Have you lost your dream? Have you settled?

Growing up I wasn’t allowed to dream. Dreams were to be laughed at and considered a fantasy to never come true. Although there were movies about Cinderella and Snow White, in my life, the chance to live a normal life was looked down upon as if the very thought of making your life better meant that you were competing with someone else as to who is the better person. It wasn’t about being the better person. It wasn’t about poverty. It wasn’t about abuse. It was a generational idea ingrained in someone along the way that life never gets better and that anyone who tries to make it better should be stopped. It wasn’t about putting someone down or abandoning the people around you. It was about changing your circumstances for the better. It was about not letting life take you down.

There were no words of sympathy or even care. The lack of encouragement told me that I was nothing and that I can make nothing of my life. When I tried to reach for my dreams of becoming a better person, I was put down even more. And then, I was told I wasn’t good enough. I was a mistake. But something deep down inside me told me not to listen to these things and that I had a purpose in this world.

Trying to get out of my old life was like trying to get out of a lifelong abusive marriage. Have you ever known someone who couldn’t leave because they were far too afraid to. That was me. I lived in fear of everything. But it wasn’t a husband doing this. For my life to change, it would mean I would have to drag myself out of it with all the pain and suffering that would go along with it. It would mean I would have to claw my way out the deep, dark hole for which I had found myself.

But something deep inside of me said that there is light at the end of the tunnel once you enter it. I wouldn’t be able to see it right away, but soon the tunnel would begin to show some light. Even after long periods of a small amount of light, the darkness would envelope me again. But I kept trying. I kept pushing myself despite the pain I would experience as I pushed forward toward the light. Many days I felt like stopping and just ending everything, but something deep inside me said to keep going and that it was worth it. I was alone. I was afraid. I was alone in this world without the very people who should be helping me. Where were they? Where were the others in my life who would be friends who would run beside me in this long difficult race? They just weren’t there. They weren’t there because they were either not aware of my circumstances or they were people keeping me down.

In the beginning I didn’t push, because I didn’t know what to push towards. I couldn’t see, even beyond the hour. I was lost without a destination or even a direction. I came to a pivotal point in my life where I had to make a choice.

Do I keep going, or do I give up and let the world take me? I remember that day so vividly. I had very little fight in me. Someone came out of nowhere. It wasn’t a face or even a hand to help me stand. It was a voice. That voice told me I had a purpose. The calmness and lovingness from that voice strengthened me. It gave me instruction that I couldn’t help but trust. It was as if the voice also helped me to, not understand, but to feel safe in what I was told to do. I was being led in a safe direction.

I walked in that direction, and it was safe. Yes, I clawed my way out of that hole. In some ways I was alone, at least by the people I knew before the change. But God gave me new friends and a new family. This new family was not perfect, but they still loved on me more than the people of my past could have ever loved me.

Before the change, I was always settling. I never thought that I was worthy of anything great. I was nothing. But all that changed when I decided to no longer settle for anything. I made the choice to take control of my life and put it in the hands of someone who cared for me. Someone who would love me no matter what and not let me make any more mistakes that would cause me fall back into my old life.

In the direction I took, I was able to change my life, and I learned what love is and what it is not. I learned how to love myself. Although I struggle with caring too much about what people think of me, I know that I am somebody. I know that I have a purpose now. And one of the hardest things that I learned that I could not have ever learned anywhere else, I learned how to love those who hurt me. I know sometimes people we love put a wall up and don’t allow you to show them love. Sometimes you have to love people from afar. I learned how to do that. I also learned that there are some people you just should not let in. I learned how to discern who I should let in and who I should not.

So, you might wonder about this voice. This voice gave me very good advice. This voice was so loving, and its source, in 18 years has never never never let me down. His word has always been true to me. I have never regretted my decision. In fact, I would be so scared to take it back, because I know the difference. It would mean going back to the other side, and the other side is so very dark, there is nothing cool about it. It is suffering. It is pain. It is loneliness. It is a road I never want to walk again. It is a choice between being loved and unloved. I Choose Love. Love doesn’t let me down. Love stays true to me. Love can be counted on. Love is faithful. Love sometimes tells you no, but not because it doesn’t want you to be blessed. Love tells you no to keep you from the pain and suffering if you continue to do something. Love protects you and keeps you from harm. And sometimes that means that there is something you should not have or that there is a path you shouldn’t walk down. Love is a hedge of protection around you that keeps you within a safe distance. Love never let you have everything you want. So often what we want can actually destroy us. But love will guide us in a safe direction. You might say that this love does not exist. In the first 26 years of my life, I believed it existed, but I never experienced it. And those who showed love, weren’t persistent enough for this girl who was living in a very deep dark hole and found it hard to receive it.

You see, to feel loved, you also have to receive it. You will never feel love unless you open yourself up to it. But you must be careful to first learn what love really is before letting something called love in. Love has to prove itself.

Would you consider someone dying for you to be an act of love? Wouldn’t it be considered selfless? If you actually saw it take place would you consider it to be love? If you had the power to stop that person in giving himself up through death, would you stop him? I think sometimes we want love so bad from someone, that we fail to consider whether or not we are willing to love them too. There is only one love that conquers all. There’s only one love that has died but then lived so that you could truly know of that love. That love lives forever. It resides in the very heart of the only one in all of history who was ever able to complete it. His name is Jesus. He doesn’t want you to settle for what the world hands you. The things of this world seek nothing but to destroy you, but Jesus died so that you might live. You only need to receive that love. Say out loud who he is, and that you accept his love and you too will find yourself making progress out of that deep dark hole you find yourself in just like I once did. Don’t settle anymore for the pieces off the floor for the Kings Table. Instead take a seat at the king’s table and learn about who he is and why he is and experience the most faithful and just love mankind has ever known. Choose to accept Jesus as the love of your life, because he is truly faithful.

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