Dreams Don’t Come True: A Letter to My Seven Year Old Self

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Dear Precious Seven Year Old Girl,

You are magical. Despite the aches of life, you light up at the sight of puppies and relish the thought of running through a wide open field. You have so many dreams. No matter how many times you have felt less-than-worthy, you still dream of a life filled with love-overflowing. You are able to hold onto this peace in the midst of the chaos that is your life because you believe and trust in God. 

You dream of being a mom. Two daughters, right?  You write about them in stories. You name them and think deeply, already, about how much you will love them.

You’ll have them. But, you will raise them alone, in a life riddled with uncertainty.

You think that your life will one day look like a medley of all the best parts of adult life that you see around you. 

It won’t. There will be a white picket fence, but it will crumble. 

You still believe (thanks, Disney) that Prince Charming will rescue you from this life. 

He won’t. 

You see your future as a teacher, who runs the most perfect classroom.

Instead, you will be plagued by constant feelings of imperfection.

You think that you will get married and be married, forever.

Wrong again. You will get married, but it will end in a way that is both painfully slow and terrifying abrupt. 

That’s right, little one, dreams do not come true. As you come to that realization, your faith will waiver. As it waivers, your peace will become fragile, your path will deviate, your legs will wobble, and your heart will fragment.

The truth is that you will feel constantly out-of-place, stuck somewhere between a super-involved, volunteer mom and an over-worked, out-of-touch mom. 

You will build, and the world will tear it down.

You will work hard, and still lose.

You will pray, and it will feel unanswered.

You will tell yourself that you are worthy, and you won’t believe it.

You will be told that you are smart, and you won’t internalize it.

You will be afraid, most of the time. 

Your life will be messy, complicated, and consistently stressful…on the good days.

You dream that God will always care for you. Right now, as you read this letter about your life, that probably feels the least true of any of your beliefs. But, He will. Trust Him.

You see, dear girl, dreams are fantasies that we create to escape the world around us. God’s trust in and plans for us are real, and they are so much better than dreams. Trust Him.

It is true that not all that you build will last, but you will learn to be thankful for the things that don’t work out as much as you are for those that do. Trust Him.

Hard work will not always manifest in the way you envision, but God’s work will always shine through. Soon enough, you will realize that your dreams are shaped by what the world sees in you, but God’s plans are shaped by His knowledge of your heart. And when heart work (God’s work through you) pays off, that hard work will feel almost meaningless. Trust Him.

It is scary to think that you will pray for so many things that will never manifest, but you will take solace and find the most meaningful peace in the relationship you are building with your God even when the two of you don’t agree. Trust Him.

You won’t always feel pretty enough, good enough, smart enough, or really “enough” of anything for this world. But be thankful that you kept praying through what felt like unanswered prayers, because you will be enough for your God and people who seek His glory. Trust Him.

You will live with a lot of fear. Some of that fear will carry over from the life you are living now and you will accumulate plenty more reasons to be afraid as you pass through this world. But, take heart young girl, it is your fear that will fuel your strength. You will be so strong, stronger than any adult you know now, and stronger than any adult should have to be. Every single time you look through your worldly fears with the eyes of a child of God, you will grow stronger, and that strength will make you a person who can feed strength to others in their time of need. Trust Him.

As you may have guessed by now, you will get married right out of college to the nicest guy imaginable and feel like the luckiest girl in the world. You will focus so much on creating that marriage, that picture perfect life that you’ve dreamed of, that you will forget (and even shun) what God has planned for your life. It won’t be until everything in that picturesque life has revealed itself to be only a life-likeness, and is shattered beyond recognition, that you will call out to God again, and He will be there. He will test your faith by sending your best friend, the magical love you deserve, at the most unpredictable time and in the most unorthodox form. Your love will be cloaked in unexpected opinions and unfamiliar life choices, and you won’t have much in common (on the surface). But your love will know God, encourage your love of God, and assist in the cultivation of what God puts on your heart. It definitely won’t be what you expect, it will be more. Trust Him.

You’ll be a single mom to the daughters you now carry on your heart. I won’t lie and tell you that will be an easy life, but your girls will be more spectacular than your little heart can currently comprehend. They will be witty, empathetic, curious, and resilient. They will be the center of your whole world, exactly as you see it now. But, you cannot currently fathom the way that looking at them will make everything else in the world disappear and reveal the face, power and everlasting love of God. Trust Him.

Yes, your life will be messy, complicated, and consistently stressful. The scariest part is that it won’t look anything like the dreams you have now. But fear not, God won’t ever leave you. The mess will be from a life being lived to the fullest with little time for concern for appearances. The complications will arise because you will be so abundantly blessed that you feel incapable of attending to the worldly details. The stress will come for the enormity of opportunity you will be given to follow your heart where God leads it. Trust Him.

You will not be living in the dream, you will be living in the real moments. Real moments are tricky to navigate, saturated with emotion, and almost entirely unpredictable – just as God made them. Trust Him.

Little one, you will forever be magical and you will forever dream. But, if I can offer you any advice, 30 years removed, it is to trust where God leads your heart without an ounce of concern for the path the world dictates to you.  Be you in every way, abandon dreams of certitude and perfection, trust Him in every moment. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

Dreams don’t have to come true. God’s plans are better.


You, at 37.

-A. Smith 

When Love Isn't Enough


I can still hear the words “Show grace and forgiveness” echoing in my mind as I asked God once again “Why me?” It was just two years ago when my world came crumbing in around me after the news of my husband’s infidelity throughout our marriage.  I remember the moment my knees hit the floor with tears streaming down my face, crying out to the one that was suppose to protect me. Yet here I am facing the same question again. Shaken with all the unknowns. Facing the question of love and forgiveness for the second time in our marriage. 

When the news first came to light, I felt a level of brokenness I had never experienced.  The feeling of suffocation was debilitating. I never wanted this and to hear from my husband this brokenness all started from his deep routed issues with pornography. I felt so betrayed, yet still had such an overwhelming sense of love for him. I couldn’t understand how I could still love someone after they caused me so much pain. I knew this love must only flow from a place greater than myself. I wanted more for my life. I wanted to know that I did everything I could to save the marriage I chose so many years ago. I fought with all the grace that was given to me to save what was left of my marriage, pleading with my husband to save himself from the path he was heading down if he walked away from our marriage. I knew what the Lord had laid on my heart to do and I wasn’t going to give up on my marriage without a fight.

After a period of separation, we were both ready to reenter the marriage. I didn’t know at the time, but I was headed down the path that would lead me to the greatest freedom and struggle of my life so far.  Over the next two years I faced much opposition as I defended my forgiveness of a man that didn’t deserve it. Friends and family thought I must be in denial if I could move forward in a marriage built on lies. I myself wondered it myself many times, but always felt a gentle reminder that I was exactly where I was suppose to be. I had to consistently pray against worry and fear and learn to live in trust.

What I learned during this time is that it wasn’t God’s plan for me to experience this pain, but he allowed it happen. Therefore, it must have a greater purpose even if we can’t see it in the moment of the struggle. The hurt that I healed from during this time of restoration allowed me to truly understand forgiveness. The bitterness I laid down and walked away from taught me freedom. The love I was able to extend showed me a picture of God’s grace. These things do not come from our human nature, but only when we open ourselves up to be used for a higher purpose. The choice to forgive was only the beginning, but it prepared me for my future.

I wish I could say my marriage had a happily ever after, but that is not the case. The truth I learned is sometimes love isn’t enough to save a person from their own free will. There is always a possibility for hurt, because the ones we love are only human. It’s how we choose to respond to that hurt and trust in a greater purpose that allows us to move forward freely. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. I chose love.

I now have a beautiful son to remind me of the love I once shared with my husband, but that love wasn’t enough for him overcome his own brokenness. So once again, I ask God “Why me?” I did everything I felt the Lord led me to do and it still ended in divorce. I could choose bitterness and turn my back towards the Lord, but I am further down the road now and I understand “the why”. Sometimes we have to experience difficult things so we can grow into the people we are designed to be. The Lord has not abandoned us and it hurts Him to see his children walk through such pain. There is something wonderful on the other side of your struggle. It might be out of sight but His promises declare it is there for those that call on Him. Had I walked away from my marriage the first time, I would have missed out on so many beautiful lessons. I would still be devastated by the pain and taking that into my future. I would have been left with so many questions. Instead, I am moving forward whole and free knowing that I am growing into the person I am designed to be. I know not everyone’s marriage gets a second chance, but having the opportunity taught me that even ones best intentions fall flat when we don’t fully surrender to the Lord. There are still many lessons ahead and the hard days will still come, but I now know there was purpose for my pain. Whatever your story is and wherever you are on your journey, it is never too late to choose forgiveness and surrender your own efforts. It is the first step towards claiming your freedom. Be free and choose love. There is a purpose for your pain and you are not alone.