There are many types of dreamers. Determined dreamers who make life happen, disastrous dreamers who persist despite life happening, and a category all to itself for the disregarded dreamers - who emerge from the unknown while life is happening.
Sometimes I feel like that last one. I feel like the girl who no one saw coming. No one expected anything from. And while I could allow myself to give up (believe me, I have seriously thought about it), there is that still small voice that tells me to press on.
... tells me that what I am doing is making a difference.
I wish I could say that I always listen to it, but I don't. Sometimes I need the reminder that all of the obstacles and all of the work and all of the getting pushed aside is just a part of the process of dreaming and when we keep going (crawling if needed) to accomplish a goal, God can use that dream to do incredible things.
There are many dreamers in scripture. Many men and women who I could easily point out and say - "look, look at what they dared to dream up", but I want to focus on one obscure woman with one of the saddest stories I have come across who many would disregard in this category, but that is why she fits it so well.
Maybe you are unfamiliar with the story of Leah, but in the Old Testament lying Jacob got lied to and it caused a series of events to unfold that would make for a really great movie basically. Because that is what you would hope it would be, just a movie, not someone's actual real life. But unfortunately that wasn't the case for this woman. To the naked eye she would just be collateral damage, an extra on the set that has an unfortunate story. Definitely not the hero. And certainly not the main character.
The issues she had to deal with, remind me a lot of our own excuses for why God can't use us. Why we aren't good enough, or without great purpose And yet, despite it all - she changed the world!
Let's just look at the top three things Leah had to overcome...
Leah was unattractive.
Yes, I know that sounds harsh, but read it for yourself.
Genesis 29: 16-17 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.
Leah had "weak eyes", that is how scripture describes Leah. Weak eyes. I am not a scholar in insults but I am pretty sure when the only thing someone has to say about you is that you have "weak eyes", it is not a compliment. Especially if they follow it up with the fact that her sister is just sooooooooo beautiful.
Girls, I had a Rachel. My older sister was tall and skinny and sang incredible and had boyfriends and played the flute like an angel and could draw all the things!
I was constantly compared to my sister growing up. Constantly. I felt like Leah here, like someone could ramble on about how amazing my sister was and all I would get was "she's good at math". Seriously, it was my one thing. I had head gear and acne and was a little pudgy (when I wasn't anorexic) and couldn't come up with original pieces of work to save my life so I copied what other people would do. I was a great imitator.
I was not good at being an original, not good at paving my own way, not good at a lot of things. But I was good at math.
Yea, thanks. Got it.
But Leah had another thing going against her.
Leah was unwanted.
Genesis 29: 20-25 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.” So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
Jacob wanted Rachel not Leah. He worked seven years for Rachel and then made a huge scene when he was deceived by getting hitched to Leah. He ended up working fourteen years for Rachel because he loved her, but not Leah. I repeat, not weak-eyed Leah.
Have you ever felt like the one who was the second option? I wish I could say that I haven't or that I have only felt that during my school years - but girls, over and over I feel like letter "Z" on the list. The one people call after they've called all the people.
I was not the cool kid, the popular girl, the queen bee. My nickname in band was "cow" and I took my sister to my senior dance. I'm serious. So yea, I get it.
But still that was no where close to having my father believe I would never marry so he would make it to where someone who wanted my sister would get tricked into marrying me instead. Low blow, dad. Low blow. And even worse, Jacob wasn't quiet about it.
Leah was unloved.
Like horribly horribly unloved.
Genesis 29: 30-35 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
Leah named her first three children after her despair and rejection, but her fourth (Judah) she named after God's goodness. She stopped having babies for a man that didn't love her and instead would praise God through being a mother.
Ironically, or was it, it was through this son that Jesus would come into the world. Both Joseph and Mary were descendants of Judah. (After quite a few generations; don't worry it wasn't a thin tree.)
Now I am not saying that Rachel and Leah stopped their world war because Leah finally was ok with being a mom. In fact Rachel couldn't have children and there was this whole thing with having her servant get pregnant and then Leah's servant, and then Leah got pregnant again, and then finally Rachel did… It was ugly. But in all of her excuses, all of her doubts that God couldn't do something with her life, she ended up mothering a son who God would use to one day bring the salvation of the world through.
Her life, her purpose found in being a mother, changed the world.
We may not think much of "just being a mom", some days I even have a hard time with it - but girls, this was her purpose, her dream, and through that everything changed.
I believe with everything in me that there are a bunch or disregarded dreamers out there that need to get close enough to our loving God for Him to wipe away all of the hurts and pains, close enough to hear of the need in this world for their life to be lived exactly how He purposed it to be, close enough to doubt their doubts and dare to ask "why not me"?
Who is going to be the next generation of Christine Caine's and Lisa Bevere's and Beth Moore's? Who is going to love the world the way Mother Theresa did or mother the next Benjamin Franklin? Who is going to dream up the next medical breakthrough or start the next foster home that restores home in broken children?
Why not us??
Why not sometimes unattractive, unwanted, unloved, us?
There will be trials. PLENTY. There will be suffering and doubts and turning around a few times (just look at Peter). But the fulfillment of that dream beats any trial you had to face to get there. There is a world waiting for you to stick it out through the thick and thin.
So, to the girls who have been taught not to dream, the ones who believe they can't, the ones who are feeling left out, invisible, unworthy, and disregarded, this is for you.
Ask God why the world needed one of you, and then do that.
Don't let being disregarded by others, make you disregard yourself. You are strong. You are able. You are capable of changing the world. You are. So get to it.