(Note: Continuing along the line of sharing my journey from 2014. This year has shaped a number of things in my soul, and it feels important to start the year writing about this journey. It appears I am not alone)

Without a vision, I hear, people perish. I might say it this way. When I stopped dreaming, I started to let go of life. I stopped dreaming, because I stopped hoping. You know—hope—that way of thinking that has inherent expectations of tomorrow, and the next tomorrow. And I stopped hoping, because I had allowed my hope to rest on things which clearly did not have the ability to sustain such weighty human treasure.

Simple things that we all expect and don’t even know we expect, provide tomorrows fuel for todays actions. We put money in a bank, because we expect it to be solvent. We fill a car with gas and without a thought, expect that car to run for the next three hundred miles. Every day is filled with the simple actions of hope. Tomorrow will be the natural result of all the days and investments and actions that have led up to it. Unless its not.

You will be happy to know (or perhaps I should just be content that I am happy) that I am dreaming again. That hope is floating back to the surface in simple ways, and I still fill my car with gas. I felt I should tell you that before I tell of the journey. Because in the journey of this last year, I stopped Dreaming, Hope was locked behind a door somewhere, and the third person of this trinity, Trust, was given a run for its money.

My problem had been that I built my hope on a pact I thought I had made with God. I will do my part, and He will do His part, and we will all live happily ever after. My tank is full, I can drive freely about the country. That is until circumstances outside of my control, continued to be outside of my control.

You see this pact I thought I had made included, in my mind at least, that my life would turn out a certain way. That tomorrow’s circumstances would be the natural outcome of today’s investments. I had maintained hope, because my tomorrows always seemed to work out. Until they didn’t.

When my long awaited tomorrows were suddenly taken away, I had no category, no place in my soul to take in or understand this new reality. Had God reneged on His deal? Had I so fundamentally misunderstood our agreement that things could turn like this? Either way, reality, my reality was being redefined. Not in small ways. My big picture of How Things Should Be suddenly—was shattered.

Things I had trusted in, hoped in, were gone. I had not been consulted, God had not given me a vote. They were just gone. And with it, my whole thought system around Hope.

Sadly, people often do not know how to be close to people who are struggling. Some simply avoid you. Others comfort themselves by creating reasons in their mind why you must be suffering. Both because of the responses I often got and because of my own tenderness, I chose isolation over trying to swim through other peoples well-intentioned thoughts and ideas. It would be easy to guess about my circumstances, and almost impossible to guess rightly.

When I was young, I isolated from people because of shame and fear. This last year I isolated because I was simply too raw to be me in the context of human connection. This created a great deal of tension inside, when many of my old hopes and dreams were connected to things that required me to not be hidden. You know, things like launching a book, or more important, making an impact in ways your heart feels called.

This was all the more complicated by the fact that my chosen profession not only does not allow isolation, but necessitates meaningful human connection. I hid when I could.

My trust of God and people was at an all time low. Ironically, while it was people I isolated from, it was people who helped begin the journey back. Imagine for a moment if your fear of needles could only be cured by medicine that comes in a syringe. I needed the very thing that I wanted to avoid.

Sometimes strangers via email, or Facebook would tell me that my life made a difference. Sometimes friends would just tell me they loved me. Through the fog of not dreaming, I continually heard the message that my dreaming mattered. Much more important I also heard the message that I mattered. Not my teaching, not my writing, not my work on behalf of the Kingdom; Me. My life mattered and my heart mattered.

But hope felt risky and partly because hope, I knew, would inevitably lead to action. You know, action like, giving your heart again. Action like taking risks. Action like starting to give voice to dreams. And you know what happens when you give voice to things? Its like filling your car with gas. You start to expect things to happen. You dream, and next thing you know, you are in that danger zone again.

So here is what I am learning.

That truth still sets you free, even if that means acknowledging a hard truth that is yet unfinished in your heart.

No circumstance is as solid as it seems, and certainly not as solid as you tell yourself.

That hope based on circumstance will always provide an opportunity for hope to be tested.

That not all people should be trusted, but I need people who are trustworthy in my life.

That my definition of what God says is not necessarily what He says.

That I only own me, and am only responsible for tending my heart. No one else, and no one else’s choices should dictate how I tend my heart.

And the number one thing I learned is the thing I am still learning: That when I stop hoping because of circumstance and start learning to hope in the goodness of God even in painful circumstances, my hope cannot be shaken.

Dreaming is that way of thinking where your mind and heart partner together to generate life-filled possibilities. I am dreaming again. I am putting voice to my dreams. It feels a bit like walking out onto a frozen lake, testing the safety of the ice. But I am walking nevertheless. It is just as dangerous to not give of your life and your heart, as it is to give it in risky places. I am entering a new phase of my life, where things seem much less certain. Because of this, discovering those things that actually are certain, matters more than ever.

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