The candles ﬂickered gently in the evening breeze as I sat with a friend on her screened-in porch. We were chatting about our children leaving for college after a busy summer with everyone unexpectedly home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that restrictions were lifting and her two kids were heading back to college, the reality of empty nesting was hitting her hard.
“I don’t know what to do with myself,” she said. “I suppose I have things that can keep me busy, but . . .” Her voice trailed off, and then she pointed to her temple. “It’s empty inside.”
“What do you dream about doing?” I asked. “What’s your dream life scenario?”
“Pfft,” she scoffed. “I have no idea.”
When you were just a little girl, some caring person may have asked, “Who do you want to be when you grow up? What do you dream about doing with your life?” And chances are, you had no shortage of answers. I want to be a teacher. I want to ﬂy to the moon. I want to work with horses. I want to be president. I want to live in a castle. I want to be a doctor. I want to have lots of kids and live in the country. Dreaming was as natural to you as breathing.
And yet, if another caring person were to ask you those same two questions today, the answers probably wouldn’t come so easily. Like my friend on the porch, when asked about your dreams, you may even draw a complete blank. Why is that? What happened between childhood and today? What happened to your dreams? Why is your dreamer turned off?
It may be that you actually accomplished the dreams you had early in life. Perhaps you founded and ran a successful organization, had a fulfilling career, or raised children and are proud of the people they have become. Your dreamer is turned off because you feel you have nothing left to dream.
Perhaps the dreams you had in young adulthood were snuffed out when life dealt harshly with you, and you know all too well the pain of broken dreams. Now you struggle to dream again because it feels dangerous, especially if it seems like no one believes in you, supports you, or even sees you. Your dreamer is turned off because you’re afraid to hope.
It could be that the demands of life make it seem impossible to dream right now. You’re navigating difficult circumstances or relationships. When you look to a future with no children at home, a marriage that needs work, or an unwanted career change, all you feel is fear, anxiety, shame, or emptiness. Your dreamer is turned off because you feel overwhelmed by life.
Or perhaps the idea that you could have a new dream for this season of life seems almost absurd—out of line after your years of sacrifice for family, a career, or both. Isn’t dreaming reserved for younger women? Your dreamer is turned off because you believe your season for dreaming is long gone.
Whatever the reasons may be, the dreams that came so easily to most of us in the first half of life now elude us. And yet, if we want to live a life of joy and purpose in our second half, we have to turn our dreamer back on.
So what exactly is your dreamer, and what do we mean by dreams? Your dreamer is simply that part of you that is able and willing to aspire to new and better things. When your dreamer is turned on, you feel free to imagine new possibilities, new ways of living, and new relationships. In fact, you not only feel free to imagine these things, you feel excited about the adventure of making your dreams a reality.
When we speak of dreams for women at halftime, we are speaking of both your being and your doing. Dreams are aspirations, longings, glimpses of whatever you want to be true in your life. More specifically, dreams include whatever it is that would make your second half most meaningful—anything from the kind of person you want to be, to how you want to spend your time and where you want to live. Dreams hold the key to God’s best for you—the person he created you to be and the work he has uniquely prepared you to do.
We believe that it is possible to turn your dreamer back on and that you can have new dreams for your life. We believe God isn’t finished with you yet. And we believe that everything you’ve learned, experienced, and overcome in the first half of life has given you a unique treasure trove to draw on so your next season really can be filled with joy and purpose.
Shayne Moore and Carolyn Castleberry Hux offer encouragement this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Women at Halftime by Shayne Moore and Carolyn Castleberry Hux. Copyright ©2022 by Shayne Moore and Carolyn Castleberry Hux. Published by Tyndale Momentum, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.