Most everyone has dreams, and I’ve been thinking lately about how there are different kinds of aspirations people may have – those that may depend on outside circumstances and people to ultimately bring about (like winning an award, becoming a renown singer, etc.). You present your best work into the world hoping for more and to reach many, but it’s not always in our power to orchestrate what happens next or who responds and how.
Then there are those dreams you are responsible for bringing to fruition in a sense; things you want to create, experience and learn how to do. “I want to (insert activity here)… someday.” Why not now, why not today? Time goes by and we never make time to do the things we really have a passion for, or we do have the time and we spend it on other routine activities (and sometimes time-wasting ones – Facebook anyone?;), all while being inspired by others living out their own dreams. It’s one thing to wait on God to move forward, but what happens when He’s given the go ahead and we are still sitting on our hands waiting for another sign to appear in the clouds? Nothing.
It’s almost as if we don’t really know if we have the permission to do what we like – it might not seem “practical,” or we have so many other important things to do or people relying on us to support and help them that we push our inner yearnings aside. It may be that the thought that we are actions away from being able to delve into a dream we’ve considered for so long seems too good to be true that we’re internally paralyzed from moving forward…
It could be the procrastination that comes with perfectionism or the doubt that we will be any good. What we dream might even seem like a waste of time to others or to ourselves if there’s little to no monetary compensation involved. Even if those around can’t see the benefits, what if the thing you are to do but haven’t has the ability to help someone you’ve never met?
I’ve struggled myself with all of the above, and have slowly realized that it’s up to me to be bold enough to pursue those creative passions I have. I’ve noticed that stifling the dreams that don’t seem practical and ones that don’t “make sense” is really my way of trying to fit in and do what I think I’m expected to, or to avoid things that seem “too hard” or too “day-dreamy.” I reason that there’s no time, that I would embarrass myself or that it would be purposeless if I’m not successful at what I set out to do. If no one understands, responds or needs it, it would have been a waste.
There’s a quote I like to remember when these thoughts seep in:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman (Author, theologian and civil rights leader)
The excuses I come up with can’t drown out the fact that the things I don’t make time for are there for a reason and many aren’t just fleeting aspirations. The ones I’ve harbored for so long, even from childhood, but haven’t made any moves to pursue in years seem to gnaw at my mind all the time. Just the thought of working on the things I love makes me excited and I when I do them they bring me more joy than if I went on with the routine and “normal.”
So my advice to you is the same, if it makes you come alive do it. Let your passions become a priority on your schedule, even if on a smaller level at first. You may have to say no to others sometimes or schedule out other activities to make time for your passions, but in the end it is worth it. When you take time to do the things you love often the things you don’t like as much become more pleasant and bearable – even purposeful – as if you’ve just awaken to seeing the good in everything because you truly love what you do.
I am finally learning to take steps toward expressing my true passions and following my purpose without being held on to by the strings of other’s expectations. Do you dream of things like learning photography, writing a book or starting a business or ministry? Ask God for guidance, take the time to plan what it will take to begin then move forward and do it. Do it for the love of it, not for accolades or confirmation of others. Put in your best efforts and dedication and do it to the glory of God.
Don’t belittle your God-given dreams and suppress them for the sake of fitting in or melding into what’s expected. People may know what they want from you but may not know what God asks of you. Dare to do something different and new with what He’s given you. What a disservice it would be to those around you to keep the beauty of those dreams inside – the world will miss seeing you when you have truly come alive, and realizing that they can too.