When I was a little girl, I played with Barbie dolls a lot. I brushed their hair and dressed them in their clothes, including outfits my mom had sewn for them. I rearranged the furniture in my Barbie Dream House, set the table, and even decorated for Christmas. All the while, I told their story in my head. Sometimes they were going on a date or getting married. I thought through all aspects of where they would go and what they would say. I would place them in their house or their car, and that was it. Most of the time, I wouldn’t actually act out the story with the dolls. I didn’t physically move them or zoom them around the room in the car. Once I’d finished their preparation and created their stories in my brain, my play time was over. I was done, and I left. My follow through was lacking.
I realized later in life that my Barbie play was a precursor for my writing career. An occupational hazard of being a writer is that I do a lot of pre-writing in my head. I can spend hours spinning a yarn in my mind, but it won’t make much of a difference, as in, no one else can read it, if I don’t follow through and commit the story to paper or computer. And that part is harder. I’ve heard other writers discuss how they can tell beautiful tales in their minds, but struggle to convert the story to the written word.
Not that my lack of follow through is limited to writing. I’ve had grand plans to create scrap books and photo albums, organize closets, exercise regularly, cook delicious meals at home. Do more, try harder, be better…. Big plans that I don’t manage to bring to fruition. But it’s not because of a lack of time or opportunity, it’s the lack of motivation and inspiration. I abandon projects with reckless abandon.
Throughout my life, I’ve worried about God’s plan for my life. Living in my head and overanalyzing things as much as I do, I’ve often wondered if God has a specific, detailed map set out for my life. And I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the steps of that potential plan.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to believe that God has general plans for all of us that mirror the themes of the Bible: love one another, love yourself, do good, take care of others, don’t be afraid, follow God. But in addition to the overarching plans God has for us, he also has dreams for us. He has given us talents and ideas, and like any good parent, he has hopes for how we might use those gifts in our families, churches, and communities. Praying and inviting God into our lives helps us tap into God’s dreams for us.
But God doesn’t just think about us and then leave us all alone. God is not just a planner or dreamer who walks away after he comes up with a brilliant idea. He’s not like me with the myriad stories and ideas in my head that never materialize. God follows through.
While God’s dreams for us may change over time as our realities unfold, he never gives up dreaming and hoping for us. Even when life is difficult and we wonder where God is, he is in the mix with us. He does not drop us when his dream for us comes crashing to a halt. He does not abandon us when we make a bad choice. He promises to stick by us no matter what.
I don’t believe God writes a script for us that we must follow line by line. But I also don’t believe God leaves us to fumble around figuring out our lives without help. God is good at the follow through. He is ever present in our lives with his enduring love.