I came across a job posting that went something like this: "Ranch Manager Position open. Commercial ranch looking for manager in eastern MT. Horses only operation. Along with monthly salary, provided will be: 5-bedroom, newer house, vehicle, benefits, utilities paid, and all the beef you can eat." I think I sat there, gazing at the screen, my mind wandering, for several minutes. I can't explain the feelings that came over me, overwhelming me. They were so strong, I involuntarily reached over and closed the website. Getting up from the computer in a daze, I couldn't seem to focus on anything for the next several hours. Something had been stirred in my heart that had long been silent. It was uncomfortable and disconcerting.
Later, after the kids went to bed, I opened the book I'm reading and read these words:
"It as become and informal tradition of ours around the turning of the years to do a little dreaming, allow desire to bubble up from our hearts...It's good for the heart to do some dreaming; it pulls you out of the rut, and lifts your eyes to the horizon. Hope follows, like children running to the song of the ice cream truck. Desire awakens hope, and hope is really good for the soul...Now, we don't know what the coming year holds. But we have found that if we don't dream about our lives then we are simply swept along by the torrent of demands, feeling like hostages rather than mature adults taking charge of our lives....So what is the mission of your marriage? What are the two of you called to do together? Can you name it? "We are in this together" is essential for the boy and girl in the fairy tales. Finding a shared mission as a couple is essential to a vibrant marriage....Our hearts are made to live a life that matters, a life of epic significance. Surviving the week so you can hit the food court at the mall on the weekend is not enough....In the same way that God has hidden adventures and surprises in the earth He gave us, God has also written dreams and desires deep in our hearts. Finding those dreams and desires, and sharing them as a couple, is one of the most romantic things you will ever experience."*
And I started to cry.
I realized that I, that we, had forgotten how to dream. That we'd become so hardened, so cynical, that dreaming seemed pointless. You see, we once were very young and had so many dreams and plans for our life together. We just knew that the world was open to us and God was for us and life was brimming with hope and joy and possibilities. Then life happened. We lost our home to a fire. We mortgaged our land to rebuild. The job market disappeared and we lost our home and property to foreclosure this year. Sky had to take a job trucking to pay the bills. The kids and I live all week without him while he sleeps on the side of the road in his truck. Our daughter was diagnosed with autism. Strain took root in our marriage, each of us falling into our own addictions and shame and anger. And the light and hope we once had for our lives slowly was choked out of our hearts. We put up walls to protect the gaping wounds of disappointment. No more dreams. We shoved our desires way down deep in hopes to quench the longing that reminded us that life isn't what it was supposed to be. If we allowed ourselves to think about "what if?" those thoughts only produced anger, despair, and resolve to forget about them.
But that one job posting awoke everything that had been sleeping and stirred our desires once again. It has always been a deep-rooted desire, even before we were married, to live and work on a ranch. To raise our kids with a love of the land. To use our hands and our hearts to be a part of something that was bigger than us. We were convinced that God had put those desires in our hearts for a reason. We almost realized the dream once. Then the bottom dropped out of all of our plans.
We talked about it this weekend as we drove through some of the prettiest country God ever made. How we've forgotten how to dream. How we can't seem to get past "why even bother?" How we are so afraid of wanting something because we are afraid of being disappointed. Again. It's easier to just go through the motions and live from paycheck to paycheck and forget that we ever had any dreams in the first place.
I feel like I woke with a start and didn't even know I was sleeping. I'm tired of not dreaming. I used to be such a dreamer. So I'm letting these desires sit there. I've decided not to stuff them back into oblivion. They're uncomfortable, but they feed my starving soul. They hurt and prod at the wounded places in my heart, the lies that say "your life doesn't matter, God doesn't care, dreams are stupid, why hope for anything?". I'm not entirely sure what to do with them except let them be.
And since faith without acting on it is worthless, I replied to that job posting. And I made fliers that state "Hard-working, adventurous, loving family in search of full-time ranch work". My heart beats a little faster just looking at it sitting on my desk. But it's about to go up all over central Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Who knows...maybe God has put us here with what we have for a reason after all. I'll tell you one thing...it's a lot easier to dream here. There's a whisper of promise in this place that has been soothing and wooing our souls since we moved here. Saying "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light". And I think we're beginning to listen. If that turns out to be the only reason we are here, then it is reason enough.
*From Love and War, by John and Stasi Eldredge.