After forty-odd years of life, I had begun to wonder whether my dream of getting married would ever happen. Years of searching for companionship proved unfruitful. And past heartaches had paved a narrower road to finding the love of my life. Other priorities would eventually fill the hole.
Life has a way of swallowing up time. We become engaged in ongoing activities that once promised benefits. Later, we forget how we arrived at our present location…and perhaps even where we’re headed.
Life also presents us with choices. What am I going to wear today? What will I eat for breakfast? Where will we go on vacation? And how will we get there? The choices we make then determine our activities, our environment, and our behaviors.
Sometimes, life’s questions, and the choices that follow, come with higher stakes. They present archways to new adventures, and pathways to personal growth. Should I marry this person? Should I leave this job? Where should we live? And what will I do for the rest of my life?
Such was the case for me in 2010, at age 52. With 25 years and counting toward a stronger financial retirement with my long-term employer—and a comparable timeframe of low-maintenance apartment living and the leisure associated with life as a single male—I awoke to a midlife crossroads. Major life choices, it seemed, had emanated from the status quo. Autopilot works well when contentment reigns, but it can turn on you quickly when bumpier roads arrive. Unrest is a sure sign that change is in the wind—or it should be. And it promises to usher one to more fertile ground. We aren’t called to coast through life, but rather to take on new challenges and fresh experiences so that we can continue to learn and grow at any age.
So, after much counsel, consideration, and prayer, I broke free in 2010. And I hit the trifecta! I left my job, proposed to Debbie, and moved out of my apartment. With a “no turning back” mantra in play, life instantly became more intriguing, if not more challenging and more rewarding. Debbie and I married and then bicycled across America on a self-supported tour, fulfilling not one dream, but two! As if the freedom of the open road, the beauty of America, supportive family and friends, and new places and new faces daily were not enough, celebrating these fabulous experiences as newlyweds left no doubt that these changes were timely. I discovered that God can use dreams to release a new power and a new zest for living, to move one to a more specific calling, and to continue the lifelong character building that comes with a genuine commitment to Him.
What choices are you facing in your life today? Are the possibilities screaming for attention, or are they locked away in the recesses of your dreams’ storage trunk? The choices we make go a long way to determining whether we live a life of enrichment or a hollow one. You cannot accomplish the new when you cling to the old. Choice, with a dash of courage, spells opportunity. Yet, opportunity is sometimes difficult to recognize.
Take the time to ask the more important questions in life, questions such as What am I doing? and Where am I going? When you do, you may just discover some dreams percolating to the surface. Dreams help define who we are. They don’t just pop into your head uninvited. Keep them close to your heart and make choices that bring them closer to reality. We may not always realize our dreams, but they will still shape us. Give them their just due. They are there for a reason.