I find that a lot of teenagers, college students, and young adults lack direction. Also, me – I lack direction. We know that we want to do SOME-thing, but the possibilities are endless and we’ve been told our whole lives that we can do anything we want. Anything? Like – er – anything, anything? Well that simplifies things.
And it is false.
We cannot do ANYthing, be ANYthing, acheive ANYthing WE want. I’ll never be a renowned artist. Ever. I haven’t the talent. I was never destined to be an Olympic swimmer. I was a good swimmer – on a high school level – in Louisiana. I was NEVER good enough to look anything like an Olympian. I am a good cook, but I’m not passionate enough about cooking to be a great chef.
I am a dreamer. I get an idea and imagine that I could make it happen and make it so wonderful that all would marvel at the wonderfulness of this idea come to life. Well, I was for a while, but then I began to see a pattern in my dreaming. I never saw them to completion – partially because not finishing is a severe character flaw of mine – but partially because they weren’t dreams that matched up with my gifts and abilities. So, then I started to feel a lot like this:
I unlock the door to my empty house and drop my bags – purse, laptop, lunchbox – in their proper spots after yet another long, unfulfilling day of work. I walk into the kitchen to begin another evening of mindless, draining chores. I unload the dishwasher, my mind filled with thoughts of what else needs to be done before I can crawl into the bed and escape for a few hours. As I am wiping down the cabinet, scrubbing off jelly stains and bread crumbs left from the rapid morning exodus, suddenly I just can’t do it anymore. I leave the jelly rag sitting on the counter and dazedly walk back to my bedroom. I pause, looking at my pretty, made bed with throw pillows built up in mounds upon it. It is my sacred place – the only place where I can escape the monotony of my life. I carefully move just a few of the throw pillows over, crawl beneath the covers, careful to disturb as little of my sacred place as possible. Beneath the heavy comforter and tucked in sheets, overshadowed by the pillow mound, I wish that I could just sink into another world, one that does not look or feel anything like my real world.
I feel as though I will never be able to get up again. I’m so tired. Not physically. Maybe not even mentally. But emotionally and oh yes, spiritually, I am so tired I don’t think I can live one more day of the life that I have somehow ended up with. How different it is than the one I imagined! I was going to do great things. I try to remember what they were but I cannot, or will not, because I don’t really believe in dreams anymore. That’s what it means to be a woman living a grown-up life – you stop believing in dreams and fantasies and get right down to business. Doing the things that need to be done.
I discovered that marriage really isn’t that romantic. And I felt silly for ever believing that it was. I realized that having a baby didn’t make me feel important. And I felt ashamed of myself for buying into such a lie. I found that being a teacher didn’t really change the lives of children – it just helped them pass tests. And I was angry that anyone ever let me believe I could make a difference. So now I don’t believe anymore. I just live. And I try to be kind to people. And take good care of my family. And laugh when I can.
But I’m so tired of living without hope. I miss dreaming. But I can’t risk it – because when it doesn’t come true, I will find myself broken beyond repair. Numb is better than broken, I think. What strength do I have that I should still have hope?
It seems to me that we should stop proclaiming and living out the old, “You can do whatever you put your mind to!” It sets us all up for disappointment and even a pattern of failures that really isn’t necessary!
Maybe we should take the time to do a little exploring first. Maybe we should look into what we’re naturally good at, what’s always come pretty easily to us, what we genuinely love and then dig around in our hearts for a bit to see what God has placed there that could be matched with our abilities. And perhaps we should spend significant time talking to God about our dreams – asking Him to sift out the ones that don’t match up with His plan to bring Himself as much glory as possible. Perhaps.
We CAN be ANYthing God wants us to be! And He does want us to dream and live big!
God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, “What’s next, Papa?” God touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. Romans 8:12-17 The Message
On this topic of dreaming and going big or going home – under the umbrella of what God wants when God wants it – I am still a total amateur, but some resources that have helped and encouraged me are:
Strengths Finder by Tom Rath – This is a practical way to identify gifts and abilities. Sometimes when those become obvious, so does your dream.
Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons – Holy Moly. I’m reading this now. It will resonate with you. I know it.
Nehemiah – The one in the Bible. This helps us remember that God does give real, tangible dreams and then He makes them happen, if we’ll just move forward. If you’d like a study to go along with it, Kelly Minter wrote a great one.
Real life says: You are not a big deal.
So what does Truth say? You are not a big deal, but Jesus is. And if you’ve asked him to be the Lord of your life, all of his creative, capable, make-it-happen spirit lives inside of you, which means that ANYthing is possible!