[Guest Post by Rachel Berry – I met her at the San Diego Christian Writers Fall Conference a few years ago, and it’s been so exciting to watch her take off as a writer and woman of God. If you, like Rachel, have ever experienced the death of a dream — be encouraged today by her story!]
I drove home from church on Sunday, a beautifully normal January Sunday, and my sister said, “Rachel–a year ago today you would’ve been competing for Miss America.”
I imagine the look on my face involved squinted, pensive eyes and a smirk of disbelief (the kind siblings give one another) as I questioned her statement.
Had only a year’s time passed?
I counted the months, double checked the date. Sure enough, it had only been a year, but in my heart it felt like a distant memory. I thought about who I was a year ago: bitter, crushed, mad at God, questioning why He allowed me to win Miss Oregon only to have my eligibility disputed and my crown resigned while the city of Portland watched the whole heartbreak unfold, persecuting me with hateful insults?
I knew He was God– sovereign, unmoved, with me through it all, but I sure had no idea how this fit into my life plan.
My life plan.
I had my future planned out following Miss Oregon, confident my year in the public eye would open doors for my career as a journalist. But that was my plan for my life–not God’s plan, a truth so clear to me now, but so foggy just a year ago. I thought about who I am now: at peace, joy-filled, owner of an identity apart from the world, a Seminary student, excited about the ministry dreams God has planted in me, eager to walk daily trusting Him.
His life plan for me.
Who I was then and who I am now–they are not even close to similar, yet how could so much change occur in a years time? The memories that were so painful, the betrayal of those I trusted, the experience of pursuing a dream of 7 years, crushed — I was certain I’d feel the sting for years to come.
In fact, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to fully forgive, move forward, and find a dream as exciting as what I had.
Truthfully, I expected God to heal me slowly. People had told me “time will heal” and “it will take time,” and I agreed.
Had God given me an accelerated healing?
Or had I limited His healing ability to the world’s timetable?
Without realizing it, I had. He answered the cries of my heart–He gave me new dreams, purpose, a restored identity, and a much deeper understanding of who He is. Walking through a storm taught me about my Anchor.
Now that I can reflect on the storm, I see God allowed that painful season a year ago to demolish my foundation. I had been building those dreams for myself for many years, so the destruction process wasn’t quick or easy.
But it was necessary.
In order for God to do a new thing and allow His dreams to steer the course of my life, I had to surrender the kingdom I was building for His Kingdom to be built in my heart. The process was painful but He was with me each step. And the healing — well, He delivered just what He promised.
“A crown of beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
Rachel Berry is a dreamer who loves encouraging other 20-somethings to pursue God’s dreams for their life. She is pursuing a Masters in Theology and Ministry from Fuller Seminary and feels blessed to lead women’s Bible studies at USC and work with Quarter Life Conference. Rachel loves tap dancing, Jay Leno, sushi, and lives in Los Angeles where she is authoring her first book, Launch: Building Dreams that Take Off. Connect with Rachel at http://perseveringdreams.com/.