“If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.” (vi)
I have to admit, the obstacle of love has been an excuse of mine for a long time. Love has justified why I couldn’t follow my dreams, why I couldn’t pursue my personal calling beyond the classroom, why I couldn’t take the gift God has given me and share it with the world. However, it was not real love that justified this inactivity; it was dysfunctional love.
I have lived in a dysfunctional world of my own making for far too long. I have said no to my own needs and purpose, so I can say yes to someone else’s. I put my dreams on hold for my husband, my children, and my students, not because they asked me to, but because I thought that’s what a loving wife and mother and a dedicated teacher does. I didn’t realize that my self-denial was hurting everyone involved.
Please let me make this clear: I’m not talking about hedonistic pursuits; I’m talking about pursuing a person’s purpose in life. There is a difference, and our world is suffering because it is blind to that difference.
If I never pursued my purpose in life, I would be an unhappy, shell of a person. Now that I am living my purpose and being who I am supposed to be—who God created me to be—I am showing real love to my family. My joy is sensed by those around me. I become a role model for joy. I promote the pursuit of joy.
Living with true purpose has another beautiful benefit: It promotes the healing of the world’s dysfunction. We have too many messages that tell us to do what makes us happy but then stops there. It can’t just be about me and my happiness. If I am not creating a loving home for my family, then I cannot be happy and neither can my family. If I am not encouraging the pursuit of dreams in my classroom, then I cannot be a teacher of value. I find my true happiness by sharing my purpose with others. I waited too long to discover this important truth, yet I have arrived at just the right moment.
This truth has helped me find my voice and has improved my understanding of love. Through writing I am living out my dreams and extending my purpose in this world. Through writing I have discovered who I am and what’s important to me. I have more love to give to myself and others because I know I have value now; I know that I can bring love and joy to the world because I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Through writing I have discovered how to forgive and love my father; I have solidified my stance on the importance of imagination and belief in self; I am healing my relationship with my daughter; I have been able to shower those I love with appreciation; I have shared my pain over a suicide and brought healing to those in need; and I have inspired others to be strong through difficult situations.
I have been so afraid to put time into writing because I thought my family would suffer; I thought they would feel neglected. Writing takes time. How could my family cope while I’m tucked away somewhere with my computer?
The truth is real love will understand. If my husband doesn’t support my need to write, my need to pursue my dreams, then he doesn’t truly love me. I am thankful that he does support my writing; he is proud of me, which motivates him to seek his own purpose. I was afraid that Ian would feel neglected. There are times when he has to learn patience (which isn’t a bad thing) while I’m writing; but he knows that when I’m done, I am focused on him. We have quality time that we both enjoy. I’m also a better parent and teacher because I know what’s important now. I won’t teach Ian or my students my brand of dysfunction any longer.
The result of this new me who has disinterred my dreams and chosen to pursue them: I have more love to give. I am a better role-model for my family and students. I follow my dreams and share them with my sphere of influence. I am content because I know where I need to be and what I need to do. Love is my impetus, and I can measure true love by those who accompany me on that journey. I will never again use love as an excuse for inactivity but rather use it as a springboard for fulfilling my purpose and encouraging others to do the same.
Understanding real love has created a fearlessness within me that seems to transfer easily to my son.