I went to the graduation ceremony tonight for the Certificate IV in Christian Life and Ministry that I worked on last year. I’m not normally someone to get super dressed up, but I one of the things I wore was a necklace that was a 21st birthday present. Hanging off of the chain is a ring with the words ‘follow your dreams’ engraved on it. When I received it I was at the end of my Honours year, and was in the process of deciding whether I wanted to continue my science research as a PhD. After a year of events that had taught me and my family the importance of not putting things off it seemed like a very relevant message.
3 years later and I’ve dropped out of that PhD (although should graduate with a Masters later this year) and left the field of science research. My decision to ‘follow my dreams’ proved not possible. And as I put on the necklace tonight I wondered, am I no longer following my dreams, have I got new dreams, what dreams am I following?
There was a musical item tonight, where two ladies from my college sang the song ‘What Faith Can Do’ by Kutless. They started singing and my first thought was, ‘Oh no’. I was in the 2nd year of my science Bachelor when I used to listen to this song. Listening to a recording of it tonight I can recall images of walking home from uni late and in the cold, and of sitting on buses. For a shy, quiet girl, trying to find her confidence and identity in the world whilst also battling anxiety the lyrics were powerful.
And tonight, sitting in the graduation ceremony and listening to the lyrics, it felt like they were sharing my testimony of last year.
Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
I began the certificate because I felt like I’d failed and fallen. I knew I was going to need to make a new beginning, but didn’t know where that strength was going to come from.
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
I needed this reminder, and I needed it regularly. Looking back now, I can see that I didn’t know how strong I was, but God knew and those around me could see it.
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining
These lyrics have much the same message as someone very important to me kept repeating to me last year. To just not give up, that it would get better, that God would use it, and was already doing so. And they were right.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Little by little, last year, I learnt that if I just tried I would surprise myself. Not ‘might’ surprise myself, but that I would surprise myself. I might have been hearing others tell me it was impossible and even heard myself saying that, but it definitely wasn’t truth.
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Each time, all it would take was a little step of faith.
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing
The power of believing. I think these lyrics say it perfectly. My eyes were focusing on the failure and loss and broken dreams, and missing that life is full of light and love and opportunities. But I started to find my way, as I kept on believing.
I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
And this is what I learnt last year. That dreams and will and belief can move mountains and achieve what seemed impossible. That hope can be a powerful light that doesn’t need to go out when things get tough. That miracles and healing can happen, and there is a real beauty in how God works and his “coincidences”. That you can never be too broken, that a heart can be shaped and warmed and changed. That that’s what faith can do.
At the end of the song a friend who was sitting in the row in front of me turned around and winked at me. In that moment it felt like a shared bond over the fact that this hadn’t just been a nice song, but a very powerful and real reminder of not only what faith can do, but what faith has done. That faith brings light and hope, confidence and strength, power and humility, renewal and love. Because that’s what faith can do.
So my ‘follow your dreams’ necklace…The Oxford Dictionary defines a dream as “a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.” I once aspired to work in a biomedical research laboratory, to wear a white lab coat all day, every day. Now I guess my dream is to have faith to follow wherever I am led, faith to decide to take that step out on the water knowing it will be alright. Faith to see more, and to believe that I will find my way. Faith to try new things, regardless of whether I or someone else tells me its impossible. Faith that no matter how dark it might seem in any one moment, the sun will soon be shining. Faith that I can find the strength to rise.
I dream that I will believe just what faith can do.