Learning How To Dream

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“Okay everyone, let’s pray for…” she looked around the circle, but it was 9:1 odds she would say the person to your right. She always chose counterclockwise. “Pray for yourself.” She stood up and we all remained seated eyes wide with confusion.

Small group always begins with an ice breaker. I think it’s weird because we all know each other by now, but the questions are easy and non-invasive.

“What’s your dream job?”

Everyone cooed and I felt their excitement in how the couch wiggled. Everyone sat up straight and their eyes glossed over. My heart beat a little nervously to share something so personal. The question automatically seems to say that what you’re doing now isn’t your dream.

Shari is a CPA, but she wants to be a personal trainer.

Fran works for the church, but wants to run a print shop and do graphic design.

Bonnie is a dental hygienist, but wants to be a dentist.

Lili is going to school to become a nurse, but wishes she could be a singer/dancer.

Lindsey is a daycare teacher, but she wants to run her own a pre-k and an event planning business for children’s birthdays. But she’d choreograph if she had rhythm.

I shared my dream to be a writer without comment.

For some of them, they’re so close. They’re in the right field and could someday find their dream job. Others have settled on the other end of the spectrum. Their dream is a far off dream. It had been years since anyone had asked these women what their dreams were. Probably many Christmases ago when they graduated college or started their first job. I’m the youngest in our group by 4-10 years. Even now, people don’t ask me about my dream or my passion, but my job or my career, dull, lifeless words commensurate with zeros on a paycheck.

“What are your passions?”

“How could you use that passion inside of you and sacrifice it to God?”

“What have you already sacrificed for your passion?”

Pain and frustration plagued voices now. With husbands, children, and the comfort of their current job, some of these women talked about their dream without hope. It simply wouldn’t happen. Others counted out the steps of financial ruin that would come from quitting their job and switching careers. The room slowly stiffened as women put up walls to protect themselves from the very idea of following that passion.

“Let’s pray for yourself. Pray for your passions.” She stood up and we all remained seated eyes wide with confusion. Wild protests shouted across the room. No one felt comfortable praying for her dream. No one, myself included, ever prayed for themselves aloud in front of others before.

Heavy pauses and awkward, shaking words began around the circle. Fear, pain, aspirations, hope, and a stronger, crushing fear bled through each word uttered.

Everyone held onto her own hang-ups or roadblocks. No one had a bad reason to not strive for her dream. There’s never not going to be a reason to not do something.

My current story felt different. I told them earlier how I’ve always wanted to write and how I blogged nonchalantly for nearly two years. For the past two months or so, I wake up before six every morning to write for an hour or two before work. Living in New Orleans gave me a story to write and ample time to begin. Leaving New Orleans gives me no career and ample time to find a tribe as a writer.

I feel a lot of God in my plan, or lack thereof. I confess that I would probably never up and quit my job for my fun hobby if it were my own choice. That’s too scary. That’s too much commitment. Now I’m here and I’m revving up for a terrifying couple months.

When my turn came, I prayed for courage, bravery, and the clearness of mind to not measure my success by the standards of the world (also known as WordPress Stats). I thanked God for forcing me into an opportunity to work toward my dream and prayed that He give the same chance to these women. When we said amen, I couldn’t tell if everyone was discouraged or quietly contemplating their futures.

We all dream and want something more for ourselves. But a small, powerful demon named fear follows us around forcing us away from our dream life. Maybe that’s why people never ask you what you’re dreaming about, or who you want to be one day. Even though I’m on the brink of whole heartedly chasing my dream, it feels weird and awkward to share out loud. Not because I’m telling other people, but because I’m admitting it to myself that there’s a dream out there I want to chase. And there’s a dream out there you want to chase.

You have everything to lose and you have enough excuses to justify never attempting it. You can bury it and keep it to yourself. But one day, maybe years from now, one friend is going to ask and you’ll have two options:

Tell everyone a story about your audacious, unattainable dream,
Or tell them a story about how you sacrificed everything for your dream to be your reality.

Maybe someone just needs to ask you, so you can speak it into life. What is your dream?