‘Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’
Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
So, it’s that time of year when we were all supposed to make resolutions to be better versions of ourselves, and usually have failed miserably by this point in January. It has become such a standard expectation, that even when we don’t really subscribe to the idea, we still find ourselves having made half promises to be and do better, and then when we fail, brush off the disappointment with a ‘well I don’t really believe in making New Year’s Resolutions anyhow’. So why does it still seem to get under our skin?
I think that we have a God given desire to dream, to realise these dreams, and to speak them into existence. As we commit to voicing them, we in turn, become more open to receiving what we dream of, always supposing that we have surrendered any idea that we can ‘make it happen’.
I don’t know about you, but I am a natural control freak, I like the idea that I am in charge of my destiny and that I am both capable and determined enough, to bend the world around me into the shape I require. Yet experience has taught me that this is not so.
I can no more bend the world into the shape which suits me, any more that I can force someone to love or like me, or stop time. And if I really think about this, I wouldn’t want to. Just as I wouldn’t want to be forced but invited, I can only invite the world to join me on my adventures, only invite someone to know me, trusting that friendship may follow. If it were forced, then it wouldn’t last, and it wouldn’t be true, and at some point everything would come crashing down on me, and I would be left ineptly attempting to rebuild and sustain the wreckage.
However, I can learn to line up my thoughts with the one who does promise to hold me, who draws out the poison and allows my wounds to heal perfectly. The one who calls me to be part of an adventure, one far bigger than myself, for which I have been designed and designated a strategic role to play.
I can invest time, care and love into the relationships with which I have been entrusted.
I can learn to speak life and blessing over my time, my dreams and my relationships, and I can learn to trust – a really hard word which requires so much surrender and comparatively little tangible ‘doing’ – that what is good and best for me, and God’s glory, will come to fruition at exactly the right time, in the right way. This is sometimes SO hard to wait for.
I went to see Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre in London at the end of November, and it blew me away, something which I find happens all too rarely. I watched Imelda Staunton give a heart-stopping performance as Momma Rose, and found myself wanting to remain there, in that bubble of theatrical magic, for a very long time. I also looked at the role, and felt my heart say “That’s mine, I can do that, in time. I want to do that.” Suffice to say, it has been a very long time since I felt so strongly about a role.
My heart was moved by the quality of the show and performances, and by the subject matter – the dignity of people, and the desperate cries of mothers and daughters in pain and yearning to be loved, unconditionally. And I once again felt that deep desperation I used to feel all the time, especially pre-drama school, to be who I am called to be and to give life to the huge potential and unstoppable capacity to dream I have inside of me.
I have barely stopped talking about Gypsy since.
I received the sound track for Christmas, and when I missed the live showing, my wonderful husband found it on BBC iplayer and downloaded it for me, so I have had the joy of watching it again several times.
This has been both to re-capture and better understand something of what happened to my heart that night. Because it wasn’t simply the joy of seeing a great piece of theatre and a masterful performance, it wasn’t even the connection with a cry of brokenness that is international and sometimes overwhelming. But it was a God moment. Not the show itself, amazing as it was, but one of those moments when God pulls you up out of sleep, into a full wakefulness, and shows you something of his purpose for your life. When He reveals something deep in your spirit which either you never knew was there, or in this case, had had to allow yourself to let go of.
Like being pulled out of sleep at any time, it is uncomfortable and exciting and surprising all at once. I am feeling more alive, more tender and more emotional. That desperate passion which had been building over the past few months feels as though it has come to a head, and I am not sure what to do with it. I miss acting and working as an actress more than I can express, and yet have willingly laid it down in front of a God who made me that way, knowing and trusting that he will either return it to me better than I could have dreamed, or given me something even better instead.
I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my children, and see the legacy which I am leaving written in and through their lives as WAY more valuable than anything I could achieve on stage or in film. I truly enjoy being a full time mother, and am committed to being a home educator because we are convinced that this is the best way forward for our family. I have never once missed working (or the hope of work), more than I have delighted in and willingly given my heart to spending my days walking alongside three amazing children, and helping them navigate what adventures and purpose they are called to. And I have repeatedly asked God to take away my desire for acting if it is not his purpose for me.
Yet it hasn’t gone. It has periodically reared its head, and now feels more present than ever. I can only assume that I still have acting adventures to come.
But I have no idea of what these are, how they will look, or when they will be. I have no idea how these dreams of acting, marriage, motherhood and home educating will work together, but I know the God who makes the impossible possible, so I am certain that He knows how.
Therefore my plan, if you can call it such, is not to try and bend opportunities and people into the shape I am dreaming of. But instead to hand all of this over to the one who is eternal and therefore knows the best time and way for all of this to occur. HE can shoulder all of the responsibility needed to see these dreams called into being, and I shall ask Him to keep my heart and eyes open to see the moments which need seizing, plus the courage to seize them. I will continue to live and walk in His grace, building my relationships and seeing my family grow. This is the only way I can find peace, so watch this space.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zecharaiah 4:10 (NLT)