When Dreams Die

After spending all of my final year of college ‘expecting’ to be offered a job with the company that interviewed me four times, it wasn’t offered. Easter weekend I got a call, “I’m so sorry to do this Jessie, but after speaking with the CEO, he has decided to hire someone with 5-7 years of experience.” I was graduating in one month.

I freaked, but then put on my big-girl pants and realized that it just meant there was something better. Surely it would just take a few good cover letters and references and I’d be gainfully employed in no time. God thought not. Okay – I really can’t argue with that. But I wanted to. And I did. And I fought it.

My earthly, tainted view of reality and the job search led me to believe that it would take no longer than four months. I cannot tell you where that magic number came from but it was stained to my mind like red wine on a white shirt. After just two months of searching and writing and sometimes begging employers, I was defeated. I had dreamed of graduating and moving to the next phase of life so gracefully and adult-like. A new apartment, a puppy (this was a new development in my personality), matching dishes and a crock pot, a fancy bedspread with coordinating throw pillows, and a comma in the bank account.

That was the dream. But I had allowed myself to believe that it would become a reality on my timeline. I certainly counted those chickens before they hatched. The reality was that I moved home, took on a part-time job (that I LOVED and am still very grateful for), spent most of my free time looking for jobs and rewriting cover letters and adjusting my resume and thinking of fancy ways to express that I liked to talk and owned three suits.

Evidently, that wasn’t enough to impress those reading hundreds of applications a day. My dream was fading, my hope was dimming, and it was as if my faith was inflated into a big balloon that might pop if someone told me “it would be okay” or if I got one more email that opened with, “Though we were impressed by your qualifications, we have decided to continue with other candidates.”

The Lord hooked my heart in a new way in July. I spent a week at a wonderful camp in Pennsylvania. My childhood best friend had asked me if I was interested in working with her that week because they were in need of more female counselors. Since I was working part-time and had the most amazing boss, I was able to take off work last minute for a whole week.

That camp is where my heart was hooked in a different way. I had suppressed all my dreams, wondering if maybe I had just chosen the wrong career path. Maybe I should I have done something with more job security: education, finance, medicine. Obviously I would have flailed in those careers because that is not the way the Lord wired me.

All of the sudden I was in this place where no one knew that I had been job searching or that I was feeling like I was at the end of my rope. No one asked me how I liked living at home, or how the hunt was going, or if I’d had anymore interviews with XYZ company. They just asked me about my life. It was so refreshing.

I was supposed to be ministering to my campers, but really, the Lord was doing a big work in me. It was so simple, He was just reminding me of his Love, His knowledge of my dreams, His calling for me.

Without even knowing it, it was just what I needed. I came home with an overflowing cup of joy and faith.

I felt re-energized to keep looking for a job in the industry I knew I loved. I didn’t need to settle for nannying or retail, two things I knew I wouldn’t be happy doing full-time but had started to look into. He reminded me that it was okay to wait. Waiting for His best – like many things in life – can be difficult and tiresome but so worth it.

Though I was feeling renewed and refreshed, it didn’t mean that rejections became less discouraging. Still, it seemed like no one was interested in what I had to offer.

I knew the Truth, that all things were working together for good (Romans 8:28, paraphrased). 

But even so, I spent many days discouraged.

Lord, what will it take? What else can I do? How long can I keep crying out? If this is how my career is starting, what does it say about my future? Am I a failure? Have I been praying over the wrong dream all along? Were the past four years a waste of time and money?

In retrospect, it’s all very dramatic, I know. But when you’re in the thick of that, of the wondering and hoping, it’s all you can think about. I know I still have friends who are in this season now, and I know that there’s nothing anyone can say to you to make you feel better except, “Here, I have a job for you!”

That’s all I wanted to hear. And then one day someone said that to me.

After applying for nearly 100 jobs, the one I didn’t apply for is the one the Lord placed in my lap. Everything makes sense when you look backwards. After a passing comment to a friend that I’d gladly take her position when she moved, she followed through a month later.

I had forgotten that I even said it. But she’s a woman of her word, and when she said she’d keep me in mind, she did.

I got at text from her, “Hey! I’m not sure if you were serious about wanting my job, but I’d love for you to come shadow me sometime.”

I went at the end of that week not expecting anything to happen. I was wearing jeans. Everyone knows that even if you’re interviewing at a casual office, you don’t wear jeans.

That’s my point – I didn’t realize it was an interview or a job offer. After spending an hour driving around and seeing what she did day-to-day she said, “I’ve already talked to my boss and we’ve decided that you can have this job if you’d like it. I’m leaving in a month.”

A new dream welled up within me. The Lord was whispering, “I told you.”

I found myself in an industry that my family had encouraged me to look into before, but I had swept it under the rug thinking, “that’s your thing, I’m not really into it.” Turns out, I’m really into it. That’s the new dream.

He hadn’t abandoned me. He hadn’t forgotten about me while he took care of all the other problems in the world. My dream was important to Him. He saw my frustrations and my depression and my anger and my questioning and He said, “I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”

So I waited on Him, and He did not fail.

And he won’t fail you. Because He knows the dreams He placed inside of you, and He hasn’t forgotten about them.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” was my favorite quote in college was. It still is. It’s the truth. To the core, we lose our joy when we compare ourselves. And I compare myself to others in more than one way – in careers, in relationships, in lifestyles, in dreams.

How silly is that? That I would compare my dreams to someone else’s. That doesn’t even make sense. But I do it, and I’m afraid I’m not alone.

God has placed a dream in me, and He’s placed one (or more, hopefully) in you. And it’s different that mine. And that’s amazing. Because when we have different dreams, we get to live in a world where things are accomplished and God is glorified most when we live out the calling He’s placed on you and me.

If your dream has died, today I pray that you will ask Lord to awaken it – to breathe life into it again. That He would take you back to the place you were when you first realized that dream. And don’t lose hope this time. It’s okay to cry and be frustrated that your dream hasn’t turned into a reality, because if it’s a dream that will ultimately Glorify God, it will.

And when it does, it might not always feel like a dream. So when your dream is fulfilled and then three months in it doesn’t feel like a dream, ask Him to remind you what it felt like the moment that dream was fulfilled. Because I believe there is a great sense of peace when He fulfills a dream that He placed inside of you.

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:30, MSG

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Graphic: @bethel

fear v. Life

fear shatters and crumbles and crushes and devourers. fear takes hold of hopes and dreams and smashes them so you don’t even remember they were there in the first place. but Life swoops in and rekindles the fire of hopes and dreams once lost and forgotten about. fear isn’t mysterious because we give into it all the time. it’s like an old friend. maybe an old friend you’d like to never see again, but for some reason they just keep reappearing. let me tell you, this friend keeps reappearing because you are letting it. but Life is mysterious because we’re usually too afraid to ask Life for help. but Life wants to help. why reject the help when we know we need it and it’s free? we reject it because we don’t know how to live separate from fear. we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t hold onto fear. isn’t that funny? we might as well release control of our lives to Life because honestly, what have we got to lose? if it’s already scary, can it really get that much scarier?

but what if it could get better? happier? more exciting? more hopeful? 

“A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, The Message)

what if your life could be more than you ever dreamed of…

what is now

i’ve been contemplating today. ooooh i’ve got thoughts cooking. but mostly i’m thinking, what is my life right now? i’m in college. i have two more years of plans and that’s it. what’s next? but more importantly,

what is now? 

what are the things that i’m supposed to be learning today? what is it that is going to take four years (other than math and geology and PR and accounting) for the Lord to teach me? how much longer than four years will it take? i mean truly, 

what is now? 

i am happy with the life i live. i have no complaints. i have regrets, but i’ve learned from them. for the most part, i’m enjoying the lessons i’m learning. but there’s always the thoughts in the back of my head, “what is next and what does the future look like? can’t i just have a timeline of my life so i’ll know?” wouldn’t that be nice? but i should be asking,

what is now?

am i open to the hard and scary lessons that the Lord is teaching me? i want to soak up these last two years of my predictable life. most people tell me that the college years are the best years of your life, and i want to really live in that. i want to be spontaneous, i want to take risks, i want to stay up late, i want to be successful with school but not consumed by it. i want to make friendships that make me laugh and challenge me. i want to see something new each day. i want to talk to people i’ve never spoken to before. i want to be in the now. sometimes i have a hard time finding the answer to

what is now? 

but i realize, that now is happening. when i wonder, i just look around. now is that i’m studying for a math exam, but i’m prepping for homecoming later and getting dinner with a friend after that. now is the everyday. now is that each day i realize that i’m so broken, but so whole when i find myself in Him. now is that i’m sinful but caught up in so much grace that my sin is not even remembered by my Father. 

thank you, Jesus that you have given me now. there has to be a now for there to be a future.