A few weeks ago, I got to spend a good chunk of time in my home state of California. I spent the first part of my trip in the Sacramento area, hosting VBS at the church I used to work at and running around trying to see friends and family in any spare time I had. By the time I found myself down in the Bay Area a week later, I was exhausted and overwhelmed, so when my spiritual family asked me how my week went and how everything was going at home, I just started crying. I shared about how awesome - albeit tiring - the week had been, but then I opened up about Nashville... and that was where things got a little ugly. The truth is that things just have not been easy these last few months. Between work and side hustles and tough friendships and life changes and disconnect from God, I was burning out and experiencing deep feelings of isolation (still working through this).
See, the first few years Nashville were so much fun: a new place with new people and new things to see and do and experience. But now, coming up on 3 years of calling this city home, it's not so new anymore, and lately life has just been tough (that's adulting though, right?). Don't get me wrong; living here has taught me so much. I've learned a lot about myself and my Father and how to do community; I've grown up, had to really trust God, and gotten so much closer with Holy Spirit; and I've gotten to explore so many new places and have ventured out of my comfort zone over and over again. Much of it has been quite wonderful, but a lot of it has also been really hard (for many different reasons), and the last few months have been especially tough as restlessness has plagued my spirit. But in that moment, crying ugly tears on the couch, it took these treasured friends to affirm what I already felt was true: that God was moving in my heart, and that it was okay.
In the 6 weeks prior to being in California, I had started seeing glimpses and having dreams of a life very different than the one I am currently living; not better or more spiritual or anything, just different. A lot of what they revealed seemed (and still seem) impossible, ridiculous, and slightly irresponsible, so I tried to stop thinking about it all. But they came back again and again, in bits and pieces and in no way creating a full picture. And on that couch that I found myself speaking them out for the first time, leaving my head and heart to be taken in by others, making sure to mention just how "silly" and "impossible" it all was... and yet I was quickly reminded by people I love and trust that that's exactly the realm that God loves to work in.
"We'll never thrive in the process unless we accept the place where God has put us, because that is the only place He will work with us... It takes faith and commitment to trust the God who have us both the dream and our current assignment and to say, "I don't understand how You're going to get me from here to there. But getting me there is Your job, and this wall in front of me is my job." Faithfulness to build the wall is not giving up your dream; it's trusting God with your dream."
Rooted by Banning Liebscher
I eventually took a few days by myself on the coast to drive up and down Highway 1, treat myself to nice meals, go on scenic hikes, and take lots of photos. But more than that, I allowed myself to really dream, and began praying specifically about about it all, asking what He was trying to show me and what He wanted me to do. And I realized a few simple but significant things in my time of prayer and reflection:
- God is the giver of our dreams and visions and desires.
- Not all seasons are going to be or look like what we expect, but:
- God knows what He is doing and where He is placing/has placed us, and:
- Nothing He has us do is in vain or will be wasted.
- God wants to do the impossible in our lives, but more than that He wants deeper intimacy with us.
It was then - as I found myself crying out in worship - that I knew deep in my bones that He was asking me to remain faithful to exactly where He has placed me: in Nashville, at my job, in relationships, to my student loan payoff, etc. I also knew that the images running through my head were not just me being a starry-eyed daydreamer, but that He was beginning to prepare my heart for what He has got planned for me in the future. And it was all so very freeing -- to know that the wall has purpose just as much as the dreams do. I headed back to Nashville with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to take on whatever God brings my way, including my wall.
So, about the wall. The wall is the thing that's in front of you right now, and the areas God wants to grow and develop you as His son or daughter. It's where He will work in your heart, pruning what needs to be removed and preparing you for what He has for you in the future. For me, it's Nashville, and everything that comes along with being here. It's where God has put me, on purpose and for a purpose, and it is where I am supposed to remain faithful to what He has given me and grow closer to His heartbeat. And the dream? It's the things you long for, the places you want to go, and the communities you want to invest in and impact for His glory. It's the things deep in your heart that keep you up at night: the book that needs to be written or that ministry you want to join/start or the family member that you want to see come to know Jesus. They are things God wants you to pray about with open hands, to leave at His feet and trust Him with, especially if it's not quite time for them to come to fruition yet.
The wall is hard. But the wall is necessary for the dream. God has deep purpose in both, and there are things that can only be learned at the wall which will prepare and equip you for what lies ahead. So whether you are at your wall or entering into your dream, stay faithful. Trust that He will get you to where He wants you to go, and if your dreams are truly from Him, that He will get you there in His time and way. His nature is faithfulness, and He will fulfill His promises to His kids.
What is your dream? What is your wall? How are you staying focused on and faithful to your wall? If you are entering your dream, what about your time at the wall prepared you for what you are walking into?