Where is God in the death of our dreams?

I am grateful to all of you who are corresponding with me and who are letting me know what strikes you about my book, A Beautiful Disaster. Your insights and correspondence are a gift. We are on this journey together. I am thankful to God that he has redeemed experiences I wouldn’t welcome or wish upon anyone else. No one welcomes disorientation, loneliness, loss, suffering, the death of a dream, or boredom – moments of quiet desperation or those full of sound and fury. But, God can use our God-haunted wilderness experiences. He can redeem them. Although in the middle of such experiences it is the last thing we want to hear and often bad pastoral care to say that to another. It’s hard to think about redemption and resurrection in the midst of our pain and grief and disappointments. It’s only afterward that we might glimpse redemption and resurrection. If not in this life, in the rest of life eternal.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my book, “The Death of a Dream.” Below the excerpt are some responses to my book and to Chapter 8 in particular.

From A Beautiful Disaster:

“I simply seek to posit that I don’t believe God allows the horrors of living nightmares just to teach us spiritual lessons.

But God does prune those of us who are following Jesus. Jesus says so. Pruning is necessary to keep plants healthy and to keep them from succumbing to diseases. Pruning helps plants grow and gives direction to growth. And pruning helps plants bear more fruit. Likewise, God prunes us to keep us healthy, fruitful, growing, and moving in a certain direction. It’s a direction he has in mind. In John 15:1–2, Jesus tells us, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” The more fruitful we are, the more pruning will occur.

It’s hard to think of the wilderness experience as a pruning experience. But at times it is. Pruning is always painful because it involves loss. It can involve loss of good, luxuriant, and fruitful branches in our lives. When God begins to prune these fruitful branches, we seldom recognize it as pruning. We are aghast that God would mess with something so fruitful, something that brings us joy. His actions hardly ever make sense to us at the time. We may even consider the pruning a punishment or a curse. The pruning experience always reminds me that God’s ways are not our ways. I confess that I sometimes wish my ways were his ways. I really do.”

This is a response to my book from Pastor Mario Alejandre in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can follow him @U2gospel on Twitter. He and a small group are using my book for a book study. He writes:

“I wanted to give you a quick update regarding the book. The response has been ALL positive. I was approached on Sunday by a friend who missed our first class but signed up for it. We got her the book and she sought me out. She comes from a fractured marriage and severe physical challenges: She was beaming. “I feel like I’m reading my story. Except, for me, I was hiding in my closet reading scripture instead of under a bed. I LOVE this book.” My words cannot convey her body language, but let me try: It looked like someone who had been given permission to feel loved in the midst of their own experiences. There was a sense of joy and comfort in knowing others knew what she had experienced.

I just got this update from T: I’ve been bawling. This chapter on the death of a dream is heavy. She talks about having to move when she wanted her kids to grow up and be raised in the community they loved but how God moved them far. She talked about a real loneliness and depression that set in because of it but how she can now see why. 

As for me, I meant what I said about this book feeling like being in a conversation between you, Scripture, the desert fathers/mothers, Nouwen, etc. I find myself feeling haunted and hopeful all at once as I consider God’s presence in our wilderness.” 

Our next class is July 30th.

Click to the right (or on this link right here) and you can order A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness from Byron and Beth Borger at Hearts and Minds Books. They are independent booksellers that I admire and support. You can also pick it up at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

1 thought on “Where is God in the death of our dreams?

  1. I’ll be very interested to read your book, Marlena. I’m surprised at the overlap between our books with us both exploring broken dreams (http://sheridanvoysey.com/resurrectionyear) and wilderness experiences (http://sheridanvoysey.com/022-after-the-wilderness-a-new-beginning-podcast). As my wife and I have discovered since Resurrection Year was released, there are a lot of people needing hope as they walk through these two experiences, and your book will no doubt bring solace.

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