Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Blahg: Dreams and Dreamers

I've been called a dreamer for pretty much my entire life.  The ten year old I watch frequently shakes her head at me and says, "You're a dreamer, Ruth.  You're a dreamer."  It's a more than fair assessment of me.  When I was a little girl, I played make-believe like crazy.  When I was an older kid, I started writing stories (I wrote fan fic before fan fic was cool).  When I was a preteen, I was obsessed with Disney movies and Star Trek, wishing I could live like my favorite fictional characters. 

And when I was a teenager, I stared at the ceiling of my bedroom. 

That doesn't sound like a very exciting thing to stare at, but keep in mind that I am extremely nearsighted.  I got a bunch of those plastic glow-in-the-dark stars and stuck them all over the ceiling.  When I took my glasses off at night, the glowing stars looked all blurry.  In fact, to my myopic eyes, they looked like real stars.  That's the one good thing about being nearsighted--being able to "see" "real" stars over my head even when I'm indoors.  Only now my apartment has these 12 foot ceilings, and I never attempted to put stars on my current bedroom ceiling.  When I eventually move, I'll have to find a place with shorter ceilings....

Anyway, I had insomnia quite a bit as a teenager.  I spent many nights staring up at the "stars," praying that the Lord would just show me what He wanted me to do with my life.  I'd plead with God to reveal His great purpose for me.  I vowed I would do anything, but I just needed to know what it was.  This went on for years.

Part of the problem was that I had (and have) an older sister who was very determined, who knew more or less precisely what she wanted to do.  And she went out and did it.  I assumed that she had been struck by some "holy lightning bolt" from heaven that told her exactly what course her life was supposed to take.  So I was staring up at the "starry" ceiling, waiting for my "holy lightning bolt."  I prayed, pleaded, for God to send me that "holy lightning bolt" with all His plans for my life.

It never came.

And while my regrets are few (they exist, but they're few--because God was working through all of them even when I was messing up), I do wish that someone would have beat me upside the head when I was a teenager.  I wish someone would have come up to me, knocked me silly, and said what I'm about to say: 

"God usually doesn't send the "holy lightning bolt." 

I wasted years of my life wishing for something that wasn't going to come.  God wasn't going to just send me a live feed of all His plans for me.  God doesn't usually work that way.

That doesn't mean that God isn't revealing His will to us; in fact, He already has revealed His will.  I know I'm repeating myself, but I think it stands to be repeated.  God has revealed Himself and His will to us through Scripture.  We know the "little things" we're supposed to be doing.  If we're doing the "little things," like seeking Him, like loving our neighbor, like praying and studying the Bible...then He isn't going to leave us hanging in the "bigger things." 

For some people, perhaps even for most people, and definitely for me, God doesn't reveal His entire will or His entire calling.  He has given me gifts and interests, and the ability to use these gifts and interests to serve others.  He's called me to wait on Him for the "bigger things."  And slowly, He's been showing me what some of those "bigger things" are.  I'm not a big person, but I've got some big dreams.  I'm not a big person, but I serve a big God.  I believe my big God has given me some big dreams.

It's just that I've been a dreamer for so long, and I'm still realizing that dreams aren't any good just by themselves.  Disney was wrong; dreams don't come true just by wishing on a star (whether it's a real star or just a plastic glow-in-the-dark star).  Dreams only come true through a lot of hard work and personal investment.  My big dreams can't come true unless I'm willing to put some big effort into them.

And even then I'm still too small for my big dreams.

Peter Pan knew how to fly.  He needed a happy thought.  He needed faith and trust.  All those things were necessary for flight, but they alone couldn't make him fly.  He needed something outside of himself; he needed supernatural help. 

He needed pixie dust. 

And sometimes I try to just sprinkle some holy pixie dust on my dreams.  I pray over them.  I ask God to make them come true.  While it's great to ask for help, and I know I need it, I almost get into the "wishing on a star" trap all over again.  I don't like the phrase "God helps those who help themselves."  It's not in Scripture.  Benjamin Franklin wrote it.  So I'm not saying that we have to rely on ourselves to make our dreams come true.  What I am saying is that if something is worth dreaming, then it's worth working towards.  It's worth some hard work.

And lately I haven't been working that hard towards my dreams.

Part of it is discouragement.  Part of me doesn't believe these dreams can come true, so I don't want to put effort into a lost cause.

Part of it is laziness.  I don't feel like putting the effort into it because I still want to build my silly kingdoms instead of seeking God's Kingdom.

Part of it is busyness.  I really do have a lot of other things that occupy my time and energy, but if these dreams are of God, then they are worth making time and energy for.

Part of it is fear.  I don't know how to do what I'm doing, so I don't even try to figure it out.  I'm afraid that figuring it out will be hard.  And, as I mentioned, I'm lazy.  I don't like things to be hard.

But God didn't call me to do what's easy.  God didn't call me to be comfortable.  God called me to trust Him, to wait, and to work with all my might at whatever my hands find to do. 

So, here's how I'd like this week to look:

-- I want to get back on track with editing of second novel.

-- I want to take a look at my first novel and maybe start entertaining the idea of sending out some query letters to literary agents.

-- I want to run at least 10 miles for the week (weather permitting), including one 6 mile run (health permitting).

-- I want to continue with the weight loss success--I'm under130 pounds now, and my size six jeans are fitting better every day.  At least that's one goal that's going well....

-- I want to spend time with a friend whom I've been meaning to meet with.

-- I want to start reading other writers' fiction again.
-- I want to actually play my guitar for more than just a few minutes at a time.

-- I want to seek God not out of habit or out of some desire to meet a goal, but because I want to seek God.

And I really want to stop letting discouragement affect me so much.  That's probably where I could use the most prayer.

1 comment:

  1. Hi A.R.!

    I was reading through the comments on Jon Acuff's blog post about dreams and I saw your comment about being discouraged. I just wanted to let you know that if you have any questions about querying literary agents, I can point you to some good posts and people to learn from. I know it can be kind of overwhelming sometimes, but you've finished a book (and more than one) and that's huge. Most people don't make it that far.

    Don't give up!