I never thought I'd live to see twenty-one. After a long history of sexual abuse, rape, and living in a chaotic environment, my mother left me alone in our gang-ridden neighborhood, at the age of thirteen, with my eight-year-old brother, to fend for ourselves for three months. During that summer, I became involved with an older boy who offered us food and protection. The relationship became abusive and exploitative, and ultimately led me to working in the sex industry as a stripper. Essentially, my boyfriend became my pimp and my life was spiraling out of control.
In Him, I found grace, healing, and a path to freedom. I began to dream again. I dreamed of a day that I would have a home with a white picket fence, and a green lawn with children’s toys scattered about. I dreamed of an intact family where we would all have the same last name. My dream represented safety and stability—something I didn’t experience much of throughout my childhood.
I mistakenly believed that if I went to church on Sunday, read the right books, and did the right things, all of my dreams would be realized and I would have a certain Jesus-immunity to the troubles of life.
Within a few years, everything was going according to my plan. I was married with a beautiful baby, and had a home with a yard. Life was so good that I was jealous of my own self!
When I found out my husband had been having affairs, and ultimately wasn’t willing to fight for restoration in our marriage, I felt like every hope I ever had for my life was crushed. The life I dreamed of was completely falling apart.
In his poem, “Harlem”, Langston Hughes poses a question. “What happens to a dream deferred?”
“Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?”
I believe that what happens to our dreams when they are deferred, out of reach, or even shattered, depends on the dreamer. How we respond will determine whether we are propelled closer to the God-dream for our life or further from it.
In the wake of my husband’s confession, I was faced with a decision…
Where was I going to place my hope? Was I going place my hope in the dream I had for my life? Or was I going to place hope in God?
According to the Bible, hope deferred makes the heart sick, but hope in Jesus is an anchor for our soul. I couldn’t change my circumstances, as much as I wanted to, but I could decide how I was going to respond to them.
I invite you to reflect on the following questions: Where is your hope today? Is your hope in the dream for your life? Or is your hope in The Giver of Dreams?