Sometimes I wonder if I’m dreaming big enough?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of constantly second-guessing myself. It seemed that the further into my English major I’d go, the more I’d doubt certain aspects of my life. It started out as small, subtle things like if I’d be able to finish reading a certain chapter by the next class period or if I felt ready for the 2-question quiz the next day. And it grew worse: I started doubting my ability to write papers, stories, and essays on midterms. It seems that the critical-thinking tools I had acquired in the classroom were affecting me outside as well.
It could have been a mixture of things going on with my emotions, though. As is typical with fatherless kids, I may not have been receiving enough verbal affirmation. And with whatever encouragement I did receive, I always had that lingering thought, “If you are so good at this (whatever it was), then why did your father leave you? Why did he book it if you really have value?” Bottling those thoughts up made things even worse, too.
When you have issues with your heart and you don’t spill them, no one’s able to reach out and help. That’s why the Proverbs say, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy,” (28:13). More often than not I think God wants to deal with our hearts rather than anything else. Yes, forgiving us of our sins is a part of that, but His sole purpose in having us confess to Him (and others) is to heal us (James 5:16). My sickness wasn’t so much that I didn’t have a dad around, but that I didn’t open up about all the side effects. It’s like having the Swine Flu without going to the doctor; it doesn’t get treated as well as it could.
With our hearts and God’s healing touch, though, it’s much more severe; if we don’t open up before Him, we can’t be healed.
My over-analysis of myself during college was a side affect of the prolonged suppression of the issues in my heart. Doubts were becoming more convincing since I made little or no effort to seek the Doctor about my fatherless wound.
On the retreat to Trinity Lake a couple weeks ago, these side effects came out full throttle. Our speaker that week, Dusty Davis, hit my heart condition head on: He called it the “paralysis of analysis.” He walked into my section of the house boat moments after I had been weeping. Why was I crying? I was terrified of my future. For whatever reason, I felt like I was driving 70 miles an hour through the thick fog of the Golden Gate Bridge. I doubted that I would be able to handle myself now being completely on my own for the first time in my life. “What ifs” cluttered my mind and fear suffocated my heart to the point that no amount of Scripture reading could bring me back.
This “paralysis,” as Dusty described it, is one that disables us to see the possibility, capability, and overall sovereignty of God. We analyze our lives and what could happen so much that whatever conclusions we draw up become the only possible outcomes.Even though people often told me that “God’s gonna provide,” I just couldn’t come to believe them. I didn’t take God’s agenda into consideration. And then I read through Genesis 48.
To set the scene a little bit, it’s towards the end of the story of Jacob and his son Joseph. Jacob’s other sons had sold Joseph as a slave to the Egyptians and then they had told Jacob that he had died. Jacob was deeply heart-broken and vowed to himself that he wouldn’t let Benjamin – his second son from his late wife, Rachel, and brother to Joseph – out of his sights… ever. Like Jacob, I had let the wounds of my heart keep me from dreaming God-sized dreams.
I was terrified of the future rather than excited.
With his death just around the corner, Jacob said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children, too,” (Gen. 48:11). Jacob had accepted the near-sighted, fear-laden fate that he imagined and had those dreams obliterated by what God had in store.
I can’t sit here and say that I should start expecting to be blown away by what God has planned for me. But what I know I cannot do is accept the fate my fears are writing for me. I cannot allow all the various things that I think will happen – all the “what ifs” – to convince me that none of my heart-felt dreams will come true.
The truth is that anything is possible with God if we just believe.