Unspoken dreams

A year and a half ago, I made a bold decision to quit my job and enroll in vet tech school. I was going to work in a zoo.

Until recently, I never told anyone why I would make such a drastic career move.

I gave plenty of explanations. I needed to follow my dreams. Animals were my passion. Nonprofit work was too draining.

But I never told anyone what kept me up at night. The church. That beautiful bride of Christ. I prayed over her, wrestled over her. I prayed for pastors and churches I had never been to and gave to ministries I had never volunteered with. The church had been this burden on my heart since I was eight years old. I used to dream of what the church could be, this unified body of believers all worshipping together.

I dreamt of the day I could work in full-time ministry, where I could use my gifts to bring the body closer to reconciliation with God and man.

Satan had fun with that dream. I encountered sexual abuse in the church, unfit pastors, slanderous leaders and favoritism. From church to church, I ran into sick, hurting congregations. I became suspicious and fearful. Was the problem me? Did I just have a radar for unhealthy churches?

And then there was me. I was rarely allowed to volunteer in the church. At any given point, the church reminded me that I was not qualified.

First, it was that I couldn’t drive (at the time). Then, I was too young. Too feisty. I asked too many questions. I was a woman. It got darker. I had endured abuse. I hadn’t gone to enough counseling (I had been attending counseling for ten years by the time I was told this).

But every time I was permitted to do what I felt God was calling me to do, I knew they were wrong. I walked alongside young girls who struggled with the very things I had battled. I sat with girls who came to me because of the very circumstances that the church had always pushed back on.

They wanted to hear there was life past self-harm, past abuse, past shame. They wanted to believe that they could one day look in mirror and not hate their reflection.

Because of the circumstances God had allowed to happen in my life, I could do what someone without my baggage could never do.

But the church didn’t want me. Ministries turned me away. So I chased the safer dream because I was tired of crying.

Somehow, God brought me back. He brought me back to the dreams I ran away from. This time, I fret even more. This time, I’m not just the disabled girl with an abusive past. God has thrown schizophrenia into the mix. I feel even more unqualified than I did before. My dreams have me more humbled than they ever did before, because only God can take this mess and make it true. I often feel immobile to do anything.

God only allows that which will glorify Him the most to happen in our lives. It’s oddly comforting.

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