Afraid to Dream
“Nothing happens unless first we dream.”
—Carl Sandburg, poet
At the final breakfast of the 2016 Mount Hermon Writers Conference, literary agent Wendy Lawton stood and addressed all those who hadn’t yet been whisked away by the airport shuttles. She offered a challenge to dream.
I had tried this kind of a challenge before. You write down your goals for the next year and then you seal them in an envelope you address to yourself. In six months you receive it in the mail as a reminder. The difference I heard in this challenge was the request to dream big. I borrowed a pen and slid the form in front of me.
I thought of a reachable, realistic goal.
Dream big, Jan.
I struggled to double the first goal I thought of and forced myself to write another that felt both big and elusive. At this moment I’m not entirely sure what I wrote down, but I do remember I winced at the emotions whirling inside.
I am afraid to dream.
Have you been afraid to dream?
What would it be like to dream with the Lord to see where he is leading you?
Over the next few days, the thought and its question kept prodding and tugging—especially when I wasn’t expecting it. A case in point: one afternoon as I was reading Psalm 116.
When I read the psalm through the first time, the first two verses stood out: “I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (v. 1-2).
I thought, how beautiful. He not only hears our voice, he bends down to listen. What a tender picture.
And there was that word, voice. Anytime I see that in Scripture I think of Voice of Courage. I think of women who long for someone to hear and see them and offer hope that life can hold healing and be meaningful. I think of those who desire to use their voice as they move into places of leadership in their communities.
I read Psalm 116 again and saw this verse:
“I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (v. 14).
Bam, the connection.
I wrote in my journal:
“I have been afraid to dream. Part of this is a longing to simply trust you with the future you are unfolding. And yet, I believe you are calling me to dream, to envision a life that is full in you. Dream with me, Lord. Help me see the desires of your heart, for being afraid to dream has led to being afraid to promise.”
I prayed the Lord would bend down and hear my voice, that he would hear my fear and my longing to dream, a heart cry I did not yet fully understand. Again I turned to the psalm and this time I saw:
“And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth” (v. 9).
As I live . . . fully live.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). When Jesus said this, the word he used for “life” was not the Greek word bios but zoe. Walking in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth is not to be a life of mere existence but one lived with passion and vitality.
One lived daring to dream.
What do you long for? What might you dare to dream?
What is one beginning place where you can say yes and move into what God is unfolding?
I was beginning to see a few of the fear perspectives that were getting in the way of living fully and daring to dream. Last year’s cancer diagnosis and this year’s continued fight. What ifs—like what if I don’t have enough time for my dreams? What if I can’t complete it? What if I fail? What if it doesn’t make a difference?
I spent the next moments in Psalm 116 asking God to help me set intentional yeses that could shift me away from the derailing thoughts and fears, that could instead move me into living fully with passion and vitality. Yeses that would also assure my dreams are shaped by him, bigger than those I tentatively create on my own.
Yes to voicing my prayers as long as I have breath. (v. 2)
Yes to calling on the name of the Lord. (v. 4)
Yes to resting in God’s goodness. (v. 7)
Yes to daily walking in his presence as I live on the earth. (v. 9)
Yes to crying out to him with belief. (v. 10-11)
Yes to completing what I promised together with his people. (v. 14)
Yes to offering all I have for all He has done for me. (v. 13-14, 17-18)
And so yes to daring, dreaming, promising and fully living.
Dear friend, I invite you to join me on this “yes” journey. We as women, as influencers in our homes, neighborhoods and communities, as writers and creators, need to dream and explore where God might be taking the longings and desires he has planted in our hearts. Dreaming with him is one way we step more fully into who we are, into our voice and unfolding story.
What do you long for? What is your dream? Is it big enough that it stretches you to fully trust God with it? What gets in the way of saying yes to it? In the comment section below, share your thoughts, your heart, your questions, your dream. This is a place where we can learn from one another and pray for each other as we begin, with God, to say yes and to dream.
Verses quoted from the New Living Translation.