Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Valley of Broken Dreams

by Emily Conrad



On the way to urgent care, I told my husband the pain in my wrist was like the pain of holding a plank in Pilates class. Only, in Pilates class, I could drop to the mat when the burn got too intense. All the discomfort would dissipate. But as I sat in the passenger seat of his truck, I had no escape from the pain. I could only wait for relief.

I have dreams that are… You know, I hesitated, but I think they really are as precious to me as my wrist. My dreams revolve around writing.

You have dreams, too. Dreams that have become a part of you. Dreams that, like bones, hold you up.

And like bones, we can do some things to care for them, but in the end, their development isn’t up to us. They seem strong, until the right force at the right angle fractures them.


Pain radiates outward from such a break, effecting even our physical bodies. We know something is broken, but we’re powerless to diagnose or heal it.

A broken dream demands care from the Great Physician the way a broken bone requires a doctor's expertise.

To my frustration the day I'd hurt my wrist, the doctor was more concerned about my bleeding chin. He stitched that up before examining the wrist I held protectively to my body. When he did look at my wrist, he pressed—albeit gently—on the affected area, bringing instant tears which served to answer his question about whether the touch hurt.

Still without giving me pain medication, he sent me to get x-rays. Normally one to avoid attention, when they asked if I wanted a wheelchair, I accepted. I didn’t care if it seemed dramatic. I had little energy for anything more than enduring the pain.

Sometimes when we go to God with a broken dream, His attention seems to be elsewhere, too, doesn’t it? He insists we stitch up our relationship with Him. He asks us to be part of a ministry or to give something up. He offers us relationships and says, these will be good for you.



But, God, my dream?


We offer it to Him, tears in our eyes, and what comes next—the diagnosis, the treatment process, the wait for relief—may be painful.

It may take surgery. It may take far longer than we’d like. We may have to stay off it for a while. Perhaps God will replace it with something else, grafting in a new dream to replace the old one. A dream He has for us, rather than one of our own creation.

As scary as that thought is, I have to concede that should He deem such a work necessary in my life, that's the operation I want.

I do not want a bone of my own making, literal or figurative.

Healthy, useful bones are knit together in secret by God. I don't have the capability to construct a dream that would serve Him or His purposes for my life.

When I hurt my wrist, I’d sustained what the orthopedic surgeon would later call a “terrible break.” At the time, I’d long wanted to write full time, but my husband and I had doubts. Could we afford it? Would I really spend my days writing, if given the chance, or would distraction rule my days?

The eight weeks I had off work following surgery answered the second question. I would write, and I would get a lot done, given the time to dedicate to the pursuit.

Later, that knowledge contributed to my decision to quit my day job.

My literal broken bone brought health to my dream, but it took years to come to fruition.

My dream still isn’t fully formed. I’m waiting for so much, and the wait sometimes aches so acutely, I remember the pain of my broken wrist. I wonder if my dream is similarly suffering from a “terrible break.” I long for relief and wonder through what treatment God will provide it.

Why do dreams sometimes break? Why do they take so long? Why can't they follow a predictable course? Why do they sometimes hurt so much?

I don’t have all the answers. I’m still somewhere in a process that will be lifelong.

But, even in times of pain, I recognize the Great Physician. I recognize that, come what may of my dreams for myself, Jesus's dreams for me will come true, and He will one day wipe all the tears from my eyes. I'll look back and see the purpose in dreams that may in some ways be broken.


Even now, as I wait for that perspective and for the outcome of various situations, I will rejoice in Him.

I cling to the God who walks beside me. He provides and pushes the wheelchair when I cannot walk. And, I cling to the truth that He is the God who brings life to the valley of dry bones.

Dry bones!

The surgeon who treated my wrist couldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

But God dreams in ways we cannot. God is not stopped by life or death or powers above or powers below. He is Lord over the valley of dry bones. With Jesus, the valley of broken dreams is a place of hope, the operating theater of a work of grace.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Psalm 51:8, ESV













With #Jesus, the valley of broken dreams is a place of #hope, the operating theater of a work of #grace. via @emilyrconrad

A broken dream demands care from the Great Physician the way a broken bone requires a doctor's expertise. via @emilyrconrad #hope #encouragement

Come what may of my dreams for myself, #Jesus's dreams for me will come true, and He will one day wipe all the tears from my eyes. via @emilyrconrad #hope #encouragement

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Photos by Ales Me on Unsplash. Graphics created on www.Canva.com.

6 comments:

Katie Powner said...

A beautiful post, Emily. Thank you for your honesty.

Only God can take something broken and create something better than before. Only God knows the best way to bring healing.

Emily Conrad said...

So true, Katie! Thanks for reading.

Mary Felkins said...

Great post, E. Never thought to connect my bones with my dreams but each of these two function similarly with respect to care and treatment from the Great Physician.

Emily Conrad said...

Thank you, Mary! I'm so grateful we have such a good, loving Physician looking out for us.

Jerusha Agen said...

This brought tears to my eyes, Emily! Thank you so much for using your own struggle to reach me in mine with comforting and encouraging truth to keep going, keep trusting, and keep leaning into our loving God who can heal our dreams when they're broken and reshape them to look just like His much better plan for us.

Emily Conrad said...

You know, I wouldn't wish these times on either of us, Jerusha, but if I must struggle sometimes, I'm grateful God uses it to help others. And I'm also grateful at the way the struggle reminds me it's not up to me. God's got me, and He's got you, and His beautiful plan is unfolding, even now. <3 So glad we get to walk this road together!