Pencil-Thin Purposes: When Dreams Disappoint

I peek through a windowpane on this frosty February morning in anticipation of a velvety blanket covering the road to work. Yet last night’s weather broadcaster’s boastings of severe snow conditions fell far short of my expectations; in fact, not even a pencil thin layer of puffiness materialized.


“No snow day.” I pout.

My husband joins me in a chorus of complaints. “I had fantasies of staying home from work and doing nothing.”

My hopes had more to do with what I would do, like working on my next mixed media piece and starting to re-organize a manuscript. Yet none of this is going to happen, so I turn to my consoling friend, the pen.

"The Pen" A Poem About Writing

This morning as I write, I recall how often my most lofty of ambitions end up like this disappointing snowstorm. I plot and plan and pander my purse to pursue a purpose I’m just sure is the reason I’m alive, the answer to this rustling of feathers deep inside. I try to grasp the dove of peace but the feathers fly in every direction. I highly suspect I’m not alone.

Ruffled Feathers Red-breasted Robin Poem

You’d think we humans would grow accustomed to disappointment and open clenched fingers and let the trapped bird inside fly away free. You’d think we’d eventually come to the conclusion that “peacefulness is just not meant for me.”

But we don’t, we can’t, for God has engraved our insides with the propensity to dream of higher purposes, to search out majestic meanings, to long for eternal treasures. And so we measure our pencil-thin accomplishments with the rigor of Olympic athletes.

We hang onto hope’s windowsill with fingernails worn jagged from our efforts. And the gravity of our humanness pulls us down until we leave gouges in the paint. The prospect of peace bats around in our brains but we can’t let go of what we want to do long enough to grasp for a wing, a wing that we’re not sure will hold us up. 

On Tattered Angel's Wings Inverted Pencil Sketch

Eventually, we fall far from our envisioned plans and purposes; the ones we were so sure that God had initiated and sanctioned.

I’m going to become a well-known author and artist and creative entrepreneur! My former boasting now rings naively in my ears. It sounds so self-absorbed, so ridiculous, so unattainable because real life is about working hard and long at a job and cooking family dinners and worshiping sweetly and cleaning out clutter and mopping floors and throwing parties to celebrate new marriages and welcoming babies and eeking out a little bit of “me time” in the midst of life’s mayhem.

Recently, I’ve had to reassess my dreams, sort through the mess to separate my desires from what I can vaguely discern as God’s. I’ve had to lower my expectations so I could hang onto the windowsill a little bit longer. I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m swimming in an online sea of uber-talented people, and even though, in my mind, my dream clouds have silver linings, they don’t illuminate very brightly when I jump up and out of the water with a well-crafted post or art piece on Etsy.

My dreams have not turned out quite the way I’d hoped they would, even though I did publish a book, learn how to paint, and sold a few books and mixed media pieces along the way. Albeit modest, I have accomplished something as I’ve pursued my dreams.

And every day, in a few modest ways, God manages to give me an opportunity to touch someone else’s life; perhaps not measurable to most, but to me, pencil-thin purposes chockfull of meaning.

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