I've been thinking and talking a lot lately about dreams.
I read this e-book by an amazing author. I started reading it right around the time I began facing the fact that for the past several years, I have been shutting down my hopes and my big dreams. I have been fighting my own heart and my desires because I was so sure that I was unworthy and unprepared. Then I realized something so great:
I am unworthy and unprepared, and that is just the way it needs to be. Because every time I think I have things under control, I am quickly reminded that I don't.
Still, I believe that my God has big dreams for me. I believe that he wants me to use my imagination. I believe that he wants me to explore and delight in what I find and to delight in him. I believe he loves me enough for that. I also believe the he and I both know I'm super unqualified for any of his big plans. He's going to have to do most of the work. I'm going to have to do most of the trusting.
Dreams are intense. They can embitter you if you ignore them. They can enrage you if they are not achieved. They can give you a big head if you spend too much time dwelling on them. They can destroy you or they can elevate you, depending on how you treat them.
For a long time, I've treated my dreams like they were too big, too much. They needed to be shoved down, behind practicality and a whole bunch of boring. I was afraid that if they got too much attention, they would be my downfall. What I didn't see was that, in pushing all of the biggest desires of my heart down and away, I wasn't allowing myself to be challenged, pushed or disciplined. By putting my dreams on hold, I was allowing myself to become lazy and disconnected from any purpose or vision I once had for my life.
Now that I'm in the process of waking up and taking stock of my dreams and what I want in life, everything is changing. I feel like I'm up and moving again after sleeping for 3 years. Some things are easier now, because I have a stronger sense of purpose. I am finally admitting that it's possible that I was made for something awesome. Some things are harder now. I feel vulnerable. If I admit that there is a goal I am chasing, there is a risk that I will never reach it. I feel uncertainty. Yes, I know what I want, but is that the same thing that God wants for me? There is much more trust required of me now that I am finally willing to move forward.
One of the hardest parts about realizing I have a big, hard-to-reach dream is being vulnerable and sharing it. On the one hand, sharing a dream is wonderful. If you find the right people to share it with, there are new levels of encouragement and accountability available to you. There are people in your life that want to see you reach your highest potential and who want to help you get where you want to go. On the other hand, the more I focus on my passions and hopes, the more I find myself coming under certain attack. I find that certain little things bother me, and I easily get sidetracked by petty emotions and roadblocks. Here are some things I need to be working on now:
+ I have to stop buying into the lie of competition and comparison. My dream is mine.
In regards to my particular dream and the means of getting to it, there are a couple other people walking through it with me. When you share a similar dream with others, it's so easy to compare the roads that lead to the dream. It's so easy for me to fall into jealousy and bitterness when a friend of mine gets something I want, even if I'm happy for them at the same time. But the more I focus on someone else, the more I am likely to miss great things in my own life. God is doing amazing things in my tiny little heart, and he has been for quite some time. Now that I'm finally realizing that and seeking him and his heart, it only hurts me to focus on what someone else gets to do.
+ My dream is not more or less important than anyone's.
I always find myself in the weirdest balance here. I teeter so quickly from feeling high and mighty about what I'm able to do...straight into feeling so down about what I can't do. What I'm learning is that both of these thoughts are prideful. When I think so highly of myself and take matters into my own hands, that's prideful. When I fall apart because I didn't do or say the right thing, that's prideful. I am not in control. It is not about me.
+ The path to my dream probably won't look the way I want it to.
I try hard to be realistic, but at the end of the day, I'd really love the path to my dream to be easy and free of roadblocks. It just seems like it would be so nice to take each step forward without any interference or interruption until one day, you're there! You've achieved your dream! Every day I am reminded that any dream worth achieving requires courage, strength and perseverance. As much as I would love to have my greatest hopes fulfilled with no pain, I know it is completely worth it to feel the pain, lean deep into God, and come through it stronger and with a great appreciation for his grace.
There are doors open to me now that I never thought would be open again. There will be doors that shut in my face right when I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere. The best part about all this is that I'm not even sure if I could put my "dream" into words. I just know that God has me moving in a direction and walking into a place that is going to stretch me and bring me closer to him. What I consider to be my dream right now may look completely different in 5 years, and that's ok. More than knowing what I'm capable of, more than knowing how much I can do in life, I want to know that through it all, I did my best to listen to God and delight in the journey that he's taken me on.