Daring to Dream; Taking a Leap

“Daring to dream what is deepest in our collective longings is
what makes us most human and fully alive.”
– Wendy Wright, The Vigil

I’ve been offline a great deal because I’ve gone back to school – enrolled in an academy that meets once a month for 11 months. It came about suddenly, and is proving to be filled with blessings. I’ll share the story with you, in the hope that it will bless you, too.

Paris door What happened is this: a door closed at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013. The video project about family-centered care on which I have been working for the past couple of years ground to a furious halt, incomplete, and it took a valued personal and professional relationship with it. 

I had to assess where I was, what was possible, and do my best to discern where wisdom was pointing. But before that, I had to recover from the shock and pain of the way the end of the project had transpired. It is not an exaggeration to say that this was the most difficult thing I’ve encountered since Katie died.

I had no idea whether it was wise to try to have the video finished or not. I did not have the emotional wherewithal nor the financial freedom to do it. It was difficult to discern whether this meant that the video was not “supposed” to be finished (a sign from the universe to stop the work I have felt led to do), or whether this was simply a problem that needed to be resolved. 

How was I to interpret the situation:  press on with diligence, or walk away and let it go? Which was the grace-directed path? Did I really have anything that important to say – important enough to suffer and sacrifice even more for it? I honestly did not know.Rose Window Chandelier

I consulted people in the field of video, marketing and the law. I prayed. I cried. I stressed. I talked it over with trusted advisers. And one day, I received a kind message from a stranger – a doctor who is the acquaintance of a friend of mine. 

At my friend’s suggestion, I had written to this doctor (a few months before any of “the troubles” began,) and, receiving no reply, had forgotten all about it. His message therefore came as a complete surprise – and a welcome one. This doctor is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer. His business/ministry involves helping to motivate people and transform their lives. He has worked on the front lines, aiding the public after numerous natural disasters. His name is Dan Diamond, and he invited me to call him.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Diamond’s website: “Our mission is to resuscitate and equip people to thrive when times are tough. We believe in empowering and inspiring people to make a difference and discover significance. Only in giving life away does one actually find it.” I was excited to hear what he had to say.

In the course of our conversation, Dr. Diamond told me about a group to which he belongs, called the National Speakers Association. He suggested that I contact the local chapter. This one phone call would lead to encouragement, sharing of resources, support, kindness, generosity, understanding and an invitation to join the group, which was just about to launch a brand-new academy. Jan McLaughlin of Your Communication Connection is the Dean of the academy, and she offered an insightful, listening ear and a warm welcome.

NSA was described to me in this way: We are not a group that believes there is a pie with only so many pieces to go around; we are a group that says, “We’ve made a pie; come and have some!”

But to go back to school when I felt confused, beaten and stymied? Why would I do that? What could the National Speakers Association possibly have to do with me – and what would I have to contribute? I’m not a “national speaker” – not a “national” anything.

The following anecdote arrived in my INBOX around this time:

“There’s a famous story about the lion who came upon a flock of sheep and to his amazement found a lion among the sheep. It was a lion who had been brought up by the sheep ever since he was a cub. It would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep. The lion went straight for him, and when the sheep-lion stood in front of the real one, he trembled in every limb. And the lion said to him, ‘What are you doing among these sheep?’ And the sheep-lion said, ‘I am a sheep.” And the lion said, ‘Oh no, you’re not. You’re coming with me.’ So he took the sheep-lion to a pool and said, ‘Look!’ And when the sheep-lion looked at his reflection in the water, he let out a mighty roar, and in that moment he was transformed. He was never the same again.”  – Anthony de Mello, Awareness

Because of the demise of the video project (and the way it happened), I had begun to doubt myself, my ability to be of service to others, and my path. In soul-searching with a spiritual director, I did my best to be honest about my mistakes and shortcomings, but also to be honest about the role of others – and to see the larger context. And then, this quote appeared:

“Without being discouraged on account of our sins, we should pray for God’s grace with a perfect confidence relying upon the infinite merits of our Lord. God never fails offering us His grace at each action, as I have distinctly perceived it myself… unless my thoughts had wandered from a sense of God’s Presence, or unless I had forgot to ask His assistance.”
– Br. Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Rose Window candles

and then, this one popped into my INBOX:

“Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and healer in your personal life, family, and community? Approach him with expectant faith. God’s healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from. Do you take your troubles to him with expectant faith that he will help you?  ‘Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver from harm. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service. ‘ “   –DailyScripture.net

and significantly, this one arrived:

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” David Lloyd George

Tofino (48)

and finally, this: And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” – Phil. 1: 6

I copied and pasted these quotes into a Word document, and referred to them for encouragement. They fed me, by grace. After consulting an informal “clearness committee” of friends and family, I decided to take a leap of faith, applied to the class, and went back to school.

DMG skydive 4

photo courtesy of David M. Gerstenberger

The dean, the instructors, the curriculum and other students have already blessed me greatly. They are helping me to take my somewhat fuzzy vision of what I would like to do and put it through a rigorous process of questioning and refining. It requires a lot of homework, but it feels energizing, right and good.

I still don’t know what will happen with the video, nor is it clear what I am being called to do next, but I am working to improve my skills, willing to share and serve, and listening for insight. 

This experience is not simply about me, my story and my work, but touches upon the question of what is meant to be for the greater good (which includes me and you, as parts of a whole). It is a process, more than a product – it is not static. We don’t have to be “perfect” now; we do need to wake up, give thanks for what we have, offer ourselves wholeheartedly to what is in front of us, and listen for the next step.
Rainbow 002

“I am sure God wants us to be whole and healthy in every way possible, 

but love neither depends upon these things nor ends with them. 

In fact, blessings sometimes come through brokenness  

that could never come in any other way.”

– Gerald May, The Awakened Heart

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11 thoughts on “Daring to Dream; Taking a Leap

  1. This entire entry left me speechless. Right before my grandmother died I had a similar crushing event in my life surrounding my goals and purpose for my career. I was left wondering where I was supposed to go, if anywhere at all, or to return to what I already knew and was familiar with (law). In fact, I’m still wondering where I’m headed. Since November things in my life have been emotionally tumultuous given, not the least of which is losing my beloved doggie, and so I haven’t been able to give myself and my situation the proper attention deserved. Although circumstances are different as to how we arrived here, the end result seems to be the same I think. I’m printing out this entire post to reflect and see if I can gain insight and clarity on this journey as well. Thank you for writing it.

    • OK, I think I’ve done it! I started a WP blog just so that I could comment on the blogs of my WP friends. It has taken me several tries to sort out names and passwords, but I seem to be here.

      What I want to say is that this sound so much like my decision to return to seminary after Josh died: the sense of having been completely crush, the doubt about everything except for the certainty that I had nothing left to offer anyone.

      I am SO thrilled for you; I know that the skills you learn will enable you to give so much to so many!

  2. Karen,
    I so admire the way you speak your truth and am proud of these steps you are taking. You are courageous my friend,and I look forward to hearing about this new path you are embarking on.
    With love and admiration,
    Robin

  3. Thank you all for your encouraging words. I’m so thankful for the daily messages we receive via our inboxes – often, it feels as if the Spirit is speaking directly to my heart with the exact message I need.

  4. I’m so happy that you’ve found a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, you know what I mean. I know you were devastated how things ended with your project…..the old saying “when one door closes another opens” comes to mind. Go forward; this new community/class sounds just perfect for you!!!
    XOXO

  5. I am in a waiting place (after dashed hopes), too. It is not a comfortable place, yet it does seem to be a path God uses often. Death and resurrection, again, but in the realm of hopes and dreams. I am so glad you blogged about this. You obviously struck a chord. I am especially glad God sent you in another direction, and one never imagined, and can’t wait to see the resulting fruit in your life and ministry. Surprises and miracles are everywhere, aren’t they?!

  6. Oh my… I feel I have been in the exact places, have experienced so many “shockers” and slamming doors in recent years that it takes a minute to still yourself and see the light coming through the cracks. What a superb opportunity that you were willing to take. Your writing and experience is meaningful to me.

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