The last two nights I have had dreams about my soon to be ex-husband. Intense, vivid dreams. Dreams that have rattled my heart, forcing my head to have to work over time and remind myself of reality.
Maybe it’s because it’s Christmas and this is my first one as a single mom. Maybe it’s the empty space that allows my heart to dream. I don’t know what it is, but every now and then this happens. This thing where although I am healing and moving forward, although my heart is getting stronger and my head is in charge, I still have to fight my way out of the grip of a dream. To claw my way back to reality.
The truth is, even when I had him, I didn’t have him. I missed him even when he was sitting right next to me. My heart hurt even when his arms were around me. Because I never really had him. I had an illusion. A dream.
How can you miss something you never had? Someone you never had?
That life, the one in my dream, leaves me lost at times. I want to believe I can have both. Reality and the dream. But they don’t match up. They will never match up. Not with him. And although I have let that go, every now and then I feel the knotting of my heart and I struggle to undo it again.
The ripping apart of a love is never a clean break. The tearing of a heart is always messy. Brutal. It feels savage at times, the rawness of a broken heart. Even when you manage to gather yourself up off the floor and piece yourself back together, there are always little pieces missing. Tiny chips of shattered hope that may never get filled in.
That love chipped away pieces of my heart, and though it is healing, every now and then, without warning, I am reminded of those missing pieces. And they hurt.
So I wake up in the morning with an ache in my chest I can’t explain, and I have to figure out what to do with this thing. This thing I wanted but will never have. This person I loved but who is nothing more than a dream. This thing that leaves me completely breathless if I think about it too long.
I stumbled upon this quote and simply could not have said it any better myself.
“That life. This life. It looks as if you can have both. I mean they’re both right there, one on top of the other, and it looks as if they’ll blend. But they never will. So, you take this thing you want and you put it in a box and you close the lid.
You can let your fingers trace the cracks, the places where the light gets in, the dark gets out, but the lid stays on. You don’t look inside. You don’t look at this thing you want so much because You. Can. Not. Have. It.
So there’s this box you know, with this thing inside, and you could throw it away or shoot it into space; you could set it on fire and watch it burn to ashes, but really, none of that would make a difference, because you cannot destroy what you want… So, you take this thingyou want and you put it in a box and you close the lid. And you hold the box closeto your heart, which is where it wants to go, and you pretend it doesn’t kill you every time you feel yourself breathe.” Megan Hart
The untangling. The releasing. The dreaming and redreaming. The holding on and the letting go. The aching and the freedom.
They are all necessary parts of this path. This winding, twisting path. This path to independence, strength, and deliverance.
The fact remains that even as we get further down the path to freedom, even as we are so close to it that we can taste the sweetness of a new life, that thing in that box that we feel no choice but to hold in our heart will still be heavy at times. It will still hurt at times. And there will be days, inevitable days, where the weight of it will be crushing.
And that’s ok.
We will cry. And each time, at each phase of this journey, the tears will be different. Those tears will sting, and they will heal. They will rip apart, and they will mend.
There will be teardrops so heavy, so full of pain, we will have no choice but to release them. The tears will fall through the silence and it will be deafening because, with each one, another piece of the dream will shatter. With each drop released, we will feel the weight of that life, that dream, getting just a little bit lighter.
And then, we will lift our eyes. We will look up and we will surrender. We will give each tear to the keeper of our hearts, and with each one, we will be mended. We will not forget what is in that box. But we will release it into the hands of the One who can carry it. The one who loves us so completely, so wholly, and so vastly that we could never comprehend it.
It is only in that place, that beautiful, broken, dark and heavy place, that light can be found through the cracks.
I keep releasing this box. But every now and then, I find it again. It breaks me, and then I have to surrender it. Again.
God takes it every time.
So even though there is this thing in this box, I will keep the lid closed. I will refuse to look into it even when it beckons me with empty promises and illusionary tales. But I will be careful to only close the lid of the box, and not the lid of my heart.
I will stand with my heart busted wide open so that I can create the space for a new dream. A dream that won’t crush me.
This Christmas, there is a bittersweet duo of relief and sadness. Pain and joy. Gratitude and sorrow. But the truth is, for every piece of that lost dream, I have gained so much more in its place. Reality is much sweeter than any dream because although there is evidence of a shattered life, there is also evidence of healing, redemption, and hope. Evidence of a life redeemed. Proof that when we have the courage to give God our closed up boxes of lost dreams, He turns them into priceless gifts.
Now that is a box worth holding. That is my true gift this Christmas.