Big Dreams. Big is relative, but we all dream. Many of those dreams may be seeded in reality or at least in the realms of human possibility … but we all have aspirations blended with a dose of whimsy.

I’m a dreamer. I keep mental lists of dream vacations; top 20 places to visit before I’m 50; family activities; career goals, mission activities, etc. Sadly, many of the dreams and wishes I’ve claimed as my own, really aren’t mine at all. I named those dreams … talked about them excitedly, and placed each one on an invisible line of dots connecting to my future. I lived like those dreams were mine, but they belonged to the girl I wanted to be, or at least the girl I thought I should become.

Somewhere along the timeline of my life – and I cannot pinpoint the exact day it happened or why it happened – I deemed myself undesirable. I knew that God loved me and that Jesus died for me, but never grasped the entire beauty that resides in that truth. Instead, I viewed myself as someone that God had to love … and someone whom most humans would never want to get close enough to know, let alone love. And with that warped world view, I began my quest to be wanted. I began changing everything about myself … starting with my dreams.

Since I thought myself drossy, many of my interests became guilty by association. It is not uncommon for teenage girls to want to look and act like everyone else, so at first, my confused sense of self identity was normal for someone of my age. Yet, my desire to be anyone but me grew and aged with my body and morphed into perfectionism. Knowing that no one was perfect, but thinking that everyone else was superior to me, I began to take parts of others to create the “perfect me.”

My friend Casandra is a champion cleaner. Her base boards shine and counter tops glisten. Even the doorknobs on her closet doors sparkle. I added this trait to my repertoire, along with my friend Melinda’s impeccable sense of style, and my friend Molly’s up-beat demeanor and zeal for multitasking. I could list at least twenty-five friends and acquaintances from whom I’ve stolen parts of their identity and weaved them into my own.

And I didn’t stop at personality traits. I added their dreams and goals to my lists as well. In fact, the sheer notion of me making a dream list to begin with was something my friend Doreen did. When she mentioned her desire to Jet Ski through the Everglades before moving from Florida, I added that to my new list. Why not? It sounds like fun, right? Actually, it does not sound like fun to me. I am terrified of alligators and have no desire to soar into their territory. It doesn’t matter that the loud engine would probably scare them away…it only takes one hungry, insubordinate gator to take the bait. Yet for years, and I mean twelve long years, I honest-to-goodness thought that I would enjoy jet skiing in alligator infested waters.

While I think there is no harm in being influenced by Godly friends and acquiring positive traits and ideas, disregarding my talents, dreams, and desires was not only befuddling, it was sin. I was disobeying the voice of God and trying to recreate what He already made.

God didn’t create me to imitate His other creations. He created me to serve Him with the specific qualities he gifted to me. And knowing this doesn’t make me prideful or hoity-toity, it humbles me. It’s OK that I don’t want to teach preschool, ride a mule down the Grand Canyon, or deep sea dive.

God also did not create me to be perfect this side of heaven. If assigned mass and tied to a string, my character flaws, quirky habits, and sins would circle the planet at least once. But God did create me for a purpose, and I will never discover or live up to that purpose if keep exchanging my character traits for those of another. It’s simply unacceptable for me to hide who I am and yearn to be who I am not.

I still struggle with who I am, but each day I try to take every ounce of my flesh, every molecule of my soul, every pound of baggage, and each and every one of my dreams and I am lay them down – without shame – at the throne of the Holy of Holies. For with His masterful hands, He will use all I am and all I can become for His glory. And that is my dream.

“But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”

Ephesians 4:17-25 (The Message)

Read more thoughts by Angela Nazworth at WombWoven.

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  • Brooke

    This post just spoke to me. I just finished journaling about my own life and how I’ve let other people dictate to me who I was and what I wanted to do with my life…my career…my path. Somehow in the midst of all of this, I felt like I didn’t measure up either. That I wasn’t worth it. Know you are not alone in this struggle. I’m new to this community…and to exploring my relationship with God and am just beginning my faith journey. But, your post inspired me. Thank you for writing this. I know you will be all YOU can be….for HIS glory! That is the best dream of all!!!! Best! B

    • Angela Nazworth

      Brooke – Thank you for this beautiful encouragement and welcome to (in)Courage. We’re so glad you are putting your feet up with us and getting to know God in a deeper way. Blessings to you!

  • Holley

    Whew, such a soul-freeing reminder, Angela. So glad you’re who you are and that you share yourself with all of us!

  • Juana

    I felt that way as a teen. I emulated what I thought was what I wanted to be. At 18 and awasy from home, I allowed me to be who I was. It was so freeing. I am sensitive to criticism but now I walk away from it and do whatever it is I feel like doing. I am highly independent yet I allow my husband to be the head of the household. I am a feminist in the real sense of the word. But I am a Christian feminist.

    • Angela Nazworth

      Juana – I am so glad that you found yourself in Jesus and are basking in freedom.

  • Lynn Burgess

    Thank you for this reminder. Even at almost 53 I still find myself sometimes living other people’s dreams and adding them to my own because I don’t think mine are good enough, big enough or challenging enough for God to appreciate. I needed this today to remind me that God made me just as I am, and that is enough.

  • Nancy

    I want to shout, like a “Wao Hoo!” A cheer! Thank you for sharing this!
    I can’t be of any good to myself or anyone else if I don’t LOVE me. The person God created and loves, and delights in and is so Totally CRAZY AbouT!!! M E!!! I love this lesson I’ve been learning lately, not just in my head but my heart . . aren’t those the best lessons?! When I get to know me, and love me, accepting every bit of me just the way I am, I treat everyone around me differently. . .I want to pass it on!!
    My only objective in life is to be me. That’s it!
    Thank you for this reminder. Let’s thank God for who he created us to be today. He accepts every part, EVERY part. There is nothing unlovable! The gift is when we can believe it and in turn experience the same.

  • Loretta

    Thanks for articulating this heart issue so well! I’ve realized this exact same thing about myself, but I’m not sure how to go about figuring out what I do want. I can handle the little decisions, its the big ones that drive me nuts. Sounds silly, right? Any suggestions?

    • Angela Nazworth

      Loretta – You do not sound silly at all. Big decisions can be overwhelming … I struggle with them too, I think that we all do. I know that when I am faced with big decisions it helps me if I take fear out of the equation and then prayerfully evaluate the situation.

  • sonyamacdesigns

    let my dreams go for one day … this past Monday, and there was (o) zero … truth to me … which ment … I was unable to connect to the truth of HIM … who lives in me … Thanks for shareN … truth.

  • Laura

    It comforts me to know that others also share this issue. I’ve been “someone else” for so long that I’ve forgotten who “me” is. I think I need to do some real pondering and praying. Thank you for this message.

    • debbie

      Laura you are not alone. I’ve been somebody’s wife, mother, daughter, friend, boss for so long that I too forgot who I was. I am grateful for you and will be praying for the both of us to re-connect wit the true selves that God made us.

      • Angela

        Praying for both of you. For so long I didn’t know myself either … and there are still days when I forget … I am so grateful for whispers of truth.

  • Julie Sunne

    Great truth in your words, Angela. It isn’t always easy, but if we want to fulfill our calling for the Kingdom, to play the role God cast for us, we must clothe ourselves with the traits He gave us. Letting others see the real me and how God uses me anyway is my best witness. Thank you for this.

  • Kathy @ In Quiet Places

    Oh, that we would all wake up to what God has for us and pay attention to the journey He ordained specifically for us, and thankfully He uses it all to shape us, even the struggles, past and present!

  • Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions

    Amazing. “God did not create me to be perfect this side of heaven…”

    Beautiful. Great work.

  • Mari

    When we realize that God wants us to be who He created us to be it is so freeing and liberating. Just read Kierkegaard’s ” A Parable of a King and a Maiden” and you will realize that it grieves Him when we try to be like someone we’re not meant to be.

  • Beth Williams

    “I deemed myself undesirable.”–That resonates with me! I knew that God loved me that Jesus died for me and that my parents loved me, but that was it. I was super shy due to hearing problems (busted ear drums).

    When I was 35+ and still not married, that’s when I really viewed myself as ugly & probably unworthy of love. Some people would like or tolerate me as an ok Christian, but nothing more.

    That’s when prayer & lots of it went into action. When people say prayer changes things…boy are they ever right! God sent me a wonderful man & He totally changed my outlook on life & love!

    • Angela

      Oh Beth! Your words about being “tolerated” hit home. I have often felt the same way about myself. How wonderful that God healed your heart and also brought you a new love and outlook.

  • Jill

    I think you have written well about many of us.
    It can easily happen in our church culture too that we think we all ‘have to be the same’
    I am in the process of learning who is me and it is wonderfully freeing.
    I am closer to our Lord than ever before, Praise Him!

  • Amy

    This really hit me. So often our dreams and hopes get judged by others, so I’ve also felt that pressure to adopt the admired dreams of others. Or, on the sometimes harder flip side – there’s that pressure to not be a copycat so when one likes the same thing another likes, there is at times a pressure to come up with a different dream solely for the sake of being different.

    With those two competing pressures, I find it really can be hard sometimes to hear that still small voice telling us who we were created to be.

    • Angela

      Amy — what a good thought about trying to be different. There can definitely be different motivation that leads us away from ourselves.

  • Alexis

    Angela! Your story spoke VOLUMES to me! If it were a picture, it would be worth 1,000 words AND then some! Thank you for sharing and being to open and honest. I have BEEN there! I know what that’s like to try to be so perfect for everyone that you start to lose yourself and you wake up to realize you’re what people want you to be, not who you actually are. Keep using the talents God has given you with your writing to speak the truth in love! :)

  • Marilyn

    Angela! You reminded me of a girl who, when asked what her favorite color was, always gave the color the person before her had just said. She didn’t even have a favorite color all her own.

    It is so wonderful to wake up from everyone else’s dreams and discover your own….what’s inside you!

    Wonderful post!

  • heidi

    Thank you so much, Angela! I have been borrowing dreams from other people all my life!
    All the things that brought me joy always seemed to frivolous or stupid. I had no goals or ambitions of my own so I borrowed everyone else’s – including embarking on a degree and career in something “important” .
    Only now am I realising that we serve God through our own bliss. It is taking some serious work on my part to even identify what that is – I have been hoarding the dreams of others for so long.
    Thank you

  • the Joy Gal

    Wow Angela…I thought for a second that I was reading my own thoughts over at my own blog – for this is exactly the path I have been on for the last 9 months or so…of realizing the biggest thing that is keeping me in bondage was myself. My favorite quote these days is “First we deceive ourselves and then we convince ourselves that we are not deceiving ourselves,” (Lewis Smedes). I keep finding new and new places where I have deceived myself and didn’t even know it. And I keep finding that the dreams I have clung to for a majority of my adult life are not the dreams I really would have for myself….either that or they were based on childish ways that are needing to go by the wayside, to move over so the “adult food” has room to move in. Thank you for sharing!
    the Joy Gal

  • kelly

    “Be yourself… Eveeyone else is already taken.”

  • Liza

    Hi Angela, thank you for your post! I’ve been in the same situation for so much of my life and it’s only in recent times that by God’s grace I’ve realised I’ve been trying to live my life according to other people’s goals, dreams & timelines! I’m now taking small yet decisive steps into coming into my own. And it’s scary and unfamiliar!!LOL!! My prayer daily is to be me. I am free. Little step by little step. Day by day. – Liza

  • Amber

    Thank you for the courage to write this. What spoke to me was the bravery to hit publish on this and I appreciate it. I have gone through this exact same thing as well. It’s amazing how we are all stealing each others dreams! Why is this? Thank you for your transparency. This was a huge blessing to me!