The Life I Dreamed

The other day, a friend on Facebook posted, "Are you living the life you dreamed?"  This question has captivated my thoughts for the last few days as I have pondered my life and the dreams I've had for myself.

Am I living the life I dreamed?

Well, I've always had the dream of helping others.

When I was dealing with depression in 2014, I told my bishop that I wanted to get better, simply because I wanted to help others dealing with similar struggles.  I thought once I was "better," "healed," "fixed," etc. then I could finally help others, and that was my motivation for getting help for myself (along with feeling better for my family).

I remember one evening praying to God and asking Him to take away this struggle.  I sincerely prayed, "Heavenly Father, I want to serve.  I want to love.  I want to help.  But this trial is getting in my way."  I begged, "If you just take it away, I promise to reach out, to serve, to love, and to help others going through this.  I could do so much more if it was just taken away."

I continued to pray this same prayer to no avail.  The sorrow wasn't lifted.  My heart wasn't made whole.  I still struggled with daily tasks, so anything above that was nearly impossible.  And my frustration grew daily.

Why wouldn't God just take this away so I could use it to do good?  Surely I could do 100 times more if the burden of a heavy heart wasn't weighing me down.

After a couple of years of praying and begging God to relieve me of this weight so that I could do good with it, my depression lifted.  But I don't think it was in answer to my prayer.  I think it was in preparation for what God wanted to teach me.

Since that time, I have learned that I don't have to get better to help others.  In fact, the reality that I am not "better" yet has allowed me to do more than I ever dreamed of doing.  I may not have physical strength to offer, I may not be able to bring dinners to everyone who needs them or babysit every time someone needs help or clean someone's house for them (you should see my house... haha), but I have my heart to offer-- my understanding, my compassion for those struggling, my talents, and my love.  I have my own story to give, my life experiences in their raw, honest form.

And while it's hard for me not to wish that I could help without feeling these painful emotions or that I could offer something other than my understanding of mental illness, I have grown to feel thankful that God knew not to take away my struggle when I asked (and sometimes still ask).

Am I living the life I dreamed?

I'm certainly not living my dreams as I envisioned them, but I would say that I am living something greater than what I dreamed, because God saw more in me than I saw in myself, and He found a way to take the little I have to offer and turn it into something more.  He has changed my life in a way that reaches beyond anything I could have done and has made my fondest dreams a beautiful reality.

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