I remember where I was when I first realized that I loved to dream. Resting my head on the glass, I looked outside the window to see trees swaying and clouds undulating in the sky. It was on the way to school — all those early mornings going to and fro, from the bus stop to the front doors of my school’s brick building. No iPhones or AirPods in those days, just a clunky walkman and my case of CDs — Be Not Nobody by Vanessa Carlton, Human Clay by Creed, and Fallen by Evanescence.
Those mere thirty minutes of bumpy turbulence and teeth-chattering on the cold bus every morning were an exhale for me. I looked forward to them more than I did learning about isotopes in earth science, more than I did seeing my friends.
My heart came alive and my mind would awaken on that drive across counties, under tunnels, and through streetlights. It was a solace for me — a safe space for my ideas and dreams to come to life. I dreamed about the future and who I might become. I dreamed about the places I longed to go and the people I longed to love. I dreamed of a future filled with love and hope. I dreamed of redemption, of seeing restoration in the lives of those I loved.
All of those days on the bus, looping in and out of my neighborhood, in and out the streets from school to softball practice and back again, I didn’t know I was exercising hope. I was practicing my ability to think beyond what I could see, to believe in something better.
I was coming to discover that the act of dreaming is a defiant escape from reality. Actually, dreaming is not simply a way to escape but rather a faithful way to exercise imagination.
But these days, dreaming doesn’t come so easy. I have emails to send, FaceTime calls with family to make, bills to pay, and doctor appointments to attend. My days are spent juggling my son and his questions, and my mind is filled with more doubt than curiosity, more cynicism than optimism, more hurt than hope. Dreaming comes especially hard on the days my health hits me the hardest, when I am bone-tired at best and can barely give my brain space to breathe, let alone dream.
I can’t help but wonder, Do you feel it too? It seems our lives (and even the lies we tell ourselves) keep us from dreaming, keep us from making space to practice imagining. We don’t set aside time to imagine, and we don’t give ourselves permission to dream. Imagining isn’t often a part of our daily lives — or our faith.
We get stuck in the mundane and the misery that surrounds us — so much so that we forget that imagination is the foundation to our faith. Faith invites us to envision and embrace a King and a kingdom we’ve yet to see with our eyes.
Perhaps, today, it would help to hear that you don’t have to fear what you’ve been told or taught about dreaming; dreams are not always untamed tangents that take you towards evil.
And perhaps dreaming isn’t always about determination and direction or taking the next right step. Maybe dreaming is not always about deciding your destiny or unlocking your fate for the future.
Instead, think of dreaming more like breathing — a way to exhale, a way to keep life pumping in and out of your lungs. Could it be that the dreams that come to you while you wash the dishes are a way to work delight into your days? Might it be that these visions help you see your life and our world with an eternal perspective?
I no longer take bus rides to school, but I love looking out the window when I drive and dreaming about all God is doing in my life and in this world. I love taking breaks during the day to put on headphones and listen to music that awakens my mind to recall the greatness of our God. I need these moments — not only to make me feel good but to challenge my faith to grow.
So this is my hope for you: May you embrace your desire to dream and imagine like you embrace your need to breathe. May you see it as necessary and vital. When you wash dishes, I hope you dream. When you drive, I hope you dream. While you cook, I hope you dream.
In the middle of the mundane, I hope you dream about your children and the foundation you’re setting for their future. I hope you imagine the way your love is laying down a legacy, brick by brick. I hope you dream about God’s kingdom here on earth and imagine the ways in which His light will break forth through the earth, bringing hope and healing.
May your dreaming be like breathing, and may you always remember that your breath is the very exhale of your praise and prayers to our very present and powerful God.