A few weeks back I attended a women's conference called Awake My Soul. The theme song was Chris Tomlin's song of the same name, for which I got roped into performing a dance with flags not once but several times over the course of the weekend. The song is based on a portion of scripture in Ezekiel describing the valley of dry bones and how they come to life as the prophet prophesies.
Both key-note speakers chose to speak about dreams from God and encouraged us to dream big dreams for the impact of our lives. One speaker spoke about David's mighty men and their exploits, tying it into the theme rather ingenuously, although at the time I resisted her interpretation. At one point in the conference we were supposed to write down a dream. I sat there and struggled to write anything down at all. I ended up writing rather lamely "to find a dream". I felt like it had to be something huge, something inspirational, something sensational. Just writing "I want to get married and have a family" didn't seem to cut it. Besides did I really really want to do that? At the time I wasn't sure, but with some recent bad news I received, I am even more certain marrying might not be the wisest thing, especially if I think it will be my life's salvation.
More than ever, I feel limited and constrained in my visioning for the future. I feel limited by my mental illness. Even though I successfully completed university and later succeeded in becoming a nurse, I don't feel secure or very hopeful about my future. I know in times of stress and pressure I will always be vulnerable. I know I will have to take medication likely for the rest of my life. A friend of mine who struggles with her mental health recently had her marriage fail. I have realized that sometimes it is harder on the family and spouse of the person who is ill than on the person themselves.
My pastor recently said something about people being medicated, but not being healed. I was very much offended, as I had for many years sought a healing that would result in not being on medication anymore, but I have come to the conclusion that I need medication to stay well enough to avoid a trip of the psych ward. If God was going to heal me in that way, he has had many years in which to accomplish it. I have given up on that dream sadly.
When you need to be on medication such as I am on, being pregnant is not something that just happens sometime after you get married. It has to be carefully planned with health professionals, if it happens at all. Then too marriage and raising children are both stressful and there are no guarantees, one that you will remain well and two that you will be a good wife and mother.
I was hoping God would make me some guarantees. At the end of the conference there was going to be ministry time and I hoped that someone with prophetic vision would speak into my life and make the dry bones live. Instead we were to pray for each other and I ended up praying with two young teens and a woman I didn't know. After awkwardly participating in praying for the two teens, I explained I didn't have a dream, and the woman asked if I had had any dreams when I was a child. I mentioned when I was five I wanted to be either a singer or a missionary, but that I couldn't sing very well, I had just really enjoyed it. The woman asked me where I had wanted to go as a missionary and I said to Africa. Eventually she asked me if I had a husband or any children, and when I said I had none she asked me why I wasn't in Africa, what was stopping me. Tears came to my eyes, but I didn't explain the limitations of a mental illness or about how it really wasn't my dream any more. She said she felt I had a big call on my life.
When I came home from the conference the second day, I felt saddened by the fact I hadn't been able to write any dream down. But after speaking with another person who had attended the conference and hadn't written a dream down either, I realized that not every one needs some big, grand dream. Sometimes you need to be behind the scenes supporting others' dreams. And sometimes you just need to be faithful in your small sphere of influence, serving others.
This is the most depressing post I have written in awhile. I wish there were some way to turn it around into the most uplifting post. But I am hurting about some dreams I have already let go of, and some other dreams that I might have to give up on. I am wanting some guarantees. Yeah I would like some grand dream that would add meaning to my life, but I am no longer a dreamer. That part of me is as dead as those dry bones in the valley.