Is it time to bury the dream?

(This might be an email to earmark and tuck away for the future, as this isn’t for everyone. Some of you are in the dream-forming years … as you need to be.)

Is it time to bury the dream? Ouch.

Nearly every set of eyes reading this sentence is connected to a heart laboring (in life and prayer and time and resources and energy) for something … important. In our twenties, we dreamed about building a connected and vibrant family, homes, grand ministry endeavors —changing the world for God, travel, new cars, and exciting career opportunities. In our thirties, forties, and beyond, our dreams gain greater traction in our reality — we dream about illness being healed, broken relationships mending, generational patterns of substance abuse ending, spouses returning to the Lord, and wayward children coming home.

Who wants to read an email that suggests we push those dreams six feet deep?

(But you’re still here.)

We scroll Instagram, Twitter, and even the chapter headers of books and podcast titles for inspirational soundbites to give us a little more fuel to keep going, keep dreaming, and keep praying for that one thing. We orbit around this dream with our life.

I have a few of these dreams, some more conscious than others. If I shared them with you, you’d applaud my pursuit — laying down my money, time, and energy for these one-day-maybe dreams. You’d understand the nights I wrestle into sleep with a knot in my stomach and wake to nausea as I remember the fight of my life. You’d identify with a woman selling all she has and giving all she is for these pursuits. You’d encourage my commitment to pray for the shift, the change for which my life is fighting.

Because we’re dreamers, we were made with an eye for heaven — a mind set upon what’s better, what’s much better, than what a Thursday at two o’clock in the afternoon of a waiting season can present.

But, as a friend asked me last month — a question not to be answered but to let niggle in my mind — I will ask you: “what if failure is part of God’s design?”

At thirty, I stood outside a storefront window, watching the life I wanted from the other side of the glass. Friend after friend after friend carrying their babies inside them, then in their arms, then letting them toddle at their feet. Time ticked on for them while it stood still for me and my dreams. And, of course, the most natural thing was to fight for what I didn’t have — to fight in the form of doctor visits, natural health remedies, and … prayer. Aren’t dreams for the chasing?

Fifteen years later, I find another storefront window of which I’m on the other side — dreaming, imagining, watching others live what I want — and I’m awakening to the reality that some dreams aren’t meant to be chased but instead buried.

Fifteen years later, with a house full of children and, thus, a heart full of different dreams, I’m finding the narrative of scripture to be one where some dreams die and … yet their holders survive. Rather, it is a narrative in which dreams do die, and yet the people who hold them slowly (ever-so-slowly) are “recalled to life,” to use Dickens’ words.

Being known, studied and seen, and cherished — the most intimate sense of forever-and-always-never-broken belonging — has its inception at the cross. Not His, but ours.

We know this. You know this. You read these verses when you decided to start following God. Still, whether it was because of our youthful idealism or all the sound bites between then and now that boast of a bigger and better life, we forget that the pathway to the most joyous, expansive, and elaborate living starts at a gravesite.

And today, I’m proposing that it might be at the gravesite of one of your dreams that you find the thing you want (even more than the fruition of that dream).

You and I wouldn’t be the first to be invited to lay down the very thing we were confident would give us life, that beautiful, God-handed-to-us dream. Abraham walked Mount Moriah with a knife in his hand and the child of his dreams beside him at the request of God. Mary watched the son of her youth — the boy who broke open her womb and made her a mother — die a gruesome death. Paul lost the respect of his pedigree, the one he’d built his life pursuing.

And yet each of those stories has elements of the life I want and the life you want.

Some of us spend years or even decades fighting for the dream that is best placed in our story at a gravesite — but we’ll never know that (we’ll never know how powerful that burial might be for the rest of our lives) until we consider that maybe, as my friend said, “failure is a part of God’s design.” And some of us are bone-tired from keeping a dream alive, when we might find the relief we’ve searched for in all the other places by finally putting it to rest.

Sometimes our most noble-seeming pursuits — our persistent prayers — are really just masking that we’re scared out of our minds to let a dream die because we can’t imagine ourselves or our lives without it.

But He can.

Imagine with me today and ask yourself this question:

Might the thing I’ve refused to relinquish, even in the name of faith and hope, best be laid six feet under? Might there be another dream on the other side of this one … after this burial?

You and I both gasp: letting go of this dream might seem counter to all you have let yourself know. It sure does for me.

The paradox of faith: the death of what we cannot imagine losing and are spending our sleeping and waking hours to keep alive has the power to unlock the life we so desperately want.

{For more like this, I write a bit more candidly and a lot more frequently in my private writing space SOAR. I love the people over there – I suspect you might, too.}

Until next month,