Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Personal Reflection... A Dream ReAwakened!

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore, then run? …..”
So queried Langston Hughes many decades ago, adding the possibilities of a deferred dream “sagging like a heavy load,” or possibly “exploding.” I would like to add another possibility--- a probability in my own life: Might that deferred dream stay nestled in the loving hands of The Father, delivered in His time, His Will, His Way?…. and as we know, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are above our thoughts.
Thirty-something years ago, anyone who knew me knew that one of my most consistent dreams was to travel the world. I used to say, “I don’t need a fancy house or a lot of possessions--- just enough income to travel wherever, whenever I want to”. Anyone who knows me now, knows part 1 of that statement is pretty much my situation. But part 2 of that statement….. I don’t know what happened there? Thirty years, 3 kids and 2 marriages later, and the extent of my “world travel” was a honeymoon to Trinidad-Tobago and a couple of trips across our north and south borders. That’s it. I almost made it to Ghana once. Almost. And the dream? Well, for a while I gave the typical answer: “Once you have kids, things usually have to go on hold.” But then my kids grew up. I have 2 adult children now and one teenager. So…. what about that dream? It seems somewhere in the midst of “life happens,” it was forgotten. It wasn’t a load, or an explosion of even a dried up raisin in my mind. It was, by all accounts, just gone.
It’s ironic--- and just like our God--- that the only reason I have ended up traveling to the other side of the world is because of my children--- my firstborn to be exact. When I used to remember the deferred dream during my 20’s and 30’s, I looked at my children as the obstacle. By 50, I had forgotten all about the dream, but it was my child that re-awakened it! January 2010, my daughter Rhema left the hustle and bustle of NYC life (she had worked for CBS- “The Early Show”), flew 6000 miles away from home all alone, and took a teaching job in Dalian, China. Despite my fears and longings to have her near me, I sensed God’s hand in this whole thing, just as she did, so it is no surprise to me that she is not only a well-loved teacher (middle school age and adults), but she has also been picked up by Dalian’s city magazine and is on the American writing staff for them. What did come as a surprise, however, was the day she presented me with round-trip tickets to China! Her brother and sister and I just returned from this phenomenal experience in “Rhema’s World.” ( Or “Tang Rui” as they affectionately call her). You can see the pictures on my Facebook account, but you won’t see the picture of my own personal highlight. If you did, it would be a shot of a Chinese vendor helping me select 3 lbs of apricots and a bunch of bananas and grapes for 20 “quai” (The RMB currency equivalent to about 3 dollars). If there was audio, you’d hear me stumbling through a poor pronunciation of “duoshao qian?” (How much does it cost?), but being understood. And understanding her answer. Understanding. That’s what that personal highlight photo would be. Interacting with everyday folk with a completely different language in a completely different world 6000 miles from my own….. but understanding each other. And the next photo would show tears in my eyes as I strolled away, making my way past the meat vendors, squatting at their pork and chicken (and who knows what else!) skewers roasting on the outdoor “mini-grills.” Tears --because that would be the moment the Deferred Dream was re-awakened….. resurrected from the deadened corners of my mind.
When I was 18 years old, there was no husband, there were no kids. There was only me, my gifting, my calling and my God. And that dream of seeing the world. One trip to China doesn’t qualify me as a “world traveler” by any means, but it has endowed me with the confidence to say, God willing, I will be back. It has replaced my fears of the unfamiliar with a desire to see more of My Father’s World. And most importantly, it does qualify me to testify that God does indeed work in mysterious ways. As parents, our job is to push our children out of the nest, into this big, magnificent world. How strange—and wondrous---that, in this case, my daughter became “my parent.” Borrowing a quote from TD Jakes, the very thing that you believe (ie, have used as an excuse) to “bind” you up all these years, “could be the fuel God uses to propel you towards your destiny,” and release your dreams deferred!