Monthly Archives: October 2016

Dream Bigger

Have you ever had someone look you in the eyes and say, “Dream bigger!  Your dreams just aren’t good enough.”?

Well, me either.  Not really.  It wasn’t so much a person as the Lord’s voice in my head one day as I was praying.  He was very clear, though; my dreams were not up to His standards.  So I upped my game.

First, I brought Him all of the dreams I did have: a house, family, good job, blah, blah, blah.  Basically, all of the typical girl dreams, including a nice guy with a ring and a wedding eventually.  Yeah…  I’m pretty basic.

Then, I gave up my dreams and asked God what it was that He wanted me to be dreaming of.  (That is an absolutely terrifying question to ask Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent God…  Do it.  I dare you.)

His answer wasn’t what I was expecting.  Actually, He rather surprised me.

It was as if my dreams were pieces of clay that I had molded and spent so much time perfecting myself.  They were well thought out and I had taken pieces of each of my dreams from different places: a detail from my best friends dream wedding, a characteristic from the storybook prince, a spark of life from my past experiences.  But all of my hard work wasn’t good enough…

The thing is, God didn’t just waltz in, snatch up my dreams, and throw them by the wayside.  Instead, He asked.  He requested that I willingly surrender the things I had worked so hard on, but He also promised something better.  So I did.  I gave them all up.  And what He offered me was so much better than I ever could have imagined.

I gave Him my dream of a house in the country with a wraparound porch and a swing.  He gave me a massive house ready to hold friends and family from near and far, ready to serve anyone who walked across the threshold.  He gave me a home filled with love and joy that echoed off of every wall.  He gave me a wraparound porch for all of the kids I love and teach to run in circles throughout the day.  He gave me a swing to sit with friends and family and converse about life and to sing to the kids around me as we swing away from the worries surrounding our lives.

I gave Him my dream of a family which had been shattered by the diagnosis of VEDS.  He gave me a home filled with kids from all over the world.  He gave me a family of adopted kids better than anything I ever could have imagined on my own.  He gave me a church family bigger than any biological family I could ever have.

I gave Him my dream of a good job with good pay.  He gave me a better job than I ever could have found on my own.  He gave me experiences I didn’t know I needed.  He gave me coworkers who would support me in Christ.  He gave me my mission field in the midst of my work life.  He gave me everything I would ever need, provided by His hand, not mine.

I gave Him my dream of a nice guy, of prince charming or whomever else girls dream about.  He gave me a man to stand by my side when no one else could.  He gave me a man wiling and able to support me when I forget to support myself.  He gave me a man better than any prince charming, shadowhunter, Mr. Darcy, or superhero could ever be.  He gave me a man who kneels in prayer with me and worships beside me.  He gave me a man who would never run away, no matter how bad life gets.

Then, He gave me a new dream: to travel.  To see the world He had so deftly created and continues to create and renew each and every day.  But He didn’t just give me the desire to see it on a TV or computer screen.  No.  He gave me beauty beyond my wildest dreams and joys I never knew I could behold, all with my own eyes.  Adventure.  Journey.  Explore.  Travel.  To see it all for myself and enjoy every step of the journey, every moment of the adventure that takes me wherever He leads.

The Lord didn’t take my dreams and toss them in the trash.  He transformed them.  He remolded them into something more beautiful than I could have imagined, something I never knew I wanted.

So go ahead.  Dream bigger.  I dare you.

Gentry Bass

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Are you sure?

As awesome and incredible as my relationship with Brandon is (at least in my eyes, anyway), we have had more than our fair share of rough patches.  There have been a couple of times that we’ve come close to ending everything and walking away from each other forever.  This post is about one of those times.

If you want to read our story, you can find the entirety of our rather long story here.

A couple of months after I was diagnosed with VEDS, my friend, Katie, and I went to Chic-fil-a after prayer.  We started talking about different things and somehow we got on the subject of my relationship with Brandon.  Things went South quickly…

I questioned everything.  I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t done that before.  I had.  I’ve had many conversations with the Lord, asking whether He was sure that Brandon was the right guy.  (Don’t judge me.  Every girl has their doubts.  Even girls who are blessed with young men who don’t tuck tale and run when their girlfriend is diagnosed with an insane genetic disorder with more problems and future complications than could ever be noted…  I know.  I’m insane.)

Allow me to describe myself while in this type of mindset.  I worry that I haven’t heard the Lord correctly and I question every decision I’ve made concerning Brandon.  I worry that I have fabricated God’s blessing for our relationship over the last years.  I worry.  I doubt.  I don’t trust.  In other words, I allow Satan to whisper lies in my ears and I choose to believe them over what I know the Lord has told me.

So, there we were: Katie and I were sitting across the table from one another in Chic-fil-a.  A few others were seated in various places around the restaurant, but we were far enough away to have a conversation without worrying that we would be overheard by our nearest neighbors.  Because of that, our conversation flowed for a while and then moved on to the terrible subject of long distance relationships and my doubts.

I didn’t know what the cause of this incredible and sudden onslaught of doubt was.  I couldn’t pinpoint where the overwhelming feeling that I had to break up with Brandon came from.  All I knew, is that after spending an hour or so in prayer with our prayer group, I felt this burden and I felt that it was from the Lord.  It terrified me.  I felt as though the Lord was telling me that I needed to break up with Brandon.  No reason given.  Just a heavy burden that weighed heavier with each passing moment.

Of course, we had problems.  Every couple has problems.  Our main struggles consist of distance and a love language barrier (on top of me being an overly emotional person), but it isn’t like we wallow in our struggles and allow them to consume our every thought.  We had difficulties.  We still do.  But in that moment, it seemed as though every trial we had ever faced rose up before me and would not allow me to ignore them or pray them away.  Instead, the mountain of never-ending trials threatened to overshadow everything and plunge me into a despair so strong that I would never be freed from it.

However, the most peculiar aspect of it all, is that it seemed to come from God!  It didn’t feel like a temptation.  It didn’t feel like doubt.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest, it felt like a test.

Talking with Katie, I came to the conclusion that God was asking me to break up with Brandon to prove that I loved God more than I loved Brandon.  But this wasn’t just a ‘break up with you today and date you again tomorrow’ kind of feeling.  It more along the lines of a ‘break up with you and never see you again’ kind of thing.  So, with a heavy heart and tear-stained face, I walked to my car and sobbed a prayer on my drive home.  I begged God to show me what His will was.  I begged Him to ease the weight I felt in my soul…

He didn’t.  The weight clung heavily all the way home.  It worsened as I texted Brandon the most dreaded words: “we need to talk.”

Later that night, when Brandon got off of work, he called me.  My heart hammered and I was crying before I was even able to say, “hello.”  I must have said, “I don’t want to do this” and “I love you” a million times in that conversation…

I told him that I felt like God wanted me to break up with him.  I told him that I had felt unloved and unwanted by him because he still didn’t speak my love language, even after multitudes of conversations about what that means and how to do so.  I told him about my doubts and worries that I had heard the Lord wrong when He gave me the blessing to date him.  I told him all of it.  Let me rephrase that: I sobbed my way through attempting to explain everything that was chaotically clanging about in my thoughts.  I’m pretty sure the whole, “let’s be friends” thing was even stated and explored for a while.

When I finally gave him time to speak, he was calm.  (That freaked me out more than anything.)  His voice was quiet.  He listened to each word I said and simply replied in a manner of acceptance.  He didn’t seek to change my mind.  He never once raised his voice, he simply said, “if you feel like this is what you need to do, then I understand.”

There was no fight, no anger, no frustration.  There was simply an acceptance of the inevitable end.

And in that moment, I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t bring myself to hurt this young man I loved so completely.  That was the thing, I still loved him!  It wasn’t like I was fed up with him and he had frustrated me to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore.  I simply felt like the Lord was calling me to do the one thing I never wanted to do.  So, regardless of my feelings and desires, I was determined to do what God asked of me.

I have never identified so completely with Abraham than I did in that moment.

There is a man in Genesis, named Abraham, who was told by God to sacrifice his son as an offering to the Lord.  Not like, give him up, but sacrifice, as in kill on an altar.  Abraham obediently took his son, Isaac, up a mountain with everything needed for the sacrifice except an animal.  Once they reached their destination, Abraham tied Isaac to the altar.  Then, just as the knife in Abraham’s hand, poised to kill, came slashing down, and angel of the Lord stopped him.  The angel called out to him and showed him that the Lord had provided a ram stuck in a thicket for the sacrifice so that Isaac didn’t have to die.  The hard part is, if Abraham wouldn’t have tied Isaac up and raised the knife to sacrifice his beloved son, he never would have been shown the ram.

The willingness to sacrifice our own desires has to come before the Lord’s provision and blessing.

That’s what I learned while on the phone with Brandon that night.  Only after I had come to the point of being willing to end my relationship with Brandon and had actually attempted to do so, was I able to see the provision.  As soon as I had told him that I had to break up with him because I honored and loved God more than I loved him, the weight seemed to lift.

This simply confused me even more.  First, I felt as though God wanted me to break up with Brandon.  Then, only a short while later, I felt as though God was saying that I didn’t actually have to break up with him, I just had to be willing to do so.  I had to show where my loyalties lie.  I had to prove who I loved more and who I truly served.

As the weight lifted, and the confusion set in, I had to talk it out with Brandon: the one person who was completely fine with me breaking up with him…  (I personally think that is a whole other problem we should probably address…)

In the end, through every sob and change in thinking, we ended up staying together and promising to pray it through to determine what exactly the Lord wanted us to do and then reevaluate where we were and whether to continue our relationship or end it when he visited almost a month later.  Praise the good Lord in Heaven above that the final decision was to stay put, together, and really strive to focus on Christ, keep Him at the center of everything, and listen to how He wants us to live our lives and then obey.

So here we are, still together, and still waiting to see where He takes us next.

Gentry Bass

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