Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
Some of the truest truth about ourselves can be mined from the depths of early childhood, in the fertile ground of the past before it was spoiled by the world’s impositions. Before we conceived of failure and found ourselves lacking, with the companion urge to fit in and conform.
The truth will set us free, indeed, but not just the truth about God. Not just the truth about the Bible, right and wrong, and what we were created to do in life, but also the truth about ourselves. The truth about who we really are, for better and worse, not the lie of who we think we should be. The truth that He created us perfectly in His image, exactly as we are.
Making peace with your true self is one of the most freeing experiences in life, and it’s the exact catapult God will use to propel you toward your purpose.
If I unravel the threads of my own life back to elementary school, I remember sitting at the end of my bed, gazing out an open window into the black night. Far removed from the light of the city, the stars were aplenty in the ink blue sky. Under the protection of darkness, the insect world was tuning up, and the hot air was thick with their symphony.
Night after night from my second story, front-facing window, I would sit and wait for something to happen. Something interesting. Something exciting. Something crazy, perhaps. But nothing ever did. It was just quiet. And dark.
So I took it upon myself to create mystery where I found none, and on tiny white labels carefully placed on used manila file folders, I wrote things like, “The Mystery of the Black Car” and “The Case of the Bearded Man” (all benign scenarios I observed from my perch). Deciding they required further investigation, I would file my notes and evidence in those folders, which I kept secure in the tan, metal file cabinet in my closet.
Because every normal 9-year-old has their own file cabinet, right?
This same vein of mystery, of probing every last bit of intrigue and truth out of the reality in front of me, continued to show up throughout my life. In grade school, I was intent on being a detective when I grew up. My best friend and I had an agreement that we would graduate, attend the same college, and then become partners in crime-fighting forever and always thereafter. But in fifth grade she decided she wanted to be a nurse instead, and I was devastated.
Undeterred, I sat at the feet of the poor sap of an FBI agent who drew the short straw on Career Day in middle school. Actually, I probably sat way in the back by myself and didn’t didn’t make a peep. Because what normal 12-year-old girl doesn’t want to be an FBI agent?? During my eighth grade year, however, I learned they had to pass a physical fitness test to qualify, and if it was anything like the President's Physical Fitness Test (I mean, who voted for that guy anyway?) we had to complete at school, I wanted nothing to do with it.
In ninth grade, I became obsessed with the book The Hot Zone (still one of my all-time faves) and decided I would unravel the mysteries of the microbiological world as a Virologist. I was also the teen who walked the hallways clutching a spiral notebook filled with philosophies on the meaning of life. Still the archetype of “normal,” as usual. My aspirations then shifted from medical doctor to psychologist to social work my second year in college. And though my career choices ran the gamut over the years, the threads of wanting to solve mysteries and help people were always there.
Today, I’m a social worker who teaches communication skills and anger management to my kids and their neighborhood friends for free, a detective who investigates which kid stole what from whom and who snuck the last piece of cake, a doctor with a self-appointed WebMD license who gets to the bottom of everything from colds to Type 1 Diabetes, and a writer/speaker who, in her spare time, seeks to unravel the mysteries of the Kingdom of God and His presence among us. Motherhood has managed to wrap all the concurrent dreams of my heart up into one cohesive package.
God has a way of taking our tiny, finite dreams and making more of them than we could’ve ever asked for or imagined. Looking back, I can see how God used and wove together the threads to create the tapestry of motherhood, writing, missions, and city life I find myself shrouded in today. That little schoolgirl gazing out her bedroom window would’ve never seen this coming, but there are some dreams so big our earthy hearts couldn’t fathom the possibility, though the beautiful, unique threads were always there.
Looking back over your own life, can you remember who you were before the world intruded and told you who to be? Where your heart wandered when you were bored, or what you thought about before you fell asleep?
If God could do anything with those dormant, perhaps even forgotten dreams, what would it be?