I walked while I listened to her gentle voice through my AirPods. I listened to her story, her desires, her longings. I listened as she described her calling. Her voice slowed down. I increased my speed on the gym treadmill. Her words fumbled around for minutes before they landed here, “I want to write a book.” This sentence was followed by disclaimers, all of her failed attempts, and cautious questions. I have had this conversation before. It wasn’t about writing a book, but it has always been about a dream of some sort. A dream of going back to school, starting a business, buying a camera, taking a class, stepping away from a 9–5 job.
I kept walking.
I remember walking up and down the hills of my old neighborhood with a massive stroller. The baby wasn’t in the stroller, but wailing in my arms as I pushed it — empty. I was still far away from home. The weight of my loneliness was far greater than the weight of my child. I wanted a way out of this feeling. So in all the in between moments, I fantasized my way out of this life. I imagined careers that were creative and, of course, well paid. I imagined doing something meaningful like starting non-profits or a business that helped the displaced. I imagined a life where I could escape the long days of breastfeeding and sleep training. I dreamed of doing something that could bring me into a better life. A life where I didn’t feel lonely or useless or tired. So, I dreamed. I dreamed of something I could do that could take me out of my pain.
I remember walking the aisles of the camera store, the Apple store, the art and design store. I walked between extremes of excitement and the fear of failure. If I was going to go anywhere with my dreams, I had to make it happen. I was anxious. I was afraid. I was desperate at times too. I felt pressure to work hard and the panic of not working hard enough.
My pace on the treadmill was consistent now. In silence I listened to her navigate her desires as though she was in a dark room dodging a spotlight. Then I said, “You don’t have to figure it out.” I heard her almost exhale. That’s the biggest mistake I ever made with my dreams. I had a spark of inspiration and then I immediately started trying to figure out how to make it happen.
Every single dream I tried to figure out — failed. Every dream I walked by faith led to fruition in one form or another.
God gives us dreams not to take us out of our lives, our loneliness, our pain, our discouragement, or our anxiety. Rather, we are called to enter into our lives. By doing this, we enter our dreams too. God drops dreams into our imagination because He calls us to do art in the dark places. Write the book in the dim hours of morning light. Advocate for the poor out of your own poverty. Train your eyes to capture beauty before you ever pick up a camera. Become a wife not by desperately searching for the right man, but by becoming the woman God has designed you to be. The dream of a house doesn’t come by means of your good fortune, but by the hospitality God is growing in you every day.
Dreams aren’t fulfilled in boardrooms, better systems, or strategies, but in the quiet desperation of your own soul’s sanctuary. In the pew of continuous petition, in the slow cup of suffering, in the growling hunger for the Word, in the worship of the one true God, and in the baptism of all forms of idolatry and the rising of unexplainable freedom — this is where dreams grow breath and bones.
Dreams, the ones you are really called to, don’t happen by magic, marketing tips, or sales numbers. They don’t happen by your genius, good time management, networking, or number crunching. Dreams certainly don’t come from your ability to figure them out. Because the dreams that matter most have little to do with results and everything to do with your formation. God is always, every time, and all the time about the formation of your heart to know His good, wide, and endless love. His dream for you is to be deeply formed by His expansive love. You, growing into your belovedness is God’s greatest desire for your life.
When a dream emerges, resist doing something to make.it.happen. Nowhere in Scripture does God say—try harder, do more, figure it out, make connections, it’s all on you, time is running out. Actually, the instructions God gives are quite the opposite. He says—Come to me, rest, abide, trust, you are not alone, I will be with you until the end of the ages, I will prepare a place for you.
Beware of the alluring temptations within your dreams. They will temp to take you away from the life God has given you. Even dreams for the Lord can take you from Him. Relieve yourself of the pressure to figure it out. Instead, step into your own soul, enter your life, be committed to the creativity you are called to, and trust the Lord is faithful.
Most of all, walk in love.
Robin Dance says
Wow, Anjuli…you touched on something I don’t think I’ve every thought about–that our dreams are a means of entering into the lives God called us to, not escaping [fill in the blank]. I’m gonna sit with that a while. I felt a Holy Spirit twinge, so I’d better listen … :).
Thank you, Robin! I have been thinking about this a lot recently. I am so glad it encouraged you. Dream on, friend!
Anna Gibson says
Thank you for this beautiful, perfectly timed encouragement! Just what I needed as I step into a new chapter of my life.
Walk by faith, Anna. The Lord walks with you.
These words! Whoa! They hit home today. I needed the reminder I don’t need to have it all figured out. Trust the Lord and the journey I’m on with him as the pilot.
You don’t have to figure it out, Jill. What a relief! Blessings.
Thank you, Anjuli! What wise words! I will ponder them today, while I explore what I’m dreaming of.
Thank you for this. Very thought provoking….. Thank you.
Thank you for this.
I feel so much pressure to find that something & create.
I just need to rest, sit, let it find me.
Kathy Francescon says
Dawn, I am not sure you will see this, but you described me exactly! A very profound statement. This spoke to my yearning soul. Bless you!
Thank you for these wise and beautiful words. They are so helpful.
Becky L says
Good thing for you to write and share how to continue to walk God in life. God’s the captain of my ship of life. I have had plans to help people in life with Young Living items that are helpful in life that’s helped me through 5 years, as of 1st full week of June. Then pandemic hit and life in the world changed again. Will see what happens this year. Prayers always good to do for self and those in need of healing , etc.
Sandra johnson says
Amazing! Touching and thought provoking.
Take care dear friend as you dream and walk toward your journey.
Brenda M Russell says
I don’t believe in coincidences because God know everything.
There are a lot of circumstances that I don’t understand and I don’t have to understand matters and situations. We can take a leap of Faith and wait on God to reveal what He wants us to embrace when He is ready to add to our growth patterns.
Fear is not a spirit that God has given to us. God has given us the Spirit of Power, the Spirit of Love and the Spirit of a Sound Mind.
How long will it take for me to make my own decisions about speaking up when I want to be seen and heard even at the age of 64. I have permission to change my mind, thoughts and behaviors. My opinions are to line up with the Word of God.
The Bible says we have not because we ask not or we ask amiss (with the wrong motive/selfish intentions). I’m not supposed to only want success without wanting others to embrace success as well. Then engage in works that will edify (help to encourage, enhance and grow the Church). Time belongs to God. He has already set boundaries for our life. Get in line with God’s Plans for your life. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.
As long as we are living on this side of Heaven, we will have the struggle between right and wrong (spiritually and naturally). We need the Strength, Power and Wisdom to win battles as they arrive. Remember, we win the war, Victory in Jesus !
Dreams are seeded in our hearts by our Creator. Sometimes we don’t know our dreams until the Holy Spirit reveals the dreams to us. We can accept the dreams and ask for wisdom to walk the journey it will take for the dream to come to fruition. Never give up, don’t be discouraged or dismayed because it is our God who goes with us. He will never leave or forsake us.
Glory Hallelujah ! Thank You Lord for Your Plans for my life.
With Much Gratitude,
I have dreams waiting . . .
Kathy Francescon says
So touching and heart felt. Absolutely beautiful writing. I could feel your longing and your loneliness. I am so blessed, with so much, and yet there is still this empty place in my heart that I have never been able to fill. A dream, that perhaps I ran from…
Like Ana said in her comment, maybe that dream will find me. Blessings for the journey we are all on to do more for our wonderful Father God in Heaven.
Kathy Francescon says
Sorry, I meant to reference Dawn’s comment…typed in wrong name. Sorry Dawn!
Beth Williams says
This is so true. I remember years ago praying for a godly husband to be there when my parents aged more. Four years later God sent the most wonderful, caring hubby I could ask for. He allowed me to quit for a while & be available for my parents & his as well.
Now wanting to leave this job for one that uses my skills better. I get interviews & have people say good things about me, yet no new job offers. Can’t understand why. God knows & He will orchestrate my life & dreams.
Thank you for this Anjuli! I needed to hear this today! ❤️