The turtle was slowly making his way across the side of our yard when Lily and I pulled into the driveway Monday morning.
I quickly got out of the car! (Though I don't know why I thought I needed to move fast since the turtle was in no hurry.) I got Lily out of the car to see the turtle for herself. I was excited for us to have this strange encounter with nature in our front yard.
He was a good size fella who stood frozen in our presence.I took pictures and sent them to Josh and my mom. My mom has known of my fascination with turtles for years. Not the kind of fascination that I have my house decorated with turtles. I can’t go so far to say I want a modern rendition of a turtle on my wall. But I do have a connection to them that started 19 years ago when I first moved to Florida.
I had a dream you see: a dream about turtles that I have never forgotten but have not thought about in a long time. Seeing the turtle in our yard reminded me of this dream.
Before encountering the turtle Monday morning, I was having a rough time. I felt frustrated and a bit off course: one of those times where you're beginning to doubt you're making any progress in your life. That moment when you wonder, “Am I just inflicting difficulty on myself or is there really a point to surrendering and doing these challenges? What’s it all leading to??”
I felt frustrated and a bit off course: one of those times where you're beginning to doubt you're making any progress in your life.
You see I am on a 7-month journey of surrender. I have committed to take each month and choose something that I obsess over or something that sucks up my time and basically stop doing it. I’ve also committed to go seven months without coloring my hair or getting any major haircuts. For some people this would be no big deal, but for me it’s virtually the hardest thing I could think of to challenge myself.
I've had short hair since the 3rd grade! I am 42 now and have never succeeded in growing my hair out. I have actually wanted to grow it out for years, but I always talk myself out of it because I hate mullets! And to grow out your hair you have to endure a mullet at some point. I have had a few haircuts that have bordered on a longer short haircut. I think the last time I almost had hair down to my shoulders was when I was 19. And It wasn’t cute. So here I am today, willingly going seven months with greying & confused hair.
So far in my monthly surrenders I stopped shopping at Target because I always buy more than is on my list when I go there; I’ve stopped wearing foundation makeup; I have denied myself looking at Pinterest; and I have allow myself only 10 items of clothing to wear.
I must confess that I have not had the greatest success in letting these things go. In fact, the action has only proven the addiction. I barely made it 10 days with my 10 pieces of clothing. Afterward, I actually broke down and bought more clothing for myself than I have in a couple years which is a little unfortunate since “no clothes shopping” is supposed to be one of my surrenders for a month! I’ll push that to July..
You see, although these things are superficial, they have a pretty big hold on me. I have put a lot of emphasis on my identity being in how I look. This may be normal for the most part, but it just doesn’t feel right anymore. I have felt challenged to let some of this go for a time and peel back what is at the root of these personal insecurities.
I have put a lot of emphasis on my identity being in how I look.
All I can say is it has been HARD!!!! And that is where I was on the morning I saw the turtle.
I was reminded of the dream I had all those years ago. In the dream there was this old radio that I turned on. It came on with an announcer warning people not to put lead in water; that it was very destructive and could cause death. At this point in my dream I found myself on a bridge overlooking a pond. I looked down to see that I had a lead pencil in my hand. Suddenly, I threw the pencil into the water, and when I did, tons of turtles started rising to the surface of the pond, dying. That was my dream.
The next morning, I didn’t remember the dream, but then I went for a walk and came across a small muddy pond area where I saw a couple of turtles. I suddenly remembered the dream and began to think that maybe there was a message in it for me.
I decided the dream was saying that the turtles represented hidden dreams and desires in my heart that were waiting to be fulfilled. I felt like the warning was about taking care of those hidden desires by listening and obeying the warning signs. I also felt like I needed to realize that I have the ability to destroy those dreams if I don’t walk in truth. I felt like it was a message from the Lord for me in my life. Simply put, “Stick to what the Lord has told you to do.”
Whatever I have to endure for a moment is minimal to the joy of reaching the goal I’ve set.
I have seen some dreams of mine come to pass, but I have also had some dreams die. I am learning how important it is to stay the course: to be faithful in the little things. Even in these silly steps of surrender I am doing right now for 7 months.
I felt like seeing the turtle in the yard was reminding me to stay the course: to not give up. After all, it's oftentimes said “slow and steady wins the race.” Whatever I have to endure for a moment is minimal to the joy of reaching the goal I’ve set.
Now, my turtle story doesn’t stop there. After I shared the turtle pictures with Josh & my mom and told them what I thought it all meant, I got a text from Josh later that morning. He texted to tell me that as he was driving to go to a meeting he saw a turtle in the road! So he pulled over and got out of the car; picked up the turtle and helped him across the street.
Can you believe that?! And then it hit me! We need each other to help fulfill our dreams! It’s rare that I accomplish anything all by myself. The times I have felt successful have been when I have felt the support of others around me. More so I am finding that as one person begins to fulfill their dreams it actually opens up doors to help others fulfill their dreams.
As you begin to fulfill your dreams it opens up doors to help others fulfill theirs.
Josh has done that for me. I’ve wanted to write for years. Then Josh had this idea to do passive no more and to include me in it with him. So here I am growing in a desire I’ve had for a long time. Being given an opportunity to write and get better at it.
Turtles are fun little creatures. They have a hard shell that protects them from predators. They have an ability to withdraw when they want to. They also live a long time and symbolize wisdom and longevity. They may seem slow on land but they move quickly when they are in their natural habitat.
I think we probably move better when we are in line to the dreams and desires in us. Sometimes it takes a while in our lives to feel like we are truly on the intended course God has for us. Only now am I beginning to feel like my life is on track to what has been stirring in my heart for years. It may seem late but I think I’m right on time. “Slow and steady wins the race!”
Do you have any turtles roaming around your yard? Any reminders in your life of the dreams and desires you'd like to see fulfilled? Pick one and start taking steps to bring those hidden dreams out in the open See what you can begin doing to achieve them.
Leave a comment below and let me know what that looks like to you.