when life isn’t like you dreamed.

It’s 5:18am and I have not gone to bed yet. There’s a mountain of homework that needs doing and a pile of clothes that need folding, but in this moment, I choose to neglect them both in order to write the words on my heart this hour.

You’ll have to forgive me for my lack of eloquence, for I don’t always have the best way of wording things, and lack of sleep only adds fuel to that fire.

I’m sitting up in my bed thinking of all the different ways I pictured my life turning out. I think of the boy I thought I’d marry at 15; the GSP letter I thought I’d miraculously receive in the mail (despite never having applied for GSP). I think of my plans to attend college when I graduated high-school at 16 and how I swore to myself that I’d never be a wandering college student.

I’m sitting here this morning looking back on the dreams of a driven and determined girl, laughing at how exactly none of them have come to pass. Not a single one.

I bet dads do this too. When they’re sitting behind a desk doing paperwork when they always dreamed of preaching, teaching or traveling.

I bet moms do this too. When they’re elbow deep in laundry or baking treats for their second grader’s classmates. I wonder if that degree you worked so hard to earn feels somewhat useless as you consider how you never took courses in changing diapers or raising littles. Or maybe its the working Momma who always dreamt of being home with her babies, but the Lord has her at a desk, or running through hospital hallways tending to the needs of everyone other than her own family.

I bet college grads do this too, fresh out of school with that hard earned degree in hand, and absolutely no sense of direction, no idea what to do now.

The truth is, I’m sure we all do this at some point, where we look back on unfulfilled dreams and unanswered prayer and feel a sense of failure. Because we all like to think we’re the ones God has big things in store for; we all want to believe that our wild aspirations for greatness will come true, but the reality is that most of us will just live ordinary lives.

I struggle with this. I’ve always thought and believed that God has big, world-changer type things up His sleeve for me. I’ve waited and prayed through years of the average life for some grand sort of breakthrough, some giant revelation of what He’s calling me to do with my life. But there has been no burning bush, no giant signal from the Lord that I am soon to embark on my journey toward fame and fortune.

Yet there has been this quiet call, this deep stirring in my soul to love the people He’s given me here, to serve the people He’s given me now, to learn from and lean on the community He’s so sovereignly placed me into today. And maybe that’s why we wake up one day with feelings of failure, because we’ve failed to be faithful where the Lord has planted us.

Maybe success doesn’t look like a fancy title, a high-paying job or a red carpet; maybe it looks a little messier. I see greatness in the young, college grad with free time and hands to serve. I see greatness in the Dad spending time in the backyard teaching his boy to catch a baseball. I see greatness in the messy bun atop the tired mama’s head. Maybe it’s these little things, these menial, mundane tasks, that add up to be the big things we always dreamed of. Perhaps doing big things for Jesus can be done one expense report, one diaper change, one graded paper at a time.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still contending for some pretty bold things, but today, my focus is shifted away from myself and onto the One who made me for His glory. I think on His promises to go before and stand beside me, to faithfully lead me into His best because His ways are higher. He promises to equip me; He promises me fullness of joy in His presence. He promises I will find Him when I seek Him.

 So seek Him, I will, as I choose today to rejoice in the hope that

 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

 He always has; He always will.