She had big plans for college sports even as a junior in high school. Then, as a junior in high school, her knee gave out. With it, her dreams of college collapsed as well. Her life, she told me, spiraled. Her story has not been a happy one. Much the opposite. Entirely the opposite. And last night, as she wept on my couch, I had a panoply of thoughts bumping into each other in my head. Their stampeding over one another did not help. One thought, however vague in the swirl, went something like this, 'It's such a bummer her shattered dreams burned her so.'
I'm one of those deeply philosophical types, you see.
Here's a theory my subconscious has been assembling by itself since last night: Her life burned to the ground because the foundation of everything had been removed.
My subconscious is pretty bad about mixing metaphors.
She really didn't like school. She maintained the minimal grade point average needed to keep playing sports. "College is the only way to secure a future," I'm sure her teachers told her, intentionally or not. And so when the one and only thing that nudged to toward college gave way, her life lost all direction. And despite an unenviable childhood, I'm pretty sure no one shared stories of redemption with her. I don't think anyone told her about men and women who had survived hardship and calamity and, by God's grace, came out the other side. I don't think anyone has ever told her about God's grace at all.
Even knowing about God's grace does not make you immune to the devastating impact of shattered dreams. It's even worse when it's something that feels like God's grace itself has failed. Been there. Done that.
One of the best ways to see hope on the other side of hopelessness is to read stories about how God has provided in the past. My mom has written some excellent posts on this subject, such as Teaching children how to fail and Why Sonlight shows students that the world isn't perfect. These kinds of examples -- which can also be found throughout Scripture -- demonstrate what it looks like to walk the road of life with God. We grow spiritually as we travel the miles down the road God has called us to walk.
Life can be really hard, even when we're right where God wants us. Isn't that one of the lessons we can learn from martyrs? Isn't that something we see in Paul? Isn't that what we see in Christ?
As Thanksgiving approaches, I'm looking forward to the service our church holds where we get to stand up and share things God has done for which we are thankful.
"Does anyone thank God for cancer?" one of my co-workers wanted to know.
"No," I said. "But I have heard people share about how God has brought them through the experience of cancer, whether He healed them or not. And seeing that, seeing God bring them to a place where His peace is there... wow! It's really encouraging."
Has God raised you from the ashes of shattered dreams? I've love to celebrate that story with you!
If you, or someone you know, is currently in the midst of abject disappointment, may God's peace that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ.
And I would very much appreciate your prayers for my wife Brittany and I as we seek to share the hope of Christ with people who are hurting and, sometimes, have been burned by religion. We desperately need God's grace and wisdom in those situation as well.
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian