When you were young, what did you dream about? Did you dream about becoming an astronaut? Maybe a teacher? How about a singer or an actress? Did your dreams carry you to faraway lands or on other grand adventures?
Did your dreams include growing up to be in prostitution, child pornography, or working as a stripper? Of course not! Nobody dreams about doing this. Yet in the face of being exploited, we learn to survive and make it from one day to the next without much hope of a better tomorrow. For some of us, we never allowed ourselves to dream because it was too painful to long for something that seemed impossible or unattainable. For others of us, our childhood dreams helped us to survive the unspeakable and it was those dreams that kept us alive. In many ways, those dreams were a gift from God.
The Beginning of a Dream…
When I was 5 or 6 years old, my mom bought an old set of Encyclopedias’ at a garage sale. It was through this Encyclopedia that my Dream was born. I remember randomly picking a book out of the set, and opening up to the section on the Soviet Union. While most wouldn’t find this interesting, it changed my life and set in motion the Dream that I still carry with me to this day. Back in 1985, the Soviet Union was alive and marked by communism and a way of life very different than my own. Maybe this is what drew me. I saw pictures of the Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, as well as girls with big, white bows in their pigtails. They were called Young Pioneers. My Dream grew out of a desperation to belong and to be someone different than I was. I dreamed of becoming a Young Pioneer.
During the seven years I was being trafficked, I spent most of my days in the fantasy I had created for myself. I returned to the “Soviet Union” over and over again and used it as my way of escape and coping with my circumstances. It was as if I had created a new identity for myself that wasn’t built on reality, but it allowed me to survive.
Since then, I have traveled all around the world and been to Russia—however, I have never been to Moscow. In fact, I spent almost two years living in Ukraine, neighboring countries with Russia, yet I never saw the Red Square. I have spent thousands of hours staring at pictures of something I haven’t given myself permission to see in person. Why? Fear. Fear has kept me locked in a world where I dream but don’t take the necessary steps to get there. I allow myself the ability to get so close to the Dream, yet I never let myself actually attain it.
Fearing the Dream
As I thought about what I was going to write in this blog, many things became clearer to me, including the reasons for not fulfilling the Dream. I had to ask myself, “What is holding me back from moving forward? Why am I so afraid of seeing the Dream come to be?” I realized that if I allow myself to see the Dream, then I don’t have it to hold on to anymore when times are tough, or when I need to cope with my trauma. The Dream has held me in so tightly and kept me feeling safe, so I’ve allowed it to stay as it always has been, and never flourish. I’ve not asked God what He wants to tell me about the Dream, and why He gave it to me. The Dream has both been my saving grace and a crutch to lean on and then put away in the closet when it’s not “needed.”
My fear of letting go has caused me so much pain because there’s such a deep longing that I continually hold back and say “no” to. Maybe God wanted to give me a new Dream, but couldn’t, because I’ve clutched this one so tightly. Or maybe God wants to reshape and re-mold it to make it even better for me. Holding on to the Dream has hindered my growth and desire to have new dreams. Not that the old Dream is bad- it was a God-given blessing and gift of grace for me when I needed it so badly. But maybe it’s supposed to look different now and the Dream is to be re-written.
Healing Through the Dream
Writing this blog has been healing for me as I’ve had to process the Dream and what it means to me today. I’ve had to ask myself if I still need it, and if so, why? I’ve also asked God if He wants to do something different with the Dream and what that would be. In no way do I intend to tell you, the reader, that your dreams are wrong… I believe your Dream, whatever it was, was instrumental in helping you survive what you had to. But I wonder, is God speaking to you about coming to Him with open hands, willing and ready to surrender the Dream to Him and allow Him to use it as He wants?
I think that God is the great Dreamer. He formed the earth that we live on from nothing- His imagination has no limits. God created us, His Bride, to be dreamers too! It is my desire that the God-given Dream I have be used for His purpose, rather than my own.
Amy Engle is a wife, mother of three, and a Marriage and Family Therapist. She resides, along with her family, in Phoenix, Arizona. Amy loves international travel and has a passion for women’s ministry and in particular, for those women that are newly out of the sex industry and need someone to walk alongside them as they begin their healing journey. In her spare time, Amy enjoys coffee with friends and a good book, as well as taking road trips with her oldest kids.