Caleb is one of the more talented bloggers out there. He’s also one of my favorite writers that live right here in Central PA. Check out his take on how our own personal dreams can sometimes cause chaos in the lives of those we love:
My dad’s a funeral director. In fact, my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-grandfather on both my paternal and maternal sides have been funeral directors. All that makes me a thoroughbred, I guess.
But for two weeks in my childhood, my dad was something other than an undertaker.
When I was in 2nd grade, my father went on a short-term missions trip with YWAM, where he helped build a small air strip in the middle of the Amazon jungle. It was dangerous. I was scared I’d never see him again. But when Dad came back from that two week trip, and shared his stories, I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps … not as a funeral director, but as a missionary. I wanted to be like the man I saw come back from the jungles.
I remember later that year in school – when the teacher asked to draw a picture of what we want to be when we grew up – while all the other kids where drawing astronauts, basketball players, princesses and doctors, I drew a missionary.
How I drew a missionary? I’m not sure, but I was probably dressed in a nice suit, handing a nice shiny “Holy Bible” to a naked brown skinned tribesman. And I probably blurred his dolphin out with some dark crayon … or something.
God became real for me at the age of 15 and my dream was revived. I lived like God’s missionary in high school, leading daily prayer meetings, co-leading a Friday Morning Bible Study, chairing the Student Council Chapel Committee … and all this not in a public school, but in a good ol’ Mennonite High School, where to this day most of my classmates probably place me in the stereotypical religious nut job category.
After high school, I pursued my dream, joined YWAM for two years and then I quit.
I was living my dream and I quit.
The reasoning behind my leaving was multi-fold: I was getting married, I was running out of support money, I felt like YWAM was too sheltered and – the biggest reason of all – I thought God was calling me to serve him as a funeral director. What. The. Hell.?
When I look back on that decision, maybe I was just using the old “God of the gaps” crutch, where I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do, so I just put God into the mysterious decision gap and excuse my lack of decision making skills on “the voice of God.”
My friends didn’t fully understand. Those who were spiritual authorities in my life used the “let the dead bury their own dead” mantra; and even I was slightly confused, as I knew there’s a vast difference between ministering to the dead and ministering to the living.
It’s been ten years since I’ve left my dream, but my dream hasn’t left me. During the past ten years, I haven’t been able to shake the thought that maybe … just maybe … God will, or I will, become what I’ve always wanted.
So, I’ve kept the embers alive. While obtaining my funeral directors license and working at the funeral home full-time, I’ve also received my undergrad in Bible, my masters in theology, and I’ve been serving in various churches and ministries, written two books (one of which will never be published; the other of which will be within a year) and damaged numerous people along the way, including my wife, as I’ve been so busy trying to be somebody that I’m not.
Damn dream. Why can’t I just accept that I’m never going to be what I’ve always wanted to be? Certainly, if I’d just let go of the dream, I’d be a better husband, a better friend, a better son, brother and undertaker. When will I just realize that my dream, in one way or another, is everyone else’s nightmare?
Now head on over to Caleb’s blog: Confessions of a Funeral Director, and have a look around. I’d recommend his posts on Jack Kevorkian or Rob Bell. Some of you are loving the fact that those two names are in the same sentence.