…And a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6).
The poet Langston Hughes asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? What happens to our lives when we have to postpone or abort our sincerest and deepest aspirations?” In so few words, Hughes eloquently attempts to answer this thought- provoking question with yet more questions. It is interesting to note that all of his prospective responses have negative consequences, making the poem painfully beautiful. Underlying anger and frustration seem to simmer and grow with each proposition. Of course, the dream that Hughes spoke of are not the images, thoughts, or visions that our mind experiences while asleep. It is our aspirations—the central part of who we are that gives us individual uniqueness. If aspirations are never realized or never given wings to fly, the consequences of deferment can be detrimental. In essence, Hughes metaphorically suggests that if a dream is not given the breath of life, it will dry up “like a raisin in the sun, fester like a running sore, stink like rotten meat, sag like a heavy load, then ultimately explode.” Perhaps, that is also the fate of the dreamer.
I’m sure on some level, we can all relate to this poem. At some point in our lives, there were dreams, hopes, and desires that we have placed on the back burner. Dreams which perhaps have been woven into the tapestry of our lives, disappearing into the seams of routine, and just waiting to be brought to fruition.
For me, fruition began when my five-year-old daughter, Sydney and I were sharing a conversation about what we want to be when we grow up. Her hopes for the future are quite fascinating. She has big plans of one day becoming a ‘superstar.’ She talked in great detail about singing on stage, and blowing kisses at her adoring fans. Watching her prance around and act out the whole scene gave my heart great joy; my cup positively runneth over. Now, I don’t know whether Sydney will ever achieve this status, but the beauty of this story is that she believes she can.
The spirit of a child is truly amazing. The possibility that children can’t become or do anything they dream of is inconceivable to them. To them, beyond the sky is the limit. Seeing my daughter so excited, so full of hope, and bursting with promise touched me in a way that frankly astonished me. The sparkle in her eyes gleamed so brightly until it literally captured my soul. This surreal moment mesmerized me. In what appeared to be an ordinary time of fun and games between mother and daughter, a very distinct feeling began forming inside of me. As I watched her, my very soul—my very essence—was stirred. An illumination, an awakening, happened in my spirit. The Spirit of the Lord was so intense within me, I could hardly contain myself. I continued to watch my daughter perform. I laughed and cheered, but all the while I was aware that something special was occurring from within. As Sydney finished her routine, she took her bow and turned to me, giving me a message that changed my life as well as what I believed about myself: “Mommy you can be a superstar, too, if you want to.” Simple in word and delivery, but it spoke to a part of me that for many years had lain desolate and dormant.
This may sound strange to others, but I knew Sydney’s high-pitched, squeaky voice resonated the voice of God. It’s truly amazing what can happen when God uses someone to speak directly to your issues. Sydney’s message impacted the very core of my heart, bypassing all self-doubts, insecurities, and feelings of insignificance. Her childlike words inspired me; they validated me. My daughter helped revive my dream, which had been tucked and locked away in the dusty, deep recesses of my mind. She resuscitated something in me I thought was dead.
When I learned I was pregnant with Sydney, things were touch-and-go. The enemy tried to steal her from me many times, but thanks to Jesus, she got away. She made her arrival into the world three weeks early. The very morning I gave birth to her, the Lord clearly said to me, “She will prophesy to the nation and the words He will give her to speak will transform lives.” Who knew it would begin with me? Through my wonderful daughter, God allowed me to see hope and faith in its purest, most fundamental state. Through Sydney, He let me know that I can believe again, that through Him all things are possible.
When I was a young girl, I dreamt of becoming a famous author. I wrote countless stories, plays and songs. I also endured insistent teasing from my older brother about their poor content or ridiculous titles. I didn’t let that bother me, though, because I knew in my heart they were all big hits; I was destined for greatness, or rather ‘superstardom.’ As with most people, through the course of time I let my dreams slip away, little by little, eventually abandoning them. But God, in His infinite wisdom, used my own daughter to lead me. In the midst of her guidance, my hopes were renewed, my passions rekindled; a fresh anointing washed over my soul. I was so inspired, I made a demand on my unfulfilled dreams. I sat down that same day and, through the abundance of spirit, I began to write.
I knew then that Sydney’s words had connected with the power of my authentic purpose. She had inspired me to new heights that I never would have reached on my own. Writing felt good, it felt so right, and I knew the beauty of storytelling was something I could no longer deny myself. Writing had the power to fill that empty void. It was a part of me, and although I had forsaken it, it had not forsaken me.
I had been stumbling through life in the dark, existing but not living. The longing in my heart was for something bigger, more than what I had. I vowed that day to leave a legacy, an inheritance for my children, and my children’s children. Before leaving this earth, I wanted to contribute something of relevance, something of importance with my life’s seal stamped on it.
Settling for less than what you deserve seems to be the norm for most people, accepting and tolerating ‘anything’ just to fill the unquenchable void. Why go for the gusto when mediocrity will do? Well, I could no longer settle. “I’m doing it!” I whispered to myself. “I’m going to fulfill my dreams—write books, plays, and movies—or die trying.” And, at age forty-four I courageously broke out of my cocoon, defied my fears, hushed the voices in my head, and threw caution to the wind, all from the inspiration of a five-year-old. Like Sydney, I don’t know if I will ever achieve the status of a ‘superstar,’ but I, too, believe I can. It’s never too late to learn to fly!