What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
—A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
That night after I watched the horrible movie (and I raged at my husband as the representative of all Men), I laid in bed and sobbed until I couldn’t breathe through my nose. While he drifted off into oblivious sleep, I considered.
That bitter, unforgiving itchbay I see in the mirror is only part of the picture. What I really am is a ball of pain, wrapped in multiple layers of self-preservation, and finished with an outer shell of spikes, rusty nails and barbed wire. Sort of like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, except a little bigger and slightly less delicious.
I sat up in bed, partly so I could breathe again, but mostly to talk with Jesus. I said something like, “This is what I am, but it’s not what I want to be. It’s so deeply entrenched and so much a part of my DNA that I don’t know how to change. What am I supposed to do with all this pain? What can you do with me?”
Then I remembered a dream I used to have: There was an abstinence ministry in my heart. I dreamt of helping, loving, encouraging girls and young women, talking to them about abstinence, helping them live it out. I was willing to let my pain be like manure: Stinky, yes. But fertilizer for something much better. Funk with a purpose.
Then the weeds came. “You’re not even good at talking to people.” “Why would a teenager listen to you?” “What if it hurts?” “Who has time?” “What if it fails?” I was afraid, so instead of a garden, the pain became a landfill. The dream got buried under a bunch of distractions and life and crapola. Eventually and so slowly that I didn’t notice, it disappeared from sight. But it still stunk, except it stunk for no good reason.
Okay, I’m scared! I think I’m more scared now than I was before. Those same weeds are there, but they look more like trees now.
There’s the first step. It’s a doozy! Not sure I want to climb yet. Just … gimme a sec to mentally prepare.