Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Does My Future Hold?

I think I have a propensity for missing out on good conversations. Or maybe I always miss my cue. Or, I don't recognize a good thing until after its gone. Whatever the reason, I always find myself thinking back and wishing I had said something. It's a good thing I have a blog. I have found it is useful, on more than one occasion, to artificially go back and say exactly what I wish I had. Of course it is never as good as saying it in person but one could argue that it is better than not saying anything at all.

If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it is that I know nothing.

If I had to guess, I think my future will probably have a lot more of this in it - piano and funny faces.

There was a time when my life made sense, a time when everything appeared to be under control.
I was like any other little girl back then, dreaming about my future with no concern for anything but the present. At eight years old I had my whole life planned out. I would grow up and go to Clemson University in South Carolina. I would learn music and become a concert pianist. I'd travel the world with my sister and her friend in our RV with our three horses while playing piano for a myriad of audiences. One day I would meet a handsome man and he would become my husband. We'd get married on horseback and for our honeymoon we'd hike across all of North America. After that we would buy a house. I would teach piano lessons and home-school our children. Then I would climb down from the tree where I had been dreaming and run inside to play with my siblings.

When I was ten my whole world started to change. Little clues that I had noticed growing up all of a sudden pieced together into a horrifying picture. During those years I forgot all about my dreams from before. At this point in life all I could do was to hang on for dear life and hope and cry that this new reality would not crush me. I still had dreams but they had a pitifully narrow scope. I dreamed that I would make it through alive. I dreamed that my siblings would wake up breathing the next morning. I dreamed that my dad would come from South Carolina where he was working and live with us in Missouri. I dreamed that my mom would stop crying. I dreamed that my life would go back to the way it was before all hell broke loose.

It never did. On the surface things improved and I even experienced a certain amount of spiritual healing. But you don't go through something like that completely unscathed. I still had gaping wounds and even though I wanted to pretend they were scars my flesh was still red hot and bleeding. I covered it up with band-aids. I pretended I was alright. I built for myself new dreams. My family was okay now right? We had nearly been destroyed before so now my deepest desire was a strong healthy family. I dreamed that we would live a peaceful life on our farm. I dreamed we would have the perfect family. I pushed and pushed to try and make that dream happen. I did things that a "perfect" girl from a Christian family would do. I cooked and cleaned... and cooked and cleaned. I took care of the farm animals and tried never to ask for help. I would serve my family selflessly, I would sacrifice myself for them. I would be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman and my family would rise up and call me blessed. (Now I realize there is a whole mess of theological implications these few sentences calls to mind but I'm not prepared to talk about that right now.)  But... they never did. I had turned my dream into an idol and when I didn't get recognition for everything I was doing the hatred that I had buried within myself once again began to surface. I was unhappy and felt at enmity with my family so I began to complain to my friends. At some point I confessed to my parents that I had been talking behind their backs and I did my best to stop. I shoved the hurt, the bitterness, even deeper inside and tried of my own strength to redeem myself. That's when the depression started.

When I was fourteen my parents announced that we were going to have another sibling. I had been suspecting it for some time and although I was not surprised I was pleased. I dreamed again. I dreamed that now, this time we really could be a perfect family. We were having a baby after all. I tried even harder to be a good Christian daughter. January 14th, 2011 my baby brother was born the same day that our house burned down. In one day my mom almost died, my dad was almost arrested, my siblings were almost taken away, one of our dogs died, and we were homeless. The next day my baby brother was hospitalized and I was sleeping on a mat in the upstairs room of our friends house and dressing out of plastic bags. The little peace our family had managed to cobble together was dashed to pieces. This was the second time my world had been completely crushed.

Somehow though it was alright. Even though my world was in chaos -AGAIN- I was okay. God used this experience to make my past... my past. The gaping wounds that I had desperately tried to cover up, God healed them.

We found a house to rent as soon as possible and moved in. I had new dreams now, and they weren't just mine, our family dreamed these dreams together. We were going to move to Belize. There in Belize we would build a new life for ourselves. Obviously life was not working for us here in Missouri. That summer, in the midst of our planning, Dad had a heart attack. Because of that he developed an extreme sensitivity to the cold. We felt it was an even stronger sign that we needed to move to Belize. Winter came to Missouri and we packed up the truck and traveled across the country until it was warm again. (A quick search through my archives will bring up a bunch of stories from our travels on the road. Mostly in the year 2012) We came back for the summer finished our preparations for Belize and when the cold came again we started off for Central America. As many of you know already, that didn't work out and just a week before we planned to cross the border God stopped us in our tracks. Once again we found ourselves with no home. We moved in with my grandma and lived there for about four months until somehow we found ourselves moving to Florida of all places.

I am telling you this back story so that you will understand how it affects the way I live now.

I've given up on making plans, on dreaming. My dreams when I was eight were forgotten when I was ten/eleven. The dreams I dreamed when I was eleven are barely worth calling a dream in the first place. The dream I dreamed when I was fourteen I made into an idol, and the dream our family dreamed together turned out to be nothing but an illusion. It seems that no matter what plans I make reality has a way of being anything but. No matter how much I think I know what is happening, life has a way of completely blindsiding me and knocking me right off my feet. I don't know what's happening. I don't know what's going on. I don't know how long the peace I am currently experiencing is going to last. I don't know what the future holds. There are things that I want in my future certainly - I want a family of my own, I want music to play an important role in my life - but I have no idea how that is going to happen.

In saying that I don't have dreams I am not saying however, that I don't live with a passion. There are so many things that I want to do, things that I think I can do right now, or at least the near future. I am happy right now, in fact my life is finally beginning to make sense again. I am finally able to look at my past and find some reason for it. I am trying to "be someone who travels through life, with life." -Uri Brito.   I am living my life with joy. I think that if someone were watching me that they would think that I'm living my life for a purpose. I am - but I have learned to not confuse my purpose with my dreams. My purpose in life is to praise God and show others what He has done for me, and what He can do for them too. For this purpose I live life passionately. Maybe it's a false statement to say I don't have dreams though. It's just, I put much less stock in my dreams than I used to. When we live our life for our dreams we run the risk of losing our lives when we lose those dreams. Dreams can change or they can be ripped away from us. That's why I don't count on them anymore.

So when someone asks me what I plan on doing in the future, a question I often hear as I am getting ready to start off in college, all of this is what runs through my head. How can I possibly entertain the idea of knowing what is going to happen? All I can really say is I have no idea. I know what I am doing today, and I know that what I do today affects my future, but to guess what that future holds is something completely beyond me. I try not to let it show in my face, the completely bewildered feeling I get, and I usually end up giving some mundane answer about piano. But this, all of that mess up above? This is the conversation I wish I could have. This is what I wish I could tell them.

What does my future hold? Probably something totally different than what my present is currently indicating.

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