Speak to Me, Lord
When Dreams Take Up Residence
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
It all started with a mattress. And it’s been an ongoing cycle ever since.
After weeks of restless sleep, I began to wonder if there wasn’t more to my lack of Z’s than a loose headboard, too much caffeine late at night, too little exercise, and too much stress. With so many variables, it was hard to decipher what exactly was the problem.
So one day, after pulling the sheets off my bed for the umpteenth time, I decided to really study my mattress. That’s when I saw a distinct dip in the middle of my bed.
How had this happened? I mean, this wasn’t an old mattress by any means. Then I thought back to a scene a couple of years ago, not too long after I had moved into my rented place, when I opened the door to my bedroom to find my oldest niece and nephew in mid launch high in the air on my freshly made-up bed. They were on a visit to see their auntie and they were having so much fun jumping on my bed, I halfway didn’t want to scold them. However, being the somewhat miffed and responsible adult, I admit I did.
Perhaps the sag originated from that event. All I know is when I turn on that mattress, I can sometimes hear and feel the bedsprings tweak, and when my back is flat against that saggy spot, it’s noticeable and sometimes annoying.
Since the dipping mattress wasn’t going to get any better, I started pricing mattresses online. That seemed less intimidating than visiting a mattress outlet filled with eager sales associates. I was initially discouraged at the price for a decent mattress (really no shock since this was the first time I ever priced one), so I switched to looking at bedroom suites online. That turned into a couple of weekends eyeing bedroom sets at the local furniture stores on the “just looking” premise. From there it went to looking into living room furniture, office furniture, more kitchen gear, and new sheets and towels. I would need a house to fit all this new stuff that was taking up residence in my head!
It wasn’t about a mattress anymore. Maybe it never truly was about the mattress.
It was about being uncomfortable in my life as I knew it and wanting to expand my dream, even though I didn’t exactly know how to do that. It was about having a place of my own. It was about seeing myself in a new light. It was about wanting to invite folks over and be this queen bee of hospitality. It was the domestic goddess all over again.
Oh boy. I had to take this sitting down. This desire for stability, for a piece of real estate was inconveniently popping up right in the middle of my messy single life. I wasn’t prepared for this.
I had thought that I had sufficiently squelched that desire, just as I had thought I had squelched my desire for a future husband and family. I began sweeping my dreams under the rug years ago when life got disappointing and things didn’t change the way I thought they should have or in the time I thought they should have changed. I dreaded my high school and college reunions because from the outside it probably looked like I kept re-living Bill Murray’s Ground Hog Day: same old, same old. So I had learned to think smaller and tell myself that those dreams are fine for others, but for me, they would just have to wait indefinitely. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to have them. Those dreams always seemed to hinge on something else I didn’t have. It was simply moot. End of discussion. Besides, statistics showed that tons of people were foreclosing on homes and in unhappy relationships, so why think about such things?
Despite my best efforts, all those dreams were now springing back to life without an invitation!
Redefining the Vision... and Myself
I am somewhere stuck between the fancy-free “pizza late at night” college student with multiple options on the weekend and the “let’s-stay-in” home-owning happily married couple. Living the “fun” and unattached life can be good, but perhaps I needed to be a bit more “serious” and pro-active about my priorities.
I can’t live like a grad student forever, right? Some days I truly know that; some days I am trying to convince myself. Finding balance in this teeter-totter of a mini midlife crisis I haven’t welcomed has been interesting.
I know I trumpet a lot about braving the world as an independent woman and not living the status quo life – granted, I haven’t exactly lived a status quo life if one were to go by the typical American dream of a two-car garage, a spouse, 2.5 kids, and a pet. I don’t think I have really ever fit the status quo, to be honest. OK, so maybe it isn’t status quo I need exactly, but sometimes normalcy and stability is a good thing.
I so often connote “mature” with “boring.” Just like those people who say you should act and dress your age. I don’t completely agree with that because to me it sounds so snobby. I want to say to them, why act “my age” when everyone else who is my age and is telling me to act my age is a big yawn or a stick in the mud? Why be like them? Why not act how you feel? And that works to my advantage in many realms in life. But lately, it has worked against me in those areas of life that I don’t particularly enjoy thinking about, like planning and filing and budgeting and scheduling everything to death. It makes me want to gasp for air.
I envision my future, picturing nights sitting at home playing Scrabble and talking about poopy diapers and the falling stock market, and I want to run far away. That life doesn’t appeal to me.
No, “mature” is the wrong word. “Mature” is what you call a senior adult. (No offense to seniors; I am just not one yet!) Perhaps “pro-active” is what I need. Pro-active makes me think grabbing the bull by the horns, getting on my soap box. It sounds like a challenge. It’s full of drama and it makes me feel I could actually win the game. That appeals to me.
And, then, I am sure there is something to be said for expanding my definition of myself. Instead of this replacement theology that has an either/or stance on what my life will be like (exciting and free vs. boring and steady), perhaps there is a blending needed. It’s like the old argument many adults have about becoming a Christian – why would I want to do that? Then God will surely make me a missionary to Africa! I guess I have been applying that ridiculous cause-effect “logic” to my situation. No wonder I can’t put my mind around it!
That is not to say we can “have it all,” as the world would define it. Expanding horizons is a bit different when you look at the Bible.
Not too long ago, I was eating lunch with a married friend of mine and we were discussing the Proverbs 31 woman. Now, that biblical lady was a wife and mother, but she certainly wasn’t bored at home all the time. She wasn’t just a homemaker. She was respected in industry and blessed at home. Throughout her life, this woman was willing to expand her view of herself and her world, what she was capable of, and what God could do in and through her.
It didn’t happen overnight. I daresay that there were seasons in life when she was more caretaker than businesswoman. And perhaps those seasons had long stretches between them. The point that I was trying to make to my good friend that day and the point I was trying to reignite in myself is that there is something to be said for God’s timing.
Going to the Mattress – Again
And that brings me back to the mattress and the discussion I had not too long ago with my very wise roommate, who is likewise unearthing these amazing longings. She put it so well when I was beside myself trying to figure out what to do and what direction to go and feeling completely overwhelmed by endeavors that seemed greater than my abilities.
She calmly reminded me to be excited that God was bringing these deep longings to the forefront because it meant He was getting me ready for the next season. God is graciously preparing me. Those dreams that have been bubbling to the surface might actually be an indication that God wants to move in those areas of my life – areas like a new home, husband, and family. And the fact that these desires are being pinpointed is God’s way of trying to get me in line for His upcoming blessings. God makes us ready for those greater works so we can handle His blessings properly.
Planning for Your God-Directed Transition
That was a new perspective. And it encouraged me not only to keep dreaming, but to plan the dream out a bit and see what God might do. See, sitting around envisioning an expanded life isn’t a bad thing, but that isn’t enough; there is a responsibility we have to make progress toward that vision if God is showing us that’s the way we are to go, especially if it keeps getting confirmed to us in our hearts, in His Word, and through wise counsel from other Christians.
Habakkuk 2:2 talks about writing down the vision, getting that revelation in some visible form. It’s a good idea to do just that to stay committed to those priorities. Proverbs 5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (NLT).
I love what Jesus had to say one Sabbath at the house of a Pharisee. He had been speaking many truths through parables to the group there. And one particular thing He said speaks clearly to me when I think about trying to move toward some vision that is way bigger than me:
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”(Luke 14:28-30, NIV).
God knows we can be overwhelmed creatures, and as long as all these thoughts and desires are swimming around in our head, we can’t map out how it could even be possible to grab hold of that which we seek because we are fretting about everything. But when we see it plainly on paper, when we try estimating the cost (whether that cost is money or time or effort), sometimes the answer becomes more clear. Actually, there is a lot more freedom and peace when we get it down on paper. Fears subside and we can be better directed by the Lord.
What does this mean for me? Well, right now I think it means continuing to dream while relearning how to wisely allocate my finances. This is what I know right now. I can only do now what I see God revealing. As I accomplish that, God will show me more.
That’s why the Bible talks about His Word being a “lamp beneath my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). It’s not like the Bible is a bunch of mega-watt halogen bulbs that will light up a football field. It might be only that 60-watt lantern that only shows me the next 100 yards or so. But that’s OK. It’s a start.
So what about you? Do you have a “mattress issue” that needs to be addressed? What dream and desire keeps flaring up unexpectedly in your heart? Don’t automatically dismiss it. Don’t just tell it to go away.
First, ask the Lord if this is something He is trying to bring to fruition. Maybe it’s time to seek His Word and His face about that longing.
It might be God calling you to reconsider another view. It might be God showing you a bigger vision of your life. It might be God preparing you, even through your discomfort, to embrace new things down the road.
I pray God will honor your deepest God-honoring desires in His timing, with His provision.
More articles by Laura
Laura J. Bagby produces the Health and Finance channels. She writes inspirational, humor, singles, and health articles.
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