August 10, 2016

Dreams Realized; Dreams Deferred by Sharon Espeseth

What happens when dreams are realized early?

Did you watch Penny Oleksiak's final strokes as she won silver in the 100m Women's Butterfly race? This talented 16-year-old from Toronto says she had come to the 2016 Olympics with modest goals, but she didn't just show up and observe.

Penny became a winner for Canada. Her silver was the second medal clanking around her neck as a journalist interviewed her shortly after her butterfly swim. Young Penny admitted she had tried not to set her hopes too high. Former Olympian swimmers understand how big a win this is for Oleksiak.

While some may wonder how this youthful stardom will affect Penny, Marianne Limpert, a former Olympian silver-medal swimmer, advises, "It's great to win a medal and it's a huge honour. But it doesn't really change anything. . . .  Just keep everything grounded. . . . And just stay who you are."

Another rising star

David of Old Testament times also comes to mind as a young, ruddy-complexioned youth with an olympian spirit. If there had been a slingshot category, he would definitely have won. Instead David, Jesse's eighth and youngest son was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel.

In spite of his love for God, David had his indiscretions. He did, however, go to God for forgiveness and guidance, when he had sinned. David has given us most of the Psalms--beautiful verses that speak to our hearts and teach us how to talk to God.

A Raisin in the Sun
What happens when dreams are deferred?

The opening lines of a poem by Langston Hughes ask,

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?"

To read the rest of the poem, see

From this poem, Lorraine Hansberry borrowed A Raisin in the Sun as title for her play about a
struggling black family. With success beyond her dreams Hansberry's play had over 500 performances on Broadway. She became the first black playwright and the youngest person to win a New York Critics' Circle Award. Before her death in 1965 at the age of 34, Lorraine had worked for the betterment and acceptance of blacks in America.

In real life, Lorraine's father could afford to provide for his middle class family. When Lorraine was eight years old, the family moved to a cleaner, brighter, white neighbourhood. Carl Hansberry needed the help of white business colleagues to make the purchase. In the fifties and sixties, residents of a neighbourhood would sign covenants not to sell their homes to blacks. Still the Hansberry's faced court challenges, threats by white mobs, and a brick through their window.

"Mama" in the play wanted to better her family by moving into a white neighbourhood. One critic had written about "a happy ending" to the play, which amused Hansberry, who knew the story ended on an uncertain, unpromising note. The play was, after all, about dreams deferred.

To view the movie, see

I think of Abraham and Sarah as the ultimate example of dreams deferred. Their dreams and God's promise had definitely been delayed. Sarah bore a child in her old age and Abraham did become the father of the Hebrew people as God had promised. Can you imagine their surprise? Joy? Praise?

What about writing dreams deferred?

Sometimes my writing dreams seem to be deferred. I take responsibility for that, but there often have been reasons. I've found out the hard way that I can't physically or mentally handle everything that lands on my platter. I need to choose more carefully and prayerfully about the choices I take from the banquet of life.

Sometimes it's the words that count and not the word count.

In 2nd Corinthians 12:7-12, Paul talks about his "thorn in the flesh." He had pleaded three times for the Lord to take this thorn, or weakness, away. God answered, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul decided to be boastful about his weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on him.

Dare I, like Paul, boast about my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me? Being prone to depression when I overdo things doesn't sound like an olympian spirit, but perhaps it is. "For when I am weak, then I am strong," Paul says. Learning to live by faith and to stay close to God is what makes me stronger. My productivity in writing may rise and fall, but I will persevere. My dreams may be deferred, but not denied. I am not a raisin in the sun.


  1. Your thoughtful words have me pondering my own dreams, Sharon. Thank you for always being so honest and transparent while still uplifting and offering hope.

  2. Thank you, Tracy. Today has been a long, but good day. Our kids are around for the Blue Heron Fair Days in Barrhead. They are camping at the Rotary Park at the edge of town. It has been a busy day for all of us. My nephew Jonathan had emergency surgery. He had liver surgery to remove part of his liver about three weeks ago. He was admitted to hospital when he caught a cold. Coughing badly, his internal stitches came apart. Staff had to move quickly. God has answered our prayers on his behalf.

    Jon is in his early 30s, but has spent a lot of time in hospital and had quite a few previous surgery, including a double lung transplant for his cystic fibrosis. This doesn't respond to your comment, but this is all I can think of right now. Our family is so happy that God has again answered for our young man's needs. Praise his name.

  3. Two things come to mind when I read this post, 'deferred dreams' being one and the 'banquet of life' another. Often times I have put my dreams on the back burner, sometimes because of my own weakness. A little thing called, fear and other times because the timing wasn't right for my family. Whatever the reason I always pray that God has something else in store for me because it isn't easy relinquishing a dream, letting it go. I love your honesty! And the words, "banquet of life" really jumped out for me. Some days there is just too much going on and I want to just say, "no." Like you, I need to pick the things that can wait and tend to things that can't wait. Sorry to hear about your nephew. Again thanks for sharing and I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  4. Sharon,
    Thank you for reminding me to be patient when my dreams are deferred. In my head I know that God's timing is perfect, but in my heart I struggle with the delays.

    May God continue to intervene for your nephew!

  5. Thanks, Vickie and Ruth, for your concerns for my nephew's emergency surgery. We are to thankful to hear today the he is doing well. He is not on oxygen He is walking around and his appetite is up! Your prayers mean so much to us. Praise God for his merciful answers to prayers.

    Thanks also, my friends, for reading my blog and for searching and finding points that are meaningful for your faith walk.

  6. I like the term "deferred dreams." Right now my life feels like it's on hold and there is no banquet to be found. YOu give me hope that this is only a chapter, not the whole book.

  7. Yes, there is hope, Tammy. I recently read a quote from the soul doctor: 'The greatest chapters in your life have yet to be written." I think many of us have "deferred dreams." I believe we need to talk to God about our deferred dreams and to trust his perfect timing.

  8. Here is an update for Penny Oleksiak, who is now the "first Camadian to win four medals in a single Summer Games." Read more on Huffington Post: "Penny Oleksiak Wins Gold Medal at Rio Olympics."


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