I have a lot of dreams: dreams for my physical health, dreams for my future, dreams for my children, etc. One thing I have never lacked is a set of ideas about how my life should be.
The problem is that my life rarely turns out that way. In my 20’s, I married a man with dreams of being stay-at-home mom with happy little children and a husband who would come home from work and spend time enjoying our company. I chose a spouse in naivety, and after 6 1/2 years became a single mother with three small children to raise and no credentials to secure a stable job with livable wages. I dream of being a songwriter, but continually find myself at the end of the day having put out the fires on my todo list (which is still just as long as when I started) and not one note recorded on paper or in a computer app. I waited roughly eight years to marry my soul mate, and could only do so after my children all chose their father over me.
If I focused on all of the things that I have wished for and either lost or never received in the first place, I could be a very unhappy woman! I could feel cheated that I had to spend so much time away from home and children working when all I wanted to home school and nurture my kids. I could rant about how cheated I’ve been to spend most of my life alone. I am very gifted when it comes to finding all the negatives in my life!
Instead, I am a living, breathing testament to the fact that God has given us life, and life is GOOD.
Here is what has really happened as I have lived my journey and done my best to follow the path my Savior lays out for me:
- I grew strong in the furnace of my trials. Having to fight back against attacks from the one person I had given myself most fully to taught me to be strong. I learned that there really is fire in my belly, and that I can stand and fight for the things that are right for my family and for myself. I also learned that there is no shame in speaking up against gross inequities.
- I learned to repent. Especially in the early days after leaving my husband, I lived in total fear. My choices were mostly reactionary, and I experienced a constant sense of being trapped with no resources to lean on should anything go wrong. My kids suffered because of my mental state. I made bad choices. Even so, I was never left alone. My Heavenly Father was always watching over me, and He sent comfort and aid at every point that I was willing to receive it. I have spent many hours repenting for my lack of faith and for the resulting errors that I made, and I have the peace of knowing that God has forgiven me — and that, through His grace, He will make up the difference in the lives of those who suffered for my faults. My Savior, through His Atonement, set me free.
- I learned to be patient. It is only in the past couple of years that I have finally compiled enough life experiences to know that my Heavenly Father and my Savior are looking out for my good, as well as the good of everyone else. My desires are blinded by my limited ability to see the true big picture. If I will wait for the Lord to do His will on His time, everything turns out all right.
- I learned that God keeps His promises. Very early in our dating relationship, my (current) husband disclosed some things about himself that could have been deal breakers. I was dating him because I liked him and liked who I saw that he was, so I took these things to God in prayer. I remember the answer so clearly: I could walk away if I chose, and it would never be held against me. Or, I could choose to stay and trust that everything would be o.k. I chose to stay, and had many long, tearful prayers over the course of eight years about why things weren’t o.k. I never got an answer to the why, but that promise kept me going. Now, in hindsight, I can see how much stronger our relationship is because of the commitments we learned to keep and the struggles we endured together. Had we married on my time, we wouldn’t have truly been ready and the path would have been a lot more difficult.
- I have been blessed to influence and be influenced by many wonderful people who would not have come into my life any other way. As a teacher, I touch children everyday. Even though music isn’t considered an “important” subject, I get to show children the joy of passion and the freedom of creativity. I have worked with hundreds of colleagues over the years, and they have enriched my life. I hope I have been able to do the same for them. I would have missed all of these wonderful people and experiences if I had gotten what I dreamed of getting.
Even now, I have have unfulfilled dreams. I’m not writing much music, and I am still praying diligently for the day that I again have a close, loving relationship with each of my children. It would even be nice to have a little more disposable income. None of that bothers me like it used to.
I know that the Biblical promise of all things working together for my good if I love God is true and sure — and that’s all I really need right now.