Remember When

My dream is dead.

“And a Happy Easter to you!” you would reply.

I can’t pinpoint when it happened exactly, but the slow decline of its vibrancy has placed it on life support for too long. And I am the one doctor remaining in the operating room who refuses to admit it’s over, while everyone else has backed away in solemn acceptance of the inevitable. I watched Grey’s Anatomy in college and my memory tells me I have just summarized every episode.

I’m leaving Laos. The vision I’ve had for the past eight years has breathed its last, and its dying wish is that I learn to dream again. I’m afraid I’ve heard that before.

I heard it when I realized the WNBA was not a viable (or desirable) career option; when my friends moved away in violation of multiple pinky promises and verbal pacts; when I moved away in the same fashion. I fear because I walk toward whatever comes next with a resigned certainty that it will end. My mind gets it, my heart hates it, and my heart always wins.

Easter is, as they say, all the things. It is sad and joyous, beautiful and abhorrent, convicting and freeing. It is also scary. Not for us, because we don’t die at Easter. Jesus of Nazareth does; and on that day, when he asks his Father if there is another way, we know that there is not. Donald Macleod writes,

The wonder of the love of Christ for his people is not that for their sake he faced death without fear, but that for their sake he faced it, terrified. Terrified by what he knew, and terrified by what he did not know, he took damnation lovingly,” (Donald Macleod, “The Person of Christ,” P. 175).

I don’t know Jesus nearly as well as I would like, but I think there must have been great remembrance in that fear. History demanded it. The sins of mankind hung heavily in the air, and as they too met death on the cross, their last wish was silenced by Christ’s triumph.

Today I writhe over the end of something incomparably less significant, but I afford those sins no remembrance of my own. Instead, I look to their final resting place and consider the one death that gave us all life. I doubt that anyone has ever remembered this eternity altering promise enough.

As I say goodbye to four years in Laos, to teammates that are family, to events that changed me forever, I live in a constant state of reflection.

“Remember when that bull charged that guy in the middle of the road.”

“Remember when there was a cockroach inside my helmet?”

“Remember how you would buy me waffles when I was sad?”

I do remember, and it is what makes the end so sad. This week, I remembered so far back that I read my journal that spanned the  six months leading up to my departure for Laos.

Fear. I found a lot of fear in that journal. I mean, I could have written it yesterday. It was the death of another dream. (Should I interrupt myself here and clue you into my hopelessly dramatic disposition, or are you getting that? You’re getting it.)

My words were sad and final and full of moments that colored that season so richly. They also carried the same remembrance of the cross, and it is this memory that transcends the finite boundaries of my earthly dreams, allowing them to die when needed, and be reborn just the same.

I will learn to dream again. I’m perhaps even a little nervous and excited and afraid to say I’ve already started. That inkling of fear slingshots me again to Calvary, to a Savior, trembling over what waited next. But Jesus’ fear does not exist so that I might have a companion in my angst, but so that I would never have to fear again. It dies with him, and begs us to remember:

When we were dead in our trespasses.

When we first believed and the veil was lifted.

When Jesus drank the cup of wrath and presented us with the cup of glory.

Remember with me today, that endings are not the end or the beginning. They are a symbol, urging us to look to Christ, whose supreme hope is that we glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It is this dream that never dies, draws no final breath, and calls all other dreams to itself and asks “are you willing to sacrifice yourself”? And if they answer “yes,” they will change us forever, sting when they come to a close, and color our lives with the memories we most fondly recall with, “Remember when.”


Does Christ have full ownership of your dreams?

How can you more fully surrender your dreams to Christ?


  1. Emily Smith March 22, 2016

    I leave Japan in two weeks after three years of living here. Yes. The death of dreams is so, so hard. I’ve found what I have been grieving is more “what will never be” or the end of so many hopes and dreams. Painful, yes. The fear is real. But hope is such a beautiful thing. And when those new dreams come…it is beyond exciting. The same Christ who is present in the birth of those dreams is faithfully there as they die and He sustains through it all.

    Thank you for this reminder and for sharing part of your story. This truth was something I needed to hear today.



  2. Ellie March 23, 2016

    Beautiful, powerful post, Emily, thank you. I particularly like the last paragraph and the three separated lines. “When we first believed and the veil was lifted” – how beautiful and poignant a line.

  3. Kylie March 23, 2016

    Thank you so much for sharing this so powerfully, Emily! I’m currently seeing a dream coming to fruition and already fearing it’s death and demise. Thank you for the reminder that it all goes back to Him, all goes back to that beautifully awful cross, and that’s what matters. Thank you for reminding me that whether it happens or doesn’t, it’s all about Him in the end.

    1. Kylie March 23, 2016

      Well . . . that was unintended. 🙂 I thought I was adding a profile picture. Oops!

      And . . . now I read the note informing of that very fact.

      Must be time for bed.

      1. Amy Young March 23, 2016

        Kylie, would you like us to remove the picture? It is lovely! But if you’d prefer, we can 🙂


  4. Monica F March 24, 2016

    Beautiful post…my husband and I have been in that operating too…refusing to let go, and being pulled away.  Amazing analogy.  Will be thinking of you as you  ‘leave’…that the death of your dream, will bring to life a new dream.  Thanks for sharing and helping me pause, and remember.

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