Here we are taking our first steps into 2023. Facing a new year can open the door to feelings of exhilaration and hopefulness, but also sometimes dread. Will you be facing a hard thing this year? Is a change coming for you in 2023, and like a toddler, your steps feel clumsy and uncertain? Maybe a dream has died and you find yourself wondering, will I survive this year?
In the spring of 2020, my husband and I were facing the hard change of empty nesting. Our daughter had graduated and would soon be heading off to college. Fullness was turning toward emptiness. We were headed toward a hard change and it felt like something was collapsing.
Our home, once full of noise, would echo with hollow silence. My memories of it are vivid.
I was lounging in my recliner with the steam of coffee warming my nose. Whimpering over a vacant future, Steve listened in silence with attentive eyes as I described how a door was closing on a season of motherhood. A permanent ending was approaching too quickly. Like a downspout gushing rain water, I needed to spew and release my feelings to Steve. He sat quietly and absorbed the steady stream of all my emotions.
When I finished babbling about all the bleakness, I noticed his face wasn’t furrowed like mine. I was distraught and yet he looked as if he was marveling. I wondered how in the world he could be so indifferent. His eyes sparkled as he took on the conversation. In simple terms and with a slight smile he said, “we’re gonna be fine”.
Steve was self-employed and almost our entire married life he worked the hours of an entrepreneur. He operated a business that demanded long hours and refused days off. It wasn’t unusual for him to work seven days straight during the busy months and it was rare to find a Saturday free. He and his business partner had worked diligently for years to build something remarkable. So, his view of our future was slightly different from mine.
With an adoring gaze, he continued the conversation telling me that he and his partner were making plans to scale back on the business hours. They were in talks to move in the direction of reducing their work loads. It wasn’t retirement talk, but plans were being crafted to move in a different direction. They were making a concerted effort to maintain sales, but no longer grow the business. He was highlighting the fact that finally, for the first time in 25 years, Saturday’s could become a play day for us.
I now understood the fondness he felt when thinking about our future. Empty nesting through this new lens changed everything. I began to grasp what Saturday’s could be. We fantasized of lazy mornings with coffee together, breakfast dates and traveling. The picture he had painted of empty nesting settled all my heart’s worry. Our marriage was opening up to something new and the thought of it pulled the sting out of empty nesting. Life 2.0 was on the horizon and I could taste its sweetness. Our daughter would go to college and we would be fine
I stood in shock, twenty days before my daughter headed off to college, staring out my dining room window. With my countenance drawn, I was forced to do the unthinkable. I was writing my husband’s obituary. Steve had died in a car accident on his way home from work.
Blown back by the flash of death, it felt like I was floating between shock and duties. The sudden blow left everything in my life hanging pendulous. Death had struck me and its force had me spinning. The dream of Life 2.0 was shot up and I watched all of its pieces fall around me. I was suspended in loss, grieving for the past and mourning for my future. There was a permanent and unalterable end to all my hopes and dreams.
As a believer what do we do, and how do we respond when dreams die?
Psalm 119:105 in the ESV Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. We need light when our path is dark. When dreams die, the world becomes dim. The sun no longer shines. This verse teaches us that even there, the Word is our guide. The Word of God is a light that will guide and comfort you.
Knowing that, our response should be to lean into the Word. When we get our head and heart into the Bible, we are interacting with a person. God’s Word is God speaking to us in human words! Allow his words to minister to your dead dreams. He is the God of resurrections, remember!
The Psalmist goes on in verse 107 and says this, “I am severely afflicted, give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” Battered by the hard change of a dead dream leaves you bewildered and disoriented. After Steve died, I had to move my daughter into college by myself. Steve wasn’t there. I no longer held shared memories of our daughter. I found myself alone and this wasn’t the dream. I, like the Psalmist, felt beaten down by life. But the Psalmist continues in the verse and prays for life. He prays to be revived by the only thing that can revive a weary soul, namely the Word of God. This teaches us that there is life 2.0 and it is accessed within the pages of God’s Word.
In John 14:6, Christ says this, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus alone fulfills the old testament promise that God is the source of Life 2.0. That life is eternal life for those who trust in Christ. Jesus is the “I am” promise. The “I AM” is the beginning of the promise that anchors the word to undisputed truth.
Jesus is the way, the truth and life. As I learn to submit my life to follow Christ, I am anchoring myself to deity. The undisputed truth to anchoring yourself to Christ is that it brings life to you. A life in Christ brings joy because it is the ONLY way to commune and fellowship with the Most High God. Christ makes God knowable to us. Christ alone allows us to experience God’s mercy and Holy character. It is what brings comfort and purpose. The good news is that when dreams die, Christ’s purposes don’t change. Despite what dies in your life, the “I AM” is eternal. The condition of Christ is immovable. Christ is permanent and eternal. Christ and his purposes for you are unalterable. What good news! Dreams may die but if you are anchored to Christ, you remain able to access his joy and his purpose.
Friend, if you find yourself dreading 2023, revisit the Gospel. Submerge your weary soul in the Word of God and rediscover LIFE 2.0! By the way, both my girls are away at college now and I am completely empty nested. God has given me life 2.0 and I found it in the pages of Scripture. Let that encourage you and make a commitment in 2023 to taste and see that the Lord is good – take a nibble out of Scripture, I dare ya!
Written by Amy Richards. As the Executive Ministry Director at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Amy helps assist with church-wide initiatives and events. She has two daughters, both are in college. Their world was shattered in 2020, when Amy’s husband of 26 years was killed in a car accident. As God’s love ministered to her broken heart, it became clear that Amy was being reframed for a purpose. That purpose evolved when she founded ps119 Ministries at Tabernacle in Decatur, Illinois. The ministry’s mission is to help women who have suffered loss find God’s purpose and live a life with meaning-filled activity. Connect with her: @PS119Ministries