Follow Your Dreams
This is the main theme of society today. Note the word smack in the middle of this thought: YOU. Your dreams. Doing what YOU want to do.
So what if I find myself on a path that suddenly curves and takes me away from MY dream. What if takes me totally away from where I want to go. Do I then have the right to turn around and take a different way?
Definitely – if I believe the thinking of our day. Sometimes – if I can change course and follow my dream without messing up others’ lives or cheating them.
A young Canadian backpacking tourist was sleeping in his tent in a Dutch campground one morning when he heard someone rustling through his stuff. In the dim light he saw someone grab his wallet, so he jumped up and chased the thief down. When the tourist had about caught up to the thief, the fellow whirled and threw the tourist’s wallet back in his face, complaining angrily, “I have to make a living, too, you know.”
Excuse me, but your dream of financial success is stepping on my pocketbook.
No – if pursuing my dream means I have to break commitments or solemn vows I once made. No – if I believe in commitment, integrity, and generally trying to make the best of things. And sometimes, if I’ve made a commitment that I can’t – for moral or financial reasons – back out of, I have to love what I do instead of doing what I love.
According to the psalmist of old, David the shepherd boy, “ LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” Psalm 15:1-4
To paraphrase the last two sentences: “Someone who condemns evil deeds, but honours those who fear God. Someone who commits himself to something – makes a promise or vow to carry something out – and then does it even when he realizes it’s going to cost him more than he bargained for.”
Years ago a man in Belgium wanted to buy a house from an elderly widow. He made her a deal: he promised she could live in it and he’d pay for it in installments for as long as she lived, then it would be his. So he paid and paid, according to their legal commitment – and she lived and lived. He kept on paying until the day he himself died. The widow survived him by some years.
Some commitments are permanent because it’s just not possible to back out. An elderly friend of mine shared with me something her grandmother told her one day. “They call us pioneers,” the grandmother had said. “They talk of how brave we were. Brave nothing! When our parents got here, they took one look at the place and would have headed straight back to Scotland – but we couldn’t. We’d spent every penny we had getting here.” Like it or not, they had to stay and struggle to survive.
For them the money did come, too, eventually. We are the beneficiaries of their efforts to love what they did – or at least stick it out and make this country liveable. We’re beneficiaries of those folks in the “Dirty Thirties” who struggled and survived. Now we are facing hard times of our own – and who knows how much harder times will get. Are we committed enough to leave our children a good example of perseverance?
My friend and fellow writer Linda Wegner was a pastor’s wife one day, then suddenly – due to her husband’s sudden illness – she found herself his 24-hour caregiver and the sole breadwinner in their family. She put her shoulder to the wheel and turned her writing talent into a business: Words of Worth. Lately she’s written a book about her experience of changing careers in midlife. She’s committed to her marriage vows and to staying afloat financially.
Some folks would have walked away. We knew a young mother in Ontario; when she developed MS her husband “walked away” emotionally. She went into a self-care apartment and he continued living in their home with their two children – and another woman. His wife’s illness wasn’t part of his dream and the commitment to “love, honor, and cherish until death do you part” didn’t have enough weight in his mind to hold him.
Now, what about if HE suddenly finds himself the victim of illness or accident? How can a man live a secure and happy life, knowing he broke a sacred vow? Knowing that what he has done may come back on his own head one day? This puts an uneasiness deep in the soul.
I know of another case where parents had a little “caboose”; their last child was born when the older ones were almost teens. And this baby was mongoloid. When the father found out, he said, “No way are we keeping him,” so they handed the baby over to Social Services, much to the mother’s grief. A defective child wasn’t part of his dream. (Thankfully the dad did change his mind in time.)
Sometimes as we follow our dream the road bends somewhere beyond the horizon and takes us where we don’t want to go. But we’ve committed ourselves to following this road; to leave it would take a serious violation of our integrity. If we stick with it, it will cost us more than we ever planned to pay; if we walk away we’ll live with the guilt and regret of that abandonment. What a choice!
Life happens. Curve balls knock us flat sometimes. But God says He’ll help us if we honour the commitments we’ve made. Even if it costs us today’s dreams, He promises that new dreams – better dreams – will bring their own reward in the future.
The money may not follow, but the blessing will.