So, you’ve reached the age when time starts speeding up. Days are slow but weeks and months fly by and just forget about years. Life has been galloping circles all around you, and you’re not as good as you used to be at ignoring certain nagging questions. “Am I too old now?” “Did I miss something along the way?” “Are cargo shorts still cool if you live in the Northwest?”
You’ve got all these dreams knocking around inside your head. When you were younger you thought everything would just happen. Your life’s course would unroll before you like a red carpet. Destiny was unstoppable, God had a plan. But wasn’t God supposed to drop that plan into your inbox about ten years ago? You feel like you’re still waiting to get started.
This is not a post about giving up on your dreams. Well, maybe it is just a little bit.
Charlie Peacock has long been one of my favorite artists. He’s an eclectic, imaginative musician whose lyrics are vivid and meaningful. I have fond memories of my teenage self puttering around in my room with his album, Love Life, streaming out of my bulky CD player. You know, the ones with detachable speakers, so great. He is better known today as the producer of bands like Switchfoot, The Civil Wars, and The Lone Bellow.
As I plunge ever deeper into my thirties, one of his songs in particular often plays on my internal soundtrack.
The chorus of William and Maggie goes like this:
“…I’ve been thinking about you and me, and everybody in between,
It seems we’ve suffered one too many dreams of things that weren’t so bad,
It’s just they were never things that we could trust,
Are we still pretending they’re enough?”
We human beings are natural dreamers. We can’t help it. They start at the earliest age.
“When I grow up…”
Often our youngest dreams are wild, wonderful and unlikely. It’s a hard truth but the fact is, no matter how much we pined away and proclaimed our intentions to the world, Dinosaur Wrangler is just a dead profession.
As we got older, the world came into better focus and our dreams became more realistic, although “beautiful” and “unlikely” were still closely connected elements. Dreams, as they grow, tend to take on an increasingly noble attitude. We discovered that the world needed saving. Our dreams took on more definite shapes. We began to love our dreams, so much so that we infused them with the substance of our identities.
Artist, entrepreneur, athlete, missionary.
The more we dreamed, the more we saw ourselves not just doing these things, but being these things and that’s where the trouble lies. That’s why it can be so terrifying to think about giving up on a dream.
Listen, this is something I have to remind myself of often; we are much more than our occupations. It’s only natural for us to allow our personalities and idiosyncrasies to inform our vocational aspirations but we must not allow our vocations to define who we are. We are relational beings. Relationship is the most fundamental, most valuable thing we are capable of. I am not a minister, a photographer, a worship leader or a tile setter. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father and a friend.
These roles are infinitely more valuable than the most noble vocation. It’s time we stopped pretending our dreams are enough to define us or justify our lives.
The only thing in life significant enough to give us that definitional gravity is relationship. Ultimately the only titles that can satisfy the questions of our identity are the titles, son of God and daughter of God.
So, time to give it up?
“Maggie, by whom all hearts were measured, kissed William softly on the cheek and said,
‘Sometimes William… William sometimes you’ve got to open up the windows
And let the wind blow through.'”
Dreams change over time. Sometimes it’s not the dream itself that changes but the version of the dream that we had been chasing.
For some of us letting the wind blow through means realizing that we have some more subtle dreams, just below the surface. They are so constant that we don’t always realize they are there. It’s time we rediscover the everyday passions that we take for granted. For some of us it may mean an adjustment of scale. Maybe you won’t ever be a rockstar but you may be a wonderful local worship leader. You might not become the nation shaking evangelist but you could become the only christian voice your neighbors are willing to listen to.
“The famous are rarely significant and the significant are rarely famous”
Maybe, we need to allow the Father to shed some light on the true motives behind our dreams. If we are willing I believe He will remind us why we love a given dream, or He will reveal what deep internal hole we’ve been trying to fill up with our aspirations.
Perhaps we’ll find we need to dream bigger. God may blow the dust off a dream and say its time to step it up. He might ask us to change a casual pursuit into a set of goals and calculated risks.
Never stop dreaming. Don’t neglect the callings of your life. But from time to time, can we be brave enough to let God’s wind blow through so that those dreams can be dusted off, cleared away, or maybe born again?
“When your fondest dreams die… Jesus opens up doors to greater glory”
-George Washington Carver