Anna, my 13-year-old, was out of school today. My family continues to share the ‘love’ with one another as we pass a virus around. By this afternoon she was feeling a little better. She logged onto the computer and quickly became engaged in what has become one of her favorite pastimes – looking at houses and house plans.
I’m not sure if she is dreaming of her own future or if she is trying to find a way for us to have a place of our own. We live in the church manse. For that, I am very grateful. I do not have to cut my grass. I don’t have to pay house insurance. If something breaks, it gets fixed. The best part of that is, I don’t have to pay the repairman. As a single mom, I know a good deal when I see one.
However, our house is fairly old. The bedrooms are quite small. The bathrooms are really, really small and, shall we say, out of date. There is NO storage space. Between me, my 3 children, the dog, and the 2 cats, it’s hard to find a quiet space just to be. And it’s not ours. Therefore, we can’t do all that much to it to make it more appealing. The church might go along with some projects, but we really don’t have the money to spare so I don’t even ask.
And so today Anna was looking at houses again while I struggled to get boxes up into our small attic in an effort to get some of our junk out of the way.
She found a doozie. It is a million dollar home that will be given away to some lucky winner. Furnished. With an SUV in the garage. With a pool house that is large enough to make our house look like a dog house. Holy cow, indeed.
She kept calling me to look at pictures of the kitchen, or the master bedroom, or the gigantic deck, or the pool. I was still hauling boxes and wasn’t too thrilled with the interruptions. My sitter would be calling any minute to tell me that the babies were awake from their nap and that I could come pick them up. I wanted to finish in the attic before that call came.
“Don’t you like it?” she asked as I brushed her off with a quick glance at the latest picture.
“Yeah. I guess so. It’s just so big. I don’t think I can even dream that big.” I started up the ladder with yet another box.
“That’s sad,” she said quietly. “I don’t have any trouble dreaming big.”
I stopped right where I was – about halfway up the narrow ladder with an unwieldy box of clothes that probably need to go to Goodwill perched on my shoulder. She is right. It is sad. When did I forget how to dream big?
I know that I can do it. Look at me now, for Pete’s sake. I started seminary as a separated young mother with a 5-month-old baby and a big dream that I could actually earn an M.Div. I traveled to Guatemala not once, but twice last year to claim two new children. I can dream big, about certain parts of my life anyway.
So why can’t I dream big about other things – like houses, or relationships, or big vacations? It is so easy for me to say, “I’ll never be able to afford a nice house of my own” or “God may be capable of creating a man that would embrace my family and my profession, but I don’t think God had created him yet” or “I don’t know how I could possibly pull off a long trip to (fill in the blank) with the babies.” Sometimes being practical sucks.
Or am I really being practical? Maybe I’m just scared. Maybe I’m afraid of trying to take on all that goes along with owning a home on my own. And maybe I’m still on my own because I won’t give anyone a real chance out of fear that I will get hurt again. And maybe I’m afraid of long trips with the kids because of all the “what ifs.” (What if we have car trouble? What if one of them gets sick? What if I get sick? etc., etc. )
I need to learn to dream big again.
I remember years ago when I was still teaching school a small poster that I hung in my classroom. It was a drawing of Garfield, asleep with a smile on his face. In the dream bubble above his head was the image of a lion. The caption read, “Dream big.”
I wonder what the dream bubbles above my head would look like if I could just free myself to dream big? I think that maybe I should try to find out.
Blessings – and big dreams!