“Why are you leaving me?” she said. My words failed. She sat limply, staring with overflowing wide eyes and I felt her pain because she is, in fact, me. She’s the dreamer inside of me, but sometimes she gets pigeon-holed into the smallest spot of my inbox, given number 53 when she was the 1st person in line, scheduled for 4:58 on a 5pm closing day. I don’t always focus as I should on the things that matter the most to me, and there I was submitting my college application. She panicked. I panicked.
I’ve recently begun participating in a Soundcloud podcast discussion series called The Great AHA Moment. It’s the brainchild of my friend Jennifer Owens, author of the course, Soul Silence: A Self-Care Course for Steadying Your Life. That girl has enough brainchildren to repopulate the world. Tonight’s discussions were on trust, and our segment on self-trust reminded me of this week’s experience.
I got my Associate of Arts right out of high school. Then I got married and waited a few years before going back to school. I returned to school at the wrong time, in an effort to beat the clock and be ready to have babies by the time I was 25. I chose the wrong degree, because the local college didn’t offer English with a creative writing focus, just English Literature. I wanted to write and sing and speak, just as I do now, but I chose a double major—English Lit and Secondary Education, in order to be portable, to become a schoolteacher who could follow my husband around so that he could be a performer. I believed in his dreams more than my own.
God never wastes anything, so I got a lot out of that time. I lost my marriage, but I discovered a real passion for educational concepts. I met my friend Katherine, who taught me to live outside the box. Up to that point, I’d been a box-filler. I’d been an actress in high school because I could learn the lines and be whatever character people wanted; I’d been a secretary because the real decision-makers gave me dictation and made me feel like I was part of the project; I was a wife who opted to be “portable” instead of self-expressive. From 1st through 12th grade, I’d been a great student because I could learn what was expected and darken the right boxes. My new friend Katherine partnered with me on assignments, and instead of creating a flow-chart we created a board game. Instead of writing boring sentences on our grammar tests, we created stories. She opened the lid on my box and flung my creativity into the sunlight. That passion for education and that creative awakening have led me to the corporate training position I now have and inspired me to apply for Ashford University’s program in Instructional Design.
I lost some things in my college days, and that hurt. I became a total stress-monster and lost my marriage. I also found my new husband and my wings and spent the next 15 years writing poetry and making music.
I dropped out of school as a junior and lost $25 grand that I’m still paying off. Since then, I’ve rebuilt my credit and learned a ton about financial wisdom that I can share with others.
I’ve been given more than I ever lost, but the other night, the little dreamer inside of me sat there broken-hearted, feeling betrayed because I’d committed my spare time for the next year and a half to another school venture. Tears running down my face, I sent an email to my mom and some Godly, praying friends. “I’m terrified,” I said. I don’t let fear stop me from things, but I needed clarity, reassurance that God had really said, “Go.”
I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust my ability to make a decision, because a previous decision had caused me pain. The dreamer side of me pointed out that I don’t trust my dreams enough, because at times I’ve found it easier to support someone else’s dreams and “keep my day job.” She was afraid I might be doing it again. What about our plans?
I am enormously grateful for the wise, praying people who love me. My husband saw my tears and turned off the TV to listen—he’s the best gift I gained back in those days of loss. He listens to me calmly, always accepts me, and encourages me to shine. Throughout the next morning, my mom and friends emailed and texted prayers, purposeful questions and wisdom. A coworker prayed for me. We talked about how our jobs are a ministry rather than a detour. She has the degree I’m aiming for, and she reminded me how much fun I’m going to have. I talked to God, and I felt Him say, “Why don’t you just look at the courses you’ll be taking?” This is truly the first degree that’s made me excited enough to go back to school. I looked at the course list and got a thrill all over again.
I tapped my inner dreamer and we took a walk.
I’m not leaving you. I’m not choosing work over dreams. Remember that staycation we took last month, where we realized that if we were independently wealthy we’d be doing a lot of what we’re already doing at work—writing and creating fun ways to equip others to provide for themselves and help people? You know those other things we want to write and teach—listening to God and walking in financial and relational wisdom? God knows the plans He has for us, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope Jeremiah 29:11. Hon (I call myself hon, you can call me nutty but you’re still reading ;)) Honey, God’s plans aren’t being derailed. These dreams aren’t being derailed. We’re going to be equipped, moving from a skateboard to a Lotus through this process, and I will never stop writing and singing.
I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago. I can trust me to make good decisions. I have learned about balance, about nurturing my creativity and getting rest, especially when I’m working long hours. I’ve learned the importance of making time for people and the necessity of managing my boundaries. I’m more quickly aware when I get overloaded, and my husband is a keen observer who gently gets me back on track.
I woke this morning smiling. When I finish this degree, I’ll be 45. If I live to be 90 as planned, all the prep work will be done and I’ll have 45 more years to live my dreams! I laugh when I think how time seemed to be running out when I was 23.
If you’d like to check out our AHA Moment series, click here.