Looking back to my childhood, I don’t really remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up a lot. At least not until upper elementary. But even when I wasn’t asked to, I was a dreamer. I had goals and plans for my life.
I spent the majority of my free time in early elementary playing F.B.I with my best friend. We would run through the fields with a bag of the “essentials” close at hand – walkie talkies, papers with the criminal’s information (scribbles), and of course snack – searching for the bad guy. We had close encounters with danger and had to hide a lot. We’d jump over logs and make narrow escapes from death. Those times were all in play, if you look at it from the adult perspective. Yet, from my perspective, I was practicing for the life I wanted to live. I wanted to fight evil and bring them to justice. I wanted to go on adventures.
As I grew older, playing F.B.I. became a thing of the past; maybe F.B.I. had become childish to me, or it could have been because we moved hours away from my best friend. Either way, I put it away as a childhood memory and moved on. As I entered middle school I had decided to become the CEO of a company, any company really. Now to be quite honest, I had no idea what that actually meant. All I knew is that being a CEO meant several things: you were in charge, you were important, and you could live comfortably. It all sounded good. I could rock a business skirt and jacket. I could tell people what to do. That was the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world helping people do the right thing, and make money doing it. About the same time, I felt God call me to become a missionary. The burden was laid on my heart. I had no idea how being a CEO and a missionary could work. However, I knew God gave me dreams for a reason, so He must have a plan. And boy, did He ever.
The beginning of high school came and a natural disaster changed my perspective. Those of you who know me can probably remember the years I spent planning to be a doctor. I lived and breathed all things medical. I read books about the anatomy and physiology of the body. I planned out the schooling it would take. The image of being a missionary made more sense now. Missionary and doctor, man I could really change the world! I could tell people about Jesus, and help them live healthier lives. I could do what physical part needed to be done, and God could do the Spiritual. I could travel the world, and go on adventures. It was like the pieces of the puzzle of my life were slowly starting to come together. Somewhere in these dreams, I had decided I was also going to live on a ranch, out in the country, surrounded my nature and the people I loved.
Fast forward to college, my freshman year. God had said “NO”. I was frustrated and in a deep depression. However, when I followed the plan God had for me I felt a peace that passed all of my understanding. God changed my mind. In a very short amount of time, I went from being in the Pre-Med program at a private university to being a part of the Early Childhood Education program at a public university. The time at the public university was a time of huge growth for me, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. The missionary thing was still in my mind. Even though it didn’t seem as awe-inspiring to some people, teaching little children the basics of human knowledge and loving them like Jesus made sense too. I could travel the world and love on who is considered “the least of these”. I could spread the gospel and help people better their lives. It’s not what my plans had been. But it made sense.
Now, college is over. I’ve graduated. I’m sitting here on the couch, windows opened, drinking a cup of hot tea. This week has had its ups and downs; trying to teach and love 19 six year olds every day for eight hours does make one tired. I’m thankful for my day of rest. I couldn’t make it through each week without relaxing. Sometimes the papers, lesson plans, intervention paperwork, RTI planning, and trying to find ways to engage all of my kiddos has to be set aside just to breathe. I never dreamed this would be my life. I didn’t think I would get a job teaching first grade at a phenomenal school in a small town in the U.S. right out of college. I didn’t think I would spend days loving on kiddos that were not my own with every ounce of my being and then go home in the evenings to cook dinner, do laundry, and clean the house. To be quite honest, if you would have asked me any time before now in my life if I would enjoy a life like this, I would have shrugged and said “Not likely. It sounds too mundane.” I have spent up to and beyond 60 hours of working each week just to keep from drowning in this new adventure. It is everything but mundane. As I look back at my childhood dreams and ambitions, I can see where God was leading me. I can see the root of my dreams and really, it does make sense.
You see, childhood dreams are important. The Bible says in Matthew 18:3: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter in the kingdom of heaven.” When we are young, our minds our pliable. They can be taught, molded, and changed with ease, compared to doing the same when we are older. All of my childhood dreams pointed to deeper longings God had set in my heart. I wanted to be an F.B.I. agent, but really, I wanted to go on an adventure. Oh, the adventure that my life has already taken me on. No, I’m not fighting physical crimes and bringing people to justice. But I am fighting for God’s army. I’m fighting a Spiritual war every day. I wanted to be a CEO, but really, I wanted to be important. And you know what? I am important. I’m important in the eyes of my God, my Savior, my friend, Jesus. He placed that dream in me so that I would always seek Him first. I wanted to be a doctor; I wanted to help people lead healthier lives; I wanted to fix their problems as much as I could. God has called each of us to reach the dying world, the sick, the hungry. That’s what He called His church to do! I wanted to live on a ranch. But really, I wanted to be at peace. Being out in the country, to me, brings peace. I can hear God; I can see His handiwork. The clutter goes away from my mind and I can see things clearly. That’s what I really wanted. That’s what God wanted for me. I wanted to be a missionary. To preach His gospel, the Good News of His saving grace. He placed that dream in my heart so that I may passionately live out His love every day. It doesn’t mean I will travel the world and see different cultures, even though I want to. But it does mean that every day, every moment, I am surrounded by people that need His love; I see the need in their lives for my Savior, and I can be the vessel He uses to show them His love.
Your childhood dreams weren’t silly. God uses what we can understand (the physical) to show us what we cannot always understand (the spiritual). Your dreams, hopes, and desires, all point to one thing. They all direct us to our deep need for our God. The longings we have openly display the holes in our lives that He is supposed to fill. Your childhood dreams point to God’s plan for your life. His plan for each of our lives can be said in this: to Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul, and to love your neighbor. If you do those two things, you will go on an adventure; you will help those in need; you will be at peace; you will you know you are important, not because of who you are, but because of WHOSE you are, because of Who lives in you.