Today, I’m making a bit of room here for Sheridan Voysey. I think his words will strike a cord for many of us who have had to experience loss before we could experience resurrection. When I read his post here, I knew it was for us: those of us who have had to see a dream die before another could take its place. Yesterday, Ray Hollenbach (a spiritual formation director, pastor-heart, and fellow Vineyard-y guy) tweeted this:
Deep change always involves some kind of loss. Wise leaders know helping people navigate such change means taking their loss into account.
— Ray Hollenbach (@Hollenbach) February 26, 2014
I think we often don’t make enough room in our churches and lives and families for the death of something, for the navigating of the loss that accompanies deep change. I’ve been thinking about it more and more with our “Your Turn” series here, as well as a few other situations. So I’m thankful for Sheridan Voysey’s words here and pray that they minister to you. Check out his book on this subject, Resurrection Year.
‘I think that’s all of it,’ my wife Merryn said, pushing a play rug into the last available space in the car.
‘Thank you,’ my sister-in-law said, rubbing her hand over her baby bump. ‘This will all be so useful.’
The car now overflowed with all the paraphernalia one needs for the arrival of a baby. There was a baby carriage in the trunk, along with a stroller. A highchair sat on the back seat beneath the children’s books and portable playpen, and a play rug and bags of bibs were pushed into the spaces leftover.
My sister-in-law closed the trunk, gave Merryn a hug, then drove off up the street.
It had taken Merryn and me a decade to accumulate all those baby things.
Preparing for a dream that was never to be.
Christmas 2010 had been shaping up to be a Christmas like no other. After ten years spent trying almost every means possible to start a family—including special diets, courses of fertility-boosting supplements, healing prayer, numerous rounds of IVF treatment, an agonizing two-year wait on the Australian adoption list, followed by more rounds of IVF—we had been told we were pregnant.
Pregnant! After a decade waiting we were going to have a baby.
Then a call came to Merryn’s cell phone on Christmas Eve.
‘I’m afraid,’ the nurse said, ‘your pregnancy hormone levels have dropped significantly…’
‘But,’ Merryn said, ‘you told us we were preg…’
‘I am so sorry.’
Merryn had put down the phone, walked into our bedroom and curled up in a fetal position. Our dream of having a baby was over.
Now the remnants of that decade-long journey were being carried away in my sister-in-law’s car.
A few weeks before that fateful phone call, I had interviewed British author Adrian Plass on my radio show. Chatting after the interview, I told him about the difficult decade Merryn and I’d had, and how we hoped 2011 would be better. He listened intently to my story then said something profound. ‘In the Christian scheme of things,’ he said, ‘new life follows the death of something, just as Jesus’ resurrection followed his crucifixion. After what you’ve been through, I think a Resurrection Year is what you need.’
A Resurrection Year—a year of new life after the death of a dream.
The phrase struck a chord.
Little did we know it then, but in just a few months’ time Merryn and I would be setting off on an adventure we’d never forget—walking the streets of Rome, climbing the Alps of Switzerland, and settling into our new city of Oxford, United Kingdom, where Merryn would get a dream job at the University and I would write a book helping others recover from their broken dreams.
None of this was what we had planned for our lives. God turned our broken dream into a new beginning.
But this new beginning required something of us.
The baby carriage, the stroller, the children’s books and play rug—like burs that cling to your clothes after a forest walk, they were all reminders of our past. And to move on we had to say goodbye to that past.
We had to say farewell the dream that was never to be.
When my sister-in-law announced she was expecting again, Merryn and I were given an opportunity to do that. And as she drove up the street with our baby things in tow, something significant happened in Merryn’s heart:
The forest burs were plucked from her clothes.
The symbols of the past were carried away.
And that meant we could finally grieve, and say farewell to the dream that for a decade had made our hearts sick.
So, perhaps you long to be married but are still single, or your artistic career has never taken off. Maybe a crushing diagnosis has shattered your dreams for your loved one, or the whirlwind romance has ended in divorce. The good news is, you can start again after your broken dream. God may even turn it into a surprising new beginning.
But for that to happen there comes a time to relinquish that dream.
So that God can give you a new one.
Sheridan Voysey is a UK-based writer, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. His latest book Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings chronicles his and his wife’s journey to start life afresh after ten years of infertility. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and catch his podcasts and videos at www.sheridanvoysey.com Sheridan will be touring the US in October 2014.