I’ve been a dreamer my whole life.
My parents are probably the biggest influences in this. They are extraordinary and I, ashamedly, don’t tell them that enough. Say what you want about the Dallas Cowboys, but my parents are the best cheerleaders the world has ever known. They have fought for me, pushed me, and believed in me when I didn’t even know what that meant or looked like. They taught me to dream, to hope, to drain every ounce of life from each day, and to strive for more than could be attained in this life.
Like Gabriel Oak, who told Bathsheba Everdeen in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, “I believe in you entirely. I don’t believe there is anything you can’t do,” my parents reverberated that message my entire life. Their love for me and confidence in the Lord created a space safe to both dream and fail and dream again.
But here’s the thing about my dreams: none of them happened.
After training and dreaming about winning gold for more than a decade, I never made it to the Olympics.
I didn’t make it to the NBA (shocking).
My childhood dream of being a cashier at Kroger never panned out (although I could potentially still accomplish this).
I never met Michael Jordan.
I never moved to Laos to teach English with ELIC.
Let it be stated in bold font: God’s dreams for me have far surpassed what I ever imagined for myself.
The story of my life has been written with the most tender Hand using the highest quality grace-filled ink. Each page is etched with more love than I deserve and people far better than me. The adventures and experiences God has weaved into the storyline prove that He does exceedingly abundantly above all I could ask, think, or imagine.
But the thing of it is, I think somewhere along the way I turned off my dream factory. I stopped imagining and dreaming big things for myself because I was subconsciously too afraid I would get my hopes up and then be met by the Lord with another no, another closed door, and another thing to scribble down in the book of “didn’t happen.”
But lately it seems that God Himself is turning back on the dream cylinders and teaching my heart to trust His enough to dream big, come what may. What once was exciting and glamorous (dreaming of the future) is now a terrifying process for me. I want to retreat into a cocoon of familiarity instead of cracking through the shell to the fresh air waiting on the other side. But God, it seems, is still in the business of ripping off my safety nets so that, with defenses abandoned, He alone carries my confidence.
My best friend and I were having coffee the other morning while I was journaling thoughts along the lines of the previous paragraph. Because she makes me vocalize everything I never want to, she asked what was happening in my brain and then said, “You can dream big. God’s not going to give you a scorpion.”
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” -Luke 11:11-13
That was 100 percent what I needed to hear (and still do). Maybe you do too. Maybe we both need to be reminded that God is good and that sometimes the dreams He plants within us are exactly the ones He intends to carry out. We can trust Him to do right therefore we can allow ourselves to enjoy the freedom He died for and dream big.
So here I am: 27 years old and learning to dream again. Learning to trust God entirely. Learning to not resist anything that will refine or help me look more like Jesus (even—especially—if it’s a dream that shakes you straight out of the cocoon).