Rats, Seminary, and A Lady {For When Dreams Come Without All the Answers}

They have really long tails.”

We have rats. Not in our house. Oh dear grandma, no! Not in our house, but our property seems to be a favorite recreational destination for them.

My husband is the hunter. He knows he must hunt them, because his wife is terrified of all things rodents. If there’s to be any peace, he must be a knight in shining armor with blood-stained traps in hand.

I braved up the other night to ask him about his man vs. wild adventure. I half want to know more about these skittering creatures and two-thirds don’t. {I realize those fractions don’t add up. Fears are irrational and their torments always seem to add up to more than a hundred percent.} “How big are they?” I ask hoping he’ll say, “Small, really small.” Instead, “Any bigger they’d be opossums. Oh, and they have really long tails.

My imagination runs away with pictures of long and winding tails, switching away, snagging small children from their beds. Inside my little rodent-fearing heart I scream a terrified scream.

Today is the first day of a new quarter at school. I am a seminarian. Yes, you read that right; I am a woman who is a seminary student.

And that is a fact with a very long tail.

When you are a woman who goes to seminary, everyone has so many questions.

“Are you attending with your husband?” No. He’s in the metals industry. {Insert look of “What the heck?” by said questioner.}

“A Master of Divinity is for men who want to pastor a church. What do you want to do with that kind of degree?” I don’t know. Would it be okay if I just want to learn some things I don’t yet know? {Insert smug look of “Oh, are you here to prove something?” by said questioner.}

“Are you being required by your job to get more education?” No. I don’t work. {Insert furrowed brows from said questioner.} Crazy, I know, I chose it.

“So is it a hobby for you?” No, it’s a dream.

“Do you know what you want to do with this dream?” No. Do I need to?

And the tail winds and twists and turns itself around this little dream of mine. My imagination runs away with lists of why I shouldn’t be in seminary. Maybe it is silly. Maybe I should have waited until I had the answer for why I have this dream. Maybe…maybe…maybe… All the ‘maybes’ scream a terrified scream.

Then the wind of reason blows upon this little heart of mine. Do we always need an answer to the “why” of our dreams? Can’t it be enough that sometimes God gives us dreams and fills in the rest of the Mad Lib blanks of life as we just start living the dream? So what if some dreams are like getting a mystery box of furniture from Ikea that doesn’t have the direction manual. {Wait! Every box of furniture from Ikea is a build-at-your-own-risk adventure!}

My dream has been to pursue theological studies from the time I was a freshman at Multnomah. There was a short-distanced sidewalk linking the main campus from the chapel. Every now and again, Dr. John Mitchell would be my walking partner. Nobody I have ever met knew his or her bible better than Dr. Mitchell. In those 7-8 minute walks, he would ask me questions about the scriptures and we would dialogue and he seemed to value whatever little insight I might have offered. Here’s the thing…there were a whole lot of men he could have been encouraging. Seven men to every woman, to be precise. {Yes, that was miserable.} He never asked me why or what I wanted to do. He seemed to assume that I had a desire to know the Scriptures and to make the Living Word of the Scriptures known…not just known, but known well.

A dream was born on those Portland sidewalks. It got shelved thru marriage, child raising, vocational ministry and life. It was a dream that got pushed to the back, out of sight, hidden by all the things that nobody asks “why” if a woman does them. Last year, my husband pulled it off the shelf and lobbed it at me. “Stop putting pennies in this thing like it’s a dream for another day. Break it open and go live it. Figure out the why when the Lord gives it to you.

So, here I am at another first day of class of a new quarter. Still no answers for the questions that are sure to find me. Only a dream.  A big dream, with a really long tail.

I’ll buy a coffee to complete my composed perfection persona. Quietly pull up a chair near the front. And only you and I will know that I am screaming a little terrified scream.

Did you ever have a dream that came without all the answers? What did you do with it?

Today I’m sharing at Life Unmasked. If you hop on over there you’ll find a sliver of humanity that is refreshing.

6 thoughts on “Rats, Seminary, and A Lady {For When Dreams Come Without All the Answers}

  1. All. The. Time.

    I, too, am learning just to dream them and live them and act on them without knowing all the whys, which is if you knew me YOU WOULD KNOW, is DEFINITELY a learning curve. My mom always told me and still reminds me, “Lindsey, you can’t know the end before the beginning.” And so now over 30 years old, I remember to just step forward and live the dream…for whatever reason. And sometimes, I don’t like to talk about it to “the doubters” because I, like you, feel the rat’s tail choking the very life out of that God-sized dream.

    P.S. I love how supportive your husband is of your dream. THAT right there is a beautiful answer within the dream. And I love that!!

    • Lindsey, you bring up a really valuable thing about dream: Guarding them from the doubters. Possibly part of good stewardship is to make sure that you expose them to people who will breathe life and courage into them…not drown them in a tub of doubt. I’m so glad you brought that up! Somehow I think from here on out I’ll see doubters with sharp teeth, pointy ears, and long tails. I’m so glad for adding your thoughts to this and for your visit! Thank you.

  2. Saw the movie We Bought a Zoo last weekend which we enjoyed very much. When asked in a judgmental way why he bought the zoo (and having no answer that would satisfy) his response was “why not?”

    Great answer that I intend to use some day when I am following my dream.

    • Jeff, that is a perfect reply. Yeah, why not?!! Can’t wait to hear about that dream of yours. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. my first time here, andi am smiling a big smile! i love thsi. the dream. the answers you have for the questions. the courage to pursue. to PURSUE. way to go! and my husband gets some funny questions b/c he works for wycliffe bible translators and i didn’t “join” with him. because i have a job. people at his first training even asked him if i am a christian! i love people. i do.

    • Kendal, Thanks for the encouragement. Oh, yes, people…so needing love. I can totally hear your husband getting asked that question! So glad you came for a visit…glad you found a smile!

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