I love my life here, I really do. There are several reasons for this. First, it’s not the fake life I used to live and that alone makes this a life to love. More importantly, though, I’m always learning or experiencing something new or different.
For example, just last week on International Women’s Day, I had the experience for the first time ever of living in a country where that day is an actual holiday – offices and schools were closed and everything – and women are celebrated by the men and boys in their lives. I said, women are celebrated. It’s not just a day where people put on a token seminar and send a bunch of meaningless sentiments by WhatsApp about how awesome and strong women are, then everyone forgets about it the next day and goes back to disregarding women or just straight up treating them like crap. Women’s Day last Thursday was a totally novel experience for me. Some of my kids brought me candy and flowers and one of my boys even dressed up in a jacket and bow tie for class. After work on the eve of Women’s Day, the four men who work here threw all forty-plus of us women a party. They gave each of us a card and a tulip and they sang a couple of songs for us. Then we played party games, danced a little and generally had a nice time being appreciated by the men.
In my life here, I have a job that I love, working with people who I really like (and a few that I even love), and living in my own place. I’m involved in activities that bring me enjoyment and expand my horizons. And more possibilities are added every week. The cherry on top, of course, is that this life is unfolding in an extreme location, a place so different from any I ever imagined myself even visiting, much less living in. This life is so much the exact opposite of the one I was living just a few short years ago that it’s laughable, and I’ve never been happier in my life.
I have these dreams and visions that tickle the edge of my mind all the time. I see a life beyond this one that unfolds in my mind unexpectedly and at odd times, usually when I’m doing something mindless like brushing my teeth or cooking. I see it all in perfect detail so beautifully that I sometimes have to stop myself from thinking about it too much so that I don’t start yearning for it and become unappreciative of the beauty that is my current life.
What are these dreams and visions? They’re different but similar. They’re simple but complicated. They’re clear but fuzzy. They are dreams for every area of my life: my home, my family, my career, my relationship with God.
Some of these dreams are amazingly clear. For example, I can practically see my house in front of me: the large but cosy kitchen; the sumptuous master suite with the Zanzibar chest that I’ll finally buy holding a place of honour and mystery at the foot of my bed; the wall of windows along one side of the house that look out on the gorgeous view; the fireplace in the living room with the Turkish rug I bought in Istanbul almost four years ago lying in front of it. Then there are the inhabitants of the house: the husband, the children, the pets, the friends who stop by for a chat or a meal or a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. And there’s the town: small but bustling, with all the essentials but little of the aggravation that comes with city living, plus a gem of a bookstore and a coffee shop .
My career dreams are not as clear as my dreams of home and family but I find that they’re developing and becoming clearer over time. Those I won’t share now because I don’t think it’s the right time but those dreams are as precious to me as all the others. My dreams of my relationship with God are the least detailed because all I know is that I want to be as close to Him as possible, I want to accomplish everything that He has laid out for me to do, and I want to be an excellent representative for Him. I don’t know how that will all unfold but I suspect that part of it is through my other dreams.
In my less confident moments, I wonder if these dreams are fantasies that I’ve concocted in my head, but mostly I know that they aren’t. A fantasy would be me dreaming of marrying a prince and living in a fairy tale castle while he takes care of me and makes all of my dreams come true. I don’t want that at all. I want a real life where God and I partner together to turn my visions into reality, through whatever means He sees fit. No, I know that my dreams aren’t fantasies. I think these are real visions that God has given me of a possible future. I say possible because He will do His part to take me there but I also have a part to play and these dreams won’t become reality if I don’t hold up my end of this partnership.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna. I can honestly say that, even though I’m confident that I’m not floating around with my head in the clouds, and even while my dreams give me a little spark of happiness whenever they come up in my mind, they also scare me a little sometimes because I wonder, “What if these things never happen?” Because that would be the worst outcome of all – having these beautiful dreams that never become real. But doubt doesn’t turn dreams into reality so whenever they come I push them away and keep my visions clear ahead of me. What have I got to lose anyway?
So let’s see how they unfold, shall we?
This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT)