Have you ever wanted something so badly that it consumed your every thought? In chapter 5, Lee tells the heartbreaking story of Heather Jo and her husband Jason. It had been Heather’s dream since high school to adopt children and to provide them with a safe and loving family. She married Jason and God gave them two beautiful daughters, but Heather could not give up on her dream. She kept praying and asking God if it was the right time for them to add to their family.
She thought she had an answer to her prayers when she and Jason decided to bring siblings Sydney (9) and Mark (14) into their home as foster children. Their family now felt complete… until the dream began to unravel. Mark was left alone with the girls one day and he made inappropriate advances toward them. Social services removed Mark from the home as they felt he was a danger to the girls. Trying to do what they felt was right for Sydney, Heather Jo and Jason made the commitment to adopt her as they felt she needed the stability of a family in spite of being separated from her brother. This did not turn out as they had hoped. Sydney began to act out in a violent angry manner and the family unit no longer felt safe to anyone. A former foster family stepped in and took Sydney back into their home where she was the only child and could be nurtured in the way that she needed.
Heather Jo was devastated as her dreams went up in smoke. How could this happen? Had she been so wrong in what she felt was so right? Her grief all but consumed her and she felt lost. Over time, though, she began to heal and to see that releasing that dream was the right thing to do. Mark and Sydney had been through so much trauma prior to meeting Heather and her family that they could not handle living in the normal family environment. There was nothing that Heather and Jason could have done differently but the loss of her dream and the ensuing pain was so hard for her to bear. Looking back on her loss, Heather Jo can now say that she trusts and hopes that something good will come from her story. It is her faith and hope in God that gives her something of beauty to hold onto in the face of her loss.
I, too, have lost a dream. I wanted a large family to fill our home with love and with laughter. We never expected to deal with struggling to become and to sustain pregnancies. 5 years after we were married, I became pregnant and we were ecstatic. But I lost the baby at 4 months gestation. I was angry with God… I railed at Him for the unfairness of the situation…I wanted that baby and now I was no longer pregnant. 5 years later, I became pregnant, but I was almost afraid to announce it or to even hope that this was real. My prayers, like those of Hannah in the Old Testament were answered and our son, Kyle, was born healthy. We were now a family of three.
When Kyle was almost 2 years old, we found out I was pregnant again, but it ended the same as the first one had… a miscarriage left me feeling betrayed. I felt that my body and that God had failed me once again. My dream of a big family faded like a morning mist when the sun comes up.
It was a hard decision to make but I just could not deal with another loss, so another pregnancy was not even considered. God had chosen for us to have one child. As time passed, the pain eased but the question still lingers in my mind… “Why me, Lord? Why could I not have the dream that I wanted so badly?” My heart still aches for those lost babies and I wonder what life would have been like with them in our lives. But I can say that I look forward to being reunited with them in heaven as I trust that they are safe in Jesus’ arms.
For reflection: 1. Have you ever risked something important to you and then experienced a disappointing result?
Being a mother was something I had dreamed of from childhood. I expected that it would just happen as part of being married. Having it become so difficult an experience was not something I even considered . 2. How did the disappointment or grief look back when you were in the thick of it? How does it look to you today? How has the experience affected the way you think about dreams, risks, God and faith?
The feelings I had at the time were anger, betrayal, frustration and unworthiness. I felt God had decided that I was not fit to be a mother and He took that opportunity away from me. Looking back, I know those thoughts were not valid but when your emotions are all over the map, it is hard to think rationally. Even to this day, I find it hard to always trust God with my hopes and my dreams. There is a wee voice in the back of my mind that says “it ain’t gonna happen.” I am working hard to silence that voice, but it is not easy as I have listened to it for so many years.
3. Does it take more courage to follow a dream or let go of a dream? Do you believe God might want to transform your dreams into something new?
I am not sure one is any more difficult than the other. It takes courage to pursue something that is important to you… to put the time and the energy into making it happen. But to let go of that dream is just as hard… to give up the emotions and the hopes tied up in that dream can leave you exhausted. After losing our first child, I attended a few meetings of a group called “Empty Cradle” which was a support group for women dealing with the loss of a child through miscarriage, still-birth or sudden infant death. At one of the meetings, two women asked for volunteers to be interviewed for a study they were conducting in dealing with miscarriages. I was interviewed and some of my comments were included in their book “Miscarriage: Women Sharing from their Heart.” I hope that my thoughts can be of some comfort to women who are experiencing the same losses.
4. What is the “dawn of a morning of hope” for you? What risks are you willing to take to reach out for it?
I made a decision at the beginning of this year that I would pursue working on my dream of writing and this blog is a result of taking a risk to reach out for it.