The Soul Healthy Way to Dream
Have you ever stopped running free after your dreams because of the death of former dreams? Maybe even now you are reading this because you are hesitant to risk another let down.
If this is you, friend, please have a seat.
There is something your soul may be telling you in this resistance; and, if you listen closely, you may be back up and running before we’re finished.
When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a hair stylist and marrying Ralph Macchio, the lead character in the original movie, The Karate Kid. (I know I just dated myself, but that’s fine. Age is strength!)
As a teenager, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut and marrying Joey McIntyre (“Joey Mac”) from New Kids On The Block (“NKOTB”). (My heart still flutters a bit when I hear, “Please don’t go girl…”)
Then when I started college, I dreamed of becoming a doctor and marrying my high school sweetheart. He didn’t know karate or sing well, so clearly I was easing up on my standards.
Through all of my dreaming, though, I never dreamed of the life I’m living today.
A life that in so many ways is my dream life.
I never dreamed of being single into my 30s. (I met my husband on eHarmony). I never dreamed of being diagnosed with unexplained infertility. I never dreamed I’d go through an extended season with anxiety and depression, to the point that I stopped using my real name publicly, going instead by “Mama Bear” at Noonday Collection and on social media.
As a young adult, I dreamed of using my voice to make the world a better place, of marriage and family. At age 41, I can say all my dreams have come true. But the way they have come true has been far from what I dreamed. In fact, many dreams died along the way.
At each crossroads, when my dream of being married or of having a family, or of using my voice seemed to go by, my soul fell apart. The part of me that is me, that orients me to my God, to worth, to identity, to meaning and hope, ripped along a fault line of broken dreams.
With every hurdle I would stop dreaming for a while. I longed to feel safe from heartache, secure in a world filled with loss.
Oh, I tried to be okay, look put together and act like I believed everything would turn out well. But on the inside, I would spiral with disappointment, internalizing that something was wrong with me. I wondered if dreams came true for others, but not for me.
But as I took one shaky step after another down the road through infertility grief, and through adoption and fostering, as well as a thousand other opportunities where I chose to risk dreaming again, I discovered a truth that holds hope for us, the wounded dreamers.
Out of the rubble of my broken dreams I began to see hints of goodness with me, weaved into the shards that had collected around my feet. As I opened my hands to receive the good, I found life-giving conversations were born from pain, my character was being refined through heartache, and community was growing like a second-skin around my wounds. I learned to grieve over broken dreams as I created space for my emotions to be heard and respected. I found a new comfort I could offer others coming through the rubble, too.
Each time I looked for goodness with me, I found it and became more solid inside and more hopeful that I was not being excluded from some special club of favorites. Goodness did indeed fill the earth, and my life, even as hardship and struggle sat as my neighbors in some seasons.
So regardless of what came my way, I learned to practice a discipline of open hands, looking for goodness present with me, trusting that even in some mysterious and non-immediate way, there was a good purpose being worked out on my behalf through the brokenness.
I knew I was ready to dream again when I reframed how I would measure the outcomes.
Maybe the good life is not getting all our dreams to come true.
Maybe the good life is trusting that the dreams that come true (or don’t) are good for us.
Had I been able to bear children, I would not be holding this beautiful cherub of a daughter today.
Had I met a man in my 20s like I prayed for every week, I would not have later married the man I now call my best friend.
Had I not lost my voice, I would not have found freedom in showing up as I am – like I do today as an author, speaker and Noonday Collection Ambassador. I didn’t need to stop dreaming – I just needed to practice dreaming with an open heart, full of desire, along with open hands ready to receive good, while releasing my grip on everything else.
This soul-healthy way of dreaming helped me years later when my decade-long dream of adopting from East Asia died for various reasons. Once again, I was tempted to believe goodness skipped me, until I remembered the practice of open hands. I chose to trust that the death of my dream did not mean a death of me. Who I am and why I am here were unshaken by the loss of what I thought I wanted, of what I thought was good for me. I could stay in peace, rest assured that if another child was, or is, good for our family then somehow, we would discover a way open up for us.
Then I learned that Noonday Collection was going to launch a new partnership with an Artisan Business Partner in East Asia, actively restoring women’s lives out of desperate conditions. I wondered if my dreams died for a good reason, and that maybe something better was ahead for me. When I learned that sales from our Storyline Collection in 2018 helped nearly a dozen young women step into new freedom, I was able to take joy in being a part of their stories. Had we adopted a child from that region, I would not have had margin in my life to share those stories and accessories. By working as an Ambassador, I became a kind of sister, and even mother – working to provide employment, nurture, healing and safety for others, just as I worked to secure those for myself.
In the death of one dream I could see many, even thousands, of new dreams beginning to take shape. My dream of being a mother to someone from East Asia was being realized not in the way I imagined, but thanks to an open heart and open hands, it was still a dream coming true.
My dreaming hasn’t stopped, either. As I am learning to dream in a more soul healthy way, I am finding the pressure to make things happen fall away. I am experiencing joy in trying new things. I’m noticing an imperfect courage (like Jessica Honegger, Noonday’s Founder, wrote about) to serve others with greater vulnerability. And, I’m dreaming bigger dreams that have multi-generational and global impact.
So, maybe you are an Ambassador who dreams of going on an Ambassador Trip, but you’ve missed the mark in the past. Or maybe you had a different goal you struggle to reach, and feel destined to fall short.
Perhaps you are thinking about becoming an Ambassador, but you are stuck rehearsing dead-ends in your history. You see others realizing their dreams, stretching out of their comfort zones, or becoming more of themselves…but you think that’s not for you.
Hear this today from your soul that longs to dream:
Get on with dreaming, friend.
Dream from the inside out.
Dream with all your heart.
Dream with eyes on a future you cannot see, but with hands ready to receive the good and release the rest.
Meet Heather Yates
A true writer at heart, Heather has been an Ambassador for almost four years. She left her career in law to pursue other passions, like serving as the Women’s Ministry Director at her church, publishing books, and building a family through foster car and adoption. Fun fact: She and her husband also custom rebuild Chevy trucks!