How do I begin to introduce this woman? Elizabeth is one of the most incredible women I have ever met. Seven years ago we became roommates in Newport Beach through a random online classified ad, and I thank God for that all the time. Elizabeth quickly became one of my soul friends. We’ve walked through some high highs and really low lows. We’ve had dance parties to Justin Bieber, gone on hiking adventures, attended movie premiers, and met each other’s families. She’s nursed me back to health, and wiped my tears through multiple heartaches. She is a fierce woman of God, and continually points me back to His love and kindness. She makes me a much better woman. Last year, she became our editor here at The Refined Woman. Now I get to share her with Emily, who has quickly fallen in love with her too. I really can’t remember what life was like before she was in it.
I want to write more… but I know y’all are just going to want to see her heart for yourself! Elizabeth you are one of my favorites. I love you so much!
As a kid I spoiled the surprise by peeking at my Christmas presents. Sometimes I skip to the last chapter so I can get some sleep. And for me to prepare a meal without nibbling requires a colossal amount of effort.
Patience is something I’ve worked at, and it’s taken me a long time to enjoy the value of delayed gratification.
I had an epiphany about this recently…
1) the things we long for
2) the steps we take to move toward them
3) the ways in which we handle the in-between space, when our goals or dreams are unfulfilled
Admitting your dreams can be hard.
Not the ones that still linger from childhood, like my dream of becoming Cinderella, which is mostly about wanting to dance at a ball in a palace. Or the fun dreams, like going to Fashion Week in Paris or seeing the Northern Lights.
But the ones that really matter, like my dream of becoming a photographer. I buried that when I was still a kid, and it took decades to resurface and come to fruition. Or my current dreams of being in a different place in my career, of owning my own home, and of being married and raising kids with a man who shares my faith.
The more my dreams matter, the harder they can be to articulate. Possibly because once I admit I want something, I have to decide what to do about it. Figuring out those steps, and actually taking them can be challenging!
But the real kicker, the one that determines my quality of life, is what I do with the in-between — that vast space between admitting what I want and seeing it come to pass.
What am I supposed to do with all those dreams swirling about?
I’ve done a lot of things to try to find some relief. One is to judge myself for wanting the things I want. I think the rationale is that if I convince myself I shouldn’t want something, the absence of it will be less painful.
Another is to compare myself to those who are less fortunate. Although I’m grateful I didn’t, for example, grow up in extreme poverty, it doesn’t change my longing to be married or get a promotion. It just makes me feel guilty about something that isn’t my fault.
Sometimes I wallow in regret about the steps I haven’t taken, or bemoan the fact that I wasn’t even aware of some of my dreams until my 40s.
Other times I fret about whether I’m doing enough or pursuing things in the right way. Then I start to compare myself to others (or to a younger version of myself), and worriedly wonder, “What if it doesn’t happen?”
None of these strategies are remotely helpful. If anything, they make things worse – I feel guilty, judged, jealous, full of regret, and consumed with self-pity.
Thankfully there’s an alternative: to live in a place of trust.
I know my dreams are good and honorable. I’m taking personal responsibility to do my part, and I’ve sought wisdom from those who share my values.
With those things in place, I can be at rest and trust God with the timing and execution of what I long for and acknowledge that my life is still rich and full of purpose, regardless of whether my dreams are fulfilled.
There’s something beautiful and simple about that mindset.
When I move through my days with that perspective, the seasons of waiting don’t feel like a waste of time. It doesn’t erase the sadness I sometimes feel, but I’m able to be present and connected to what is good in my life.
It sounds easy. But trust is a choice, one I prayerfully make, several times a day. When I feel discouraged or restless, my thoughts often lead me in a dark direction. I’ve learned that when I indulge them I have to work hard to regain my focus.
I’m still on a journey with this. I have my difficult days.
But when I close my eyes and think about it, I see an ocean, and a boat, and the invitation to crawl in. I can simply rest, and I don’t have to worry about whether there’s a storm ahead, because God is both the captain of the boat and the boat itself. He is the creator of the sky, the wind, and the sea. He may crash the boat or dock it somewhere safe, but no matter what, I am loved, and I am with Him – and my life is still beautiful, and meaningful, and good.