When Life Won’t Fulfill Our Dreams

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How often do we show our cards while still bleeding? Before we know how this hand plays out? We may admire those who do, but we hope we won’t have to. I write about living naked: exposing every part of myself. Right now life is not pretty, ya’ll.

This writing isn’t polished because the medication I’m trying (not working yet) messes with what my neurologist calls “word-finding ability.” So I stammer like an idiot and my favorite creative outlet attains new levels of imperfection. In my opinion it takes creativity to create meds with side effects like that.

This illness, whose diagnosis has changed twice in the last month, is kicking my tail. My impatience with a body refusing to operate at even a mar. . . . Not going to admit how long I tried to think how to spell that word. And now I can’t remember what the word was. We’re trying different treatments and I respect my doctor. I also feel like a word I don’t want my son knowing, much less saying, until he’s much older.

The worst part about being sick for month after month isn’t the whole feeling horrible thing. The most painful part is being a mommy incapable of being all I want to be for my son. I can’t run all over the city in this beautiful summer. I can’t even play tag. I’m weak, foggy,  and need more naps than he does. So instead of running beside his bike I read to him for hours from The Chronicles of Narnia. I talk about Aslan’s country.

My unfulfilled dreams derail my son’s. A domino effect leveling plans, hopes, reasonable expectations of what life would be in 2015. But perspective reminds me illness isn’t the worst pain we face. Recently I’ve watched both family and friends smothered under the profound loss of their children. No words touch such agony; lately crying is the only way to express some things.

Life isn’t focused on fulfilling our hopes. I’m just struggling to respond in a way that strengthens my soul—and it feels out of reach, with a foggy mind and a body refusing commands. The music group For King & Country recently released the song “Without You,” and I’ve listened to countless times. It expresses pain while still feeling beautiful. And while I can’t create much right now, I fully appreciate the beauty which brings tears not based in the agony.

“This world is not a wish-granting factory,” one of my favorite book characters said. Good thing my wishes weren’t made for this world. This life isn’t their only hope of fulfillment—or even their best hope. If this body never gets its act together, it’s okay. There’s more to come. There’s Aslan’s country.


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  1. Thank you for being brave and showing your cards while you’re still bleeding. There are tears in this reader’s eyes. I’ve followed your writing for ages…I began when you were a teen and I was a preteen. When we both (I think) idealized life. We’ve seen a lot more of the pain in this country than we wanted to, and it has given both of us a longing for Aslan’s country that few our age relate to. Please don’t be afraid of how this will affect your son. It’s actually a gift. See, my mother had a unique longing for Heaven from a young age and that was instilled in me from infancy. It prepared me for my current struggles, helping me to understand that this world is not our home and certainly isn’t perfect.

    To live is Christ. To die is gain.
    It may not always feel good, but having a deep understanding of this truth is truly a blessing.

    • I had to sniff a few tears back reading your comment, Jordan. Thank you. I remember your name and face, though it’s one of those that I feel like it’s just been familiar “forever” it’s been so long. Thanks for taking the time to share. It’s…surprisingly hard to see God using this pain. Not that I want Him to take it away. But just how He could use it at all. So I really appreciate your company here.

  2. Your words are powerful. Your life is valuable. Verbalizing your struggle like you do – even when it is so hard – is empowering others. Your son is seeing not only your struggle but also your strength. Praying with you today, friend.

  3. Natalie, I’ve been reading your posts and feeling some of your struggle. You are still a gifted writer, using word pictures that describe your journey. I love the line: “I am not as holy as I hoped.” Illness and pain and weakness have a way of stripping all the veneer we’ve worked so hard to establish. God is faithful still. The ONE thing I KNEW when I was going through cancer treatments was: Even if I don’t survive this, God is still good. I found rest and peace in knowing that.

    I’m praying for you, that you will cling to Him as your lifeline, and that your hope and health will be renewed, according to His purpose.
    Ruth Tredway, CWG Craftsman class 5

    • Ruth, it was a treat to hear from you. I certainly remember our residency together. Thank you for taking time to say hello. I’m sorry to hear that you had to endure cancer but relieved you are writing now and from a place of peace.