During this week of Olympics and while wide eyed, open minded, dreamers are going back to college, it’s impossible to keep my excitement for the future at bay. This is a feeling that had completely disappeared from my heart in recent years, but the Lord has been doing a healing work. I feel it trickling back into my soul and it comes with a joy I cannot adequately put into language. I guess if I had to pick a word to describe it I would say, hope.
And with hope comes anticipation and excitement for the possibilities life brings.
I’ve had several conversations with my son lately about just that, hope and the other word that gets added to it to make a pair; hopes and dreams. The stuff that futures are made of. He is a big dreamer, and I seem to find myself in the position of dream crusher, or maybe dream suppresser, or probably both.
Well, at least until recently.
I used to be a dreamer, I really was. I can remember wanting to accomplish so many things in my young mind; writer, world traveler, fabulous cook, financially secure, dynamic follower of Christ, and of course, mother of the year. Basically I planned to be an experienced amazing person all by the ripe old age of twenty five. But, life didn’t quite go that way for me and as I sit here on the week of my forty sixth birthday, I wonder where those dreams went?
Don’t get me wrong, my life has been good, really good. And until recently I hadn’t visited any of those dreams in years. I had laid them to rest in a safe place in my heart, somewhere hidden and out of sight. Every once in a while I would peek into that special dream holding place and have a look, maybe even grieve over what seemed like the loss of them.
But, not very often.
As one day turned into the next and months turned into years, my dreams began to look a little different than when I was young. Each time I would stop and pull them out to think on, a more mature version emerged. Being a writer was still on the list, but some of the others were redefined or completely absent. I was no longer shooting for mother of the year, but to be a Godly, consistent mother and finances didn’t seem to matter as much, as long as I had my family, I felt rich. I still wanted to travel but I had no idea where I would go and how much I would enjoy it with three kids in tow.
So, I would close that dream door and focus on the things at hand.
I guess somewhere along the way I lost my belief in the idea that dreams could actually come true. I didn’t lose faith that God could do whatever He wanted in my life, I just didn’t think my dreams fit in the picture. I had been disillusioned a time or two and I felt too vulnerable to risk the disappointment of unfulfilled hopes. Of course, I didn’t see it this way at the time, I just thought I needed to be an adult and make the sacrifices an adult would make. Keep in mind, that I had never read anywhere in scripture that I needed to give up my dreams to grow in Christ or that becoming mature in Him meant I had to live only on the practical side of things. I know there are verses about self-sacrifice, but that does not have to involve giving up the deepest desires of our hearts.
Many times the two go hand in hand or at least live on the same page.
Back to my son, the dreamer, he challenges me to think outside the box. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but most of the time I’m thankful to have my thinking stretched. He wants to change the world and my practical side strokes out at the thought of anything that doesn’t involve a reliable income or steady work hours or something you wouldn’t be embarrassed to tell your friends about over coffee. I mean, how do explain “dream chaser” to a table full of practical women just like me?
I wanted him to think ahead.
How can you find time to change the world, if you’re busy supporting your family? Never mind that he didn’t have a family yet, he needed to be thinking about being responsible. That sounded good to me, res-pon-si-ble. Get your college education, get a good job, pay your bills, spend your nights and weekends at the ball park like every other little league parent and keep things safe and dependable. For many young people, that sounds good and desirable, but not to this one.
He wants to change the world or at least grab it by the tail.
And give me a nervous breakdown.
We’ve had discussion after discussion about pursuing a career that is down to earth and measurable by some standard, something he could be proud to tell a father when he picks up his daughter for a date. But, to no avail, his mind is made up and he is willing to work hard and let these dreams that are bursting at the seams, lead the way for a while.
He just wants my approval.
Not gonna happen.
Every time he comes home for a visit from college, he talks to me and tries to persuade me to remember what it was like to have dreams. Not aspirations or goals, but dreams. The kind of dreams that may never come true, but need to be attempted. The ones that no one else understands, but you’ll feel like you let yourself down if you don’t try.
The ones that scare practical mothers, like me, half to death.
I don’t think it happened in a moment, at least not one that I can put my finger on and I didn’t have an epiphany, not that I can remember. But something changed, or shifted or was enlightened, I don’t know how to really explain it, but I feel differently today than I did last week and the week before that and the month before, you get the idea. There has been a slow revelation happening in my mind, a deeper kind of understanding. I’ve said hundreds of times over the past twenty two months since my mom died, “life is short, live it to the fullest.”
And I suddenly felt like the biggest hypocrite.
Because I said it, but discouraged my son from living it.
So, this is my apology letter to him and to all of you, and to myself.
Dreams are the wind beneath our wings, we need them.
I mean, how many chances do we get to chase our most unrealistic, possibly unattainable, maybe even crazy dreams? How long can we put them off before they can only be regrets living in a dark room somewhere in the bottom of our heart? I don’t have the answer to those questions. What I do know is we have TODAY. We have THIS DAY and we are not promised another. If I REALLY believe that, what would I change in my life; how would it change my choices; would it change how I spend my time? What would be different if I really lived like this was my LAST CHANCE to accomplish something I’ve dreamed of for so long?
I have a lot of soul searching to do, a lot of questions to ask myself. I feel the winds of change blowing over my spirit and I want my heavenly Father to awaken my senses to the possibilities of what could be. He is, after all, the creator of ALL good dreams. I don’t feel judged by Him for being practical, as a matter of fact, I feel like we NEED to have a practical side, it just shouldn’t define our whole being. Our practical side and our “dreamer” should live in harmony as the Spirit of the Lord weaves them together to form a beautiful outlook on life.
One shouldn’t squash the other.
Well, my dreamer went back to college this week. He’s not afraid of hard work, and I am very thankful for that. He’s bent on setting sail into an uncertain future and I’ve decided “you only live once;” go for it. I’ll be in constant prayer for direction, guidance and God’s protection. But, I’m not going to try and hold him back, I’m going to set him FREE to chase a DREAM.
I can’t wait to hear him tell all about it.
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9