Do Dreams Have Expiration Dates?

There’s finally a moment of calm in my life and I know exactly what to do with it. I walk down the long, winding hallway of my heart and look at all the doors. Some are wide open and have been since I was a child, others have only been opened recently. There are closed doors that need to be opened, but for various reasons they don’t budge very well. So I leave them be, knowing a time will come when they will open freely.

I finally find what I’m looking for ~ the door to my soul. It isn’t closed, but it isn’t wide open either. When you become a caregiver, the door to your soul tends to close and you must fight to keep it open. I step inside this vast room with one thing in mind. I am looking for my dreams. They’ve been in here for as long as I can remember, but they aren’t in plain sight.


When I was a child, my dreams seemed larger than life. They burst inside me like fireworks, and I didn’t hide them. I drew pictures of them, journaled about them and even made plans around them. But then life happened. Things I never planned on happened. To my family. To me. And they could no longer take a prominent place in my heart. I didn’t know how to hold onto them as a caregiver, so my dreams were pushed aside. I pushed them aside.


Now I’m standing here looking for their hiding place. There is so much color and texture in this room, it’s hard not to get distracted. But I finally spot them. They are still beautiful to me, still make me happy and excite me just as they did when I was a child. I sit down and begin sorting through them, like an enormous box of Belgian chocolates, each one unique and special. There is a lot here and I’m trying to decide what to look at first.

But then the phone rings.


Immediately, I put down the box and I’m drawn out of this sacred room and back into the present. Fountainview, the nursing home my Father has lived in for nearly a year is calling. His nurse tells me that he’s running a low-grade fever, doesn’t seem to be feeling well and the doctor has ordered tests and put him on a preventative antibiotic in case he has a urinary tract infection. I ask questions and inform my family, pray and wait on the test results.


When I moved in with my parents over 10 years ago, I quickly learned that a caregiver puts the needs and desires of her loved one above herself. The more the disease progresses, the more there is to do. It’s like you’re standing on a huge ship with a very small hole in it. It registers in your brain that you’re sinking, but it happens so slowly that at first you think there must be a mistake. You turn around and a year has passed. You look down and find the soles of your feet surrounded by water so you grab the closest bucket and start bailing. You turn around again and another year has passed. Now the water is up to your ankles. It never recedes; at best it rises slowly. Once you had two arms. Now you have eight tentacles and you’ve become very adept at bailing.

It also feels like a war. You are a soldier on the frontlines of the biggest battle of your life. Your loved ones are in danger so you don’t consider walking away. There are days you want to, but family is too important to you, and you are not a quitter. Once in a blue moon, you get a break. Someone provides respite and you’ve earned a three-day pass from the battle. So you step aside momentarily to breathe.


And this is when you think about your dreams.


You pry the door to your soul open and look for them. As you become reacquainted, you can sense the joy beginning to bubble up inside your heart, almost like a child on Christmas morning. You ponder them, visualize a world where they are front and center and your dreams are taking flight. No matter how little time you’re able to spend with your dreams, you still emerge refreshed, rejuvenated. Centered.


Before you know it, your three-day pass is over and you find yourself back on the frontlines. One minute you’re walking around Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with wonder and fascination. The next minute all eight tentacles are spiraling around like a Ferris wheel, each one holding something different with its own task.


So what does a caregiver do with her dreams? Does she give up on them?

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and I’ve found it’s essential to hold onto your dreams just as tightly as you hold onto your role as a caregiver. We don’t like to think about it that way. We put our lives and our dreams on hold to help our loved ones. But caregivers have a tendency to think that making our dreams a priority is selfish.


There’s a problem with that logic though, a simple question you need to ask yourself. Where did your dreams come from?


My eye color and height didn’t come from me. Neither did my build, my tastebuds or my skin color. They all came from my Creator. He fashioned me like a unique snowflake, crystallized in my Mother’s womb. There is no one like me. He picked up the brush, carefully chose the colors and painted me just the way that I am. And when He breathed life into me, He poured dreams into my heart. Dreams come from God.

And if He had a reason for creating me with likes, dislikes, my own personality and temperament, then He has a plan for my dreams. Sure, I wish my dreams had come to fruition years ago. But I’ve learned the best thing to do is give my dreams back to Him.


God is not bound by time. He created time and I must live within it. But He makes all things new. And He has this beautiful way of bringing our dreams to reality in a way that far exceeds anything we could have ever imagined. He gives them back to us on a grander scale because His dreams for us are bigger than our own. They are not different; they are better. How do I know this to be true? Because of His incredible promises that He always fulfills.


Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7

There will be a day when my dreams will no longer be hidden behind the door to my soul. Like a wide-eyed toddler lined up on Main Street in Disney World, I’ll be bursting with excitement as I watch the parade of my dreams come to pass in front of me. I’ll be riveted by the spectacular display of color, lights and music, and I’ll be pinching myself as I watch God’s loving hand make all things new.


See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

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