“All my dreams, all my plans, Lord I place them in Your hands” – William McDowell, I Give Myself Away
I dragged my spiritually bereft self to church this morning. I’ve been skipping lately, partly because of my work schedule, but also because I’m not sure if it makes sense to keep going through the motions when my heart is so very much not in it.
I am a stubborn type; I so often come to God kicking and screaming, or not at all. And I am so cynical towards the American brand of Christianity that I find myself increasingly out of sorts with as I continue my journey left of center. The Jesus who looks more like a Socialist is foreign to so many Americans who claim Christ, and the people in my church family are no less alienated from this than anyone else in this society.
At any rate, I showed up. Showed up, and the one thing that got through to me, even as I was attempting to distract myself from God’s voice by immersing myself in a game of Solitaire on my phone, was the section of the song quoted above.
When it comes to dreams, I have a hard time imagining that what God wants for me could possibly have any resemblance to the dreams that constantly slip through my fingers. At the same time, though, I often succumb to my own personal faulty theology. If I were to sum up that theology in a few words, I would describe it as this: God likes to mess with me.
(I could pull out a stronger word than “mess with”, but I suppose that would be blasphemous…)
Were You the one who broke my heart
So that I would be strong?
Now I’m still here, I wonder if
You’re stringing me along.
(That’s from 1990 or so…apparently I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time now. )
It’s because I don’t trust that God has my best interests at heart that I am reluctant to hand over my dreams to Him.
My dreams don’t budge.
So if I let go of all of the dreams, how very empty will I be? Any more empty than I am already when I look at how those dreams have passed me by repeatedly, taunted me with the repeated theme of “so close, and yet so far?”
The constant ache of people I love stretched out thousands of miles in either direction.
The daily heartbreak I face at the thought that I might never again call New York City my home.
My therapist tells me that figuring out what I want, what I’m meant to do, is “the work of our forties”. (Really? Shouldn’t I have been able to figure this out before now?)
She tells me that all of my excuses are just that – excuses. That they keep me from doing the work of finding out what’s next. Or (my favorite!) that they keep me from grieving the things that are not going to be.
The fear, as always, is that if I release these dreams from my clenched hands, God will simply take them and discard them, that He will tell me to be content right where I am.
Not really a mommy.
Not really in a job that means something.
Not ever getting to return to the city that makes me feel most alive.
I know that God owes me nothing. I know that He has blessed me in far too many ways to count, and that all of my whining is that of a petulant, spoiled child. Dreams are a luxury of the wealthy, of people who don’t have to struggle every day for survival.
My life is really not so bad.
So if I am going to pray the words of this song, then my prayer will be a simple one. Lord, if I hand these dreams to You, can You erase them from my heart, make me forget I ever had them?
It wouldn’t be so hard to live with the disappointments in my life if I could just stop wanting these things. God, if You made me who I am, if You created me to be this intense and highly passionate person, then surely You can crush that thing in me.
I am willing to let go, to leave all of these dreams in Your hands, but only if You can erase the desire for more from the depths of my soul. And I don’t think that’s possible.
For now, then, I will continue to hold on to the remnants of my dreams, clenching even more tightly as I watch them slip through my fingers like sand.