Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy by Larry Crabb was recommended to me a several years ago by one of our church shepherds (elders). This was after, and I suppose during, our long battle with my health after having been in the hospital. I was in a different place then, but struggling to be in a better one: emotionally, physically, mentally, all the rest. I read Shattered Dreams and liked it, but didn't really soak it in. Like I said, I was in a different place.
Back then, my 'shattered dream' was that my appendix had ruptured while 34 weeks pregnant, I spent more than three months in the hospital missing out on that time in my son's life, and I had to have many major surgeries due to the infection that took over my body. In my life, that was a pretty big shattered dream. I was not, nor would I ever be, the same person exactly. I had been broken in many ways. But I didn't know that one of my biggest fears was looming around the corner, the one in which my husband and I could not conceive a child on our own. Only in vitro fertilization was the answer, and not a 100% answer.
We've been living with this newer shattered dream, which stems from the old one because they are tied together, for nearly three years now. Reading Larry Crabb's book this time around, and at this particular time in my life, has meant so many new things. I have been trying to pray a couple of prayers that Casey shared with me: "God, I cannot do this without you" and "Your love is better than life." That second, though, I changed for myself to "Your love is better than another baby."
Sounds like it comes out of my mouth so easily, right? Wrong. I choke on the words, no matter how true in my head I know they are...my heart struggles mightily with knowing how much better God's love is than Him fixing my shattered dream.
What Larry Crabb brings to the table is this: what our hearts long for more than anything is an encounter with God, and the only real way to that encounter is through our dreams shattering. He puts it like this:
...the mother of all shattered dreams is the pursuit of shatterproof hope in the here and now. (Author's Note, IX)
Let's face it: dreams in our lives are going to shatter. The problem that Christians today face is trying constantly to fix and make better and feel better, when in fact God is waiting to meet us in that brokenness and do some of His most amazing work yet. But we don't want to suffer or hurt or anything remotely related to that. I know I don't!
Larry Crabb is not saying that God wants us not to enjoy His blessings. God is a good God, and if you believe that, then you can also believe that He wants to work in the bad times as well as the good. Do I believe that God is pointing a finger down at me and saying, "Okay, shatter that dream now!" No. But I know that He has worked in me in the past five years in ways I don't think He could have if everything had gone as it 'should have.'
I love the chapters in which Crabb talks about Naomi and Ruth -- but he's focusing on Naomi. Boy, can I relate to that woman's bitterness. I don't think I feel that bitterness now as I did before. But I love to see him talk about her through all she went through, how raw she made her grief without caring that those around her just wanted her to be better. No...she was a bitter old woman and wanted to be called so, even changing her name to 'Mara' which means bitter! I've joked with Casey that I've wanted to do that as well.
The timing of my reading this book was planned. I knew I didn't want to hear Larry Crabb's words again, but I knew it would really make a difference and it really has. I wish that every Christian would read this book, before and after their dreams have shattered. Because they will. They have. But God is there waiting.
*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.*