I have always been creative. As a young child, my creations were fueled by my never-ending imagination and by the dreams that come along with an active imagination. When I painted something, there were no limits or rules to what could come out as my final product. Rules of reality did not necessarily apply. When I wrote a story, I was in charge of creating new worlds and new people and new stories for the people to live out. If I had a dream and it didn’t work out exactly as I had hoped it would, I was not fazed. Failure was just an opportunity to re-work the original idea and make it better than before.
Somehow, without realizing it, I have become a boring grown-up who has forgotten how to dream.
I recently made a list of dreams for my life–big dreams, small dreams, and everything in between. I tried as hard as possible to not hold anything back or edit myself as I wrote. I took time in crafting the list over the course of a few days. I knew that the list would not ever be finished, as dreaming without abandon leads to more dreams being thought up.
But even my well thought-out list was lacking.
I didn’t realize what it was until I was laying in bed a couple of nights ago. I was tired from work, but my mind was still wide awake. Sleep wasn’t going to come until my mind wore itself out. I had a thought of, “Since I know that I have my birthday weekend off this year, how should I spend my birthday?” It wasn’t long before ideas jumped out at me, eager to be seen. As the ideas came, I caught myself thinking, “Wait, I’m allowed to dream about this? It’s not selfish?!?” The same question came in my mind during a recent time of prayer at church. “Jesus, I’m allowed to dream like that?! Really?!?”
Somewhere along the line, I’ve come to believe that to allow myself to dream is a selfish action.
I could come up with many reasons as to why I’ve fallen into that thought pattern. But, perhaps, the real reasoning is one that I never thought of until I caught myself asking for permission to dream. My head is a fierce protector of my heart. It makes sense–responsibility balancing out a free spirit–but sometimes protection is the last thing my heart needs. I can’t help but wonder if dreaming has been pushed to the back burner as a way of protecting my heart because my head has seen dream after dream NOT come true, forgetting about the wonderful and amazing dreams that have come true in my life. It’s a battle between my head and my heart, between fear and freedom. Dreaming for other people–easy and thrilling. I love dreaming with other people about their lives. Dreaming about my life when I was a kid came as naturally to me as breathing. I had no fear in telling people about my dreams. As an adult, it is easy to dream the big dreams for my future. Dreaming the small, everyday dreams is the challenge for me–“Shouldn’t I be thinking about other people and how to help them and serve them and love them instead of dreaming about things that may never happen? I don’t want to be selfish, so I just won’t dream. Besides, what if that dream doesn’t come true? Then I would have wasted time and the opportunity/effort of helping someone else when they needed it.”
What I’m realizing now is that to not dream is the selfish option.
To not dream is to withhold a defining part of me from the people around me.
To not dream is to not give someone else the courage and inspiration to dream their own dreams.
To not dream is to not see opportunities to make the world a better place.
To not dream is to not grow as a human being.
To not dream is to underestimate and water-down my potential in life.
To not dream is to walk around in the muck and mire of life when I’m meant to soar through the air in freedom.
I know that not every single dream that I dream will come true. I can’t be afraid to dream because it might not come true. The crazy thing about dreams is that some of them do come true!
From today on, I will allow myself to dream the same way as when I was a child. Not only will I dream, but I will work towards turning the dreams into reality, even when it seems as if my efforts are in vain. I will allow Jesus to bring new dreams into my life, no matter how crazy they seem. I will dream for others. I will dream for myself. I will live life as a dreamer.
(Image credit: Disney’s Pinterest)