our lives, or is farther away (like we forgot to pack Him before we left) when we return to our home culture where we understand how everything works and don’t have to walk in faith for basic needs to be met.
It’s been seven years since I left full-time mission work, and just this summer He has opened a door for me to return to my country of service to host short term mission teams. The cities have grown, roads have changed, and people have aged, but He is constant, and it is still the place I am called to love, to encourage our national leaders, and support the local churches as they share the gospel and make disciples.
He continues to show himself faithful and capable of redeeming what we believe is lost. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
Thanks for your words and for sharing, Heather. The transition can be quite a challenge to walk through and it helps so much to know that it can be this way for so many of us. I am so glad that God has opened new doors and merged what was and what is for you. He loves us so much.
Marva | SunSparkleShine says
Tasha, your beautifully crafted words drew me back to my own sense of loss. Yet, here I am reminded that God’s dreams for me are still alive and well, especially when I don’t feel that way. Thank you!
Marva, thank you so much. I am so happy that God used these words to remind you of His dreams for you, no matter how you feel at times. I hope you know just how loved you are, especially on the days when it’s hard to remember or see the good at work.
What a touching testimony, Tasha. Thank you for sharing. ♥
Thank you, Brenda.
April Knapp says
“the death of my dream was not the death of God’s dreams for me.” so beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes.
Thanks so much, April!
Lois Martin says
I too have felt the searing loss of a dream in ministry. More than once. It is so encouraging to know that when our dreams die, God doesn’t. He is the God of making all things new. My husband and I have often talked about being on the back side of the desert waiting. As I read your post a thought occurred to me. Only I feel like it is the back side of the desert, God doesn’t. He has us right where he wants us to be. We are in his hand, and even when I don’t see his working, he is. In places where we may feel we are not in ministry he still uses me to minister. But only if I am focusing on him, others and how to show Him to them. As he weaves this tapestry of our lives it seems a blur and confusing, but only to us as we cannot see the entire picture. It is a relief to know he is the master weaver, making something beautiful out of my life. I am so glad to know that he never leaves me or forsakes me.
Lois, thank you for sharing a bit of your own story and for the encouragement. I am so glad to know He never leaves us as well.
Becky Keife says
Tasha, what a joy to read your first (in)courage post! Thank you for taking us on that cobblestone journey with you. I’m just soaking up the beauty of your words tonight and giving thanks to God for always holding our dreams — especially the ones we have even yet to know or dream — in His loving, trustworthy arms.
Thanks, Becky! It’s such a joy to be here and I am so grateful for it. I often picture the way that God holds our hearts ever so tenderly, and along with that, all that’s within them.
Rebecca Jones says
He will make our paths straight even cobblestone.
Amen to that, Rebecca. Thank you.