With both our children, we didn’t find out whether we were having a boy or girl. I love surprises, and hearing, “It’s a girl!” in the delivery room as they held up both our precious daughters was my favorite memory from both of their births. But towards the end of both pregnancies, the suspense was really getting to me. I would start looking up old wives’ tales to determine girl or boy, pink or blue. A common test was whether the mom craved salty or sweet. Salty cravings meant she was having a boy. Sweet cravings signaled a girl.
That little test proved quite untrue for me. I craved salty around the clock with both my girls. With Lydia, all I wanted was meat and cheese. The cheese wasn’t that far from normal. I consider cheese one of my love languages. But the meat was a radical shift from my usual. I like meat especially in the form of a medium-rare-still-slightly-mooing piece of steak. And if it happens to have butter and blue cheese crumbles on it, you’ll find me drooling. But I don’t usually eat a lot of meat. When I eat pizza (my other love language) it’s usually piled high with artichokes, spinach, feta and lots of olives. It was the salty taste I was craving from the meat.
With Charlotte, all I ate for twenty weeks straight was guacamole with Kettle chips. I ate that for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A midnight snack and first thing in the morning. I went on a ladies retreat during this time, and I took my own avocados and chips so that I could feed my craving. I was sick around the clock those first twenty weeks and guacamole and Kettle chips were the only things I could keep down. The salt would settle my tummy, so I would buy a gigantic bag from Costco and demolish the entire thing in mere days.
Now, I definitely like a sweet treat every now and then and nothing beats a Flopsy cupcake from Muddy’s, moist carrot cake topped with tangy cream cheese icing. Delicious! But I’m almost always going to choose salty, another spoonful of casserole, another chip and dip, another pinch of salt.
Recently, a couple of my girlfriends and I have been talking about dreaming and what it looks like to dream when you’re a wife and a mom. One of my friends said, “I just don’t have anything that’s just for me.” She was talking about a dream, a passion, an adventure. She is an amazing wife and mom, one of the best, actually, but she was struggling with what her place was, a place where she could blaze a trail, explore a dream and change the world. Another friend said, “Dreaming feels selfish.” She adores her kids and husband and loves serving her family selflessly, but she desired a greater sense of purpose. She wanted to explore the God-given gifts that lay dormant within her.
I get that. At the beginning of this year, I had a little bit of a crisis meltdown. I was working part-time on staff at our church, a job I absolutely adored but, as anyone in ministry knows, no matter how much you accomplish there is always much to be done. I was mom to a two-year-old who was in the throes of potty-training and nursing a newborn who was eating every three hours during the day. I was wife to my incredible husband, and because I know his love language is food like me I wanted to make him delicious meals and have him come home to a haven and clean clothes and a not-crazy-and-near-an-emotional-breakdown-don’t-say-the-wrong-thing kind of wife.
But that last one was really struggling. Actually, they were all struggling. I felt like I was drowning, pulled under by expectations I assumed everyone had of me and feeling like a failure when I couldn’t stay afloat. I had stopped writing, stopped reading, stopped cooking. Stopped everything that put fire in my belly and wind under my wings.
I felt dreaming was selfish. Here I was married to the most amazing man I’d ever known with two beautiful, healthy girls, both absolute miracles and it felt incredibly selfish to want anything more. But I started to realize it wasn’t about wanting anything more. It was about wanting God to use me for more. I didn’t want to just cook yummy meals for my husband. I wanted to learn how to be a wife who loves like Christ loved and encourage other women to love their husbands that way too. I didn’t want to just keep my girls safe and pretty. I wanted to show them how to be brave and dream big. The quest for a somewhat-clean home, mostly folded laundry and a Crock-Pot dinner felt way too small for a God I knew could do the impossible.
And that’s when I realized dreaming isn’t selfish. When I dream a God-sized dream, when I embark on the adventure He’s invited me on, when I say, “Yes!” to Him, I’m living in the abundance of the life He’s given me. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus Himself tells us He came to give us an abundant life. It isn’t selfish for us to pray bold prayers and dream audacious dreams. I think, instead, it honors God because it’s the life His Son died to give us.
In Matthew, Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth. I keep a little bowl of salt right next to my stove. My younger sister made it in a pottery class when she was nine. Its unique shape and colorful paint job make me smile every time I see it. But my favorite part is that when the salt is almost gone, the basin of the bowl says, “I love you, Elissa.” I reach over for the salt bowl every day. A teaspoon in my favorite goat cheese biscuits, a pinch to bring out the rich cocoa flavor in an espresso chocolate cake and a generous sprinkling over the olive-oil-coated Brussels sprouts right before roasting. Salt has a million purposes. It preserves meat, adds flavor to vegetables and plays a crucial role in chilling my daddy’s homemade vanilla ice cream.
We are just like that salt. And when we dream, we sprinkle that salt all over our planet. We douse our friendships with the preserving qualities of forgiveness and grace. We flavor areas riddled by injustice with redemption, restoration and the life-changing power of God’s love. We provide the vessel for God to accomplish miracles through us. When our dreams are about the mission of God, we aren’t being selfish by dreaming. We are living the abundant life Christ died to give us. We are choosing a life of zest and flavor over bland and flat. We are asking God to use us in ways we can’t even imagine.
Pass the salt, please.