When I was a little girl, Sesame Street came to our town. My mom said that one of the actresses kept putting the microphone in front of me to sing into and I would suddenly sing very, very quiet. While I don’t believe this was a moment that would have launched me into stardom, I often consider it to be one of those moments when my life could have gone a completely different way.
And I’m so very glad it didn’t.
Many of us have dreams and when they don’t pan out, we immediately consider ourselves robbed. Sometimes, when the dream really matters, we get angry at others that we feel stood in the way of our dreams coming true…parents, siblings, friends, spouses, and even God. We find that we become the kinds of people that dream in reverse, which is really just bemoaning lost opportunities in the past, and wishing that our lives were different.
When I dream in reverse, I see the trajectory that life in the spotlight would have brought to me, a complex woman with major issues in the realm of self-esteem and self-compassion and a desire to be seen for who I really am, loved and accepted and valued. Should that spotlight have been placed on me, my life would be completely different.
And not for the better.
It’s rather funny, in fact, because I make flippant comments like, “Well, when I marry Chris Pine, this and this will happen,” and “Well, when I’m famous, then this and this will happen,” fully aware that I have no desire whatsoever for either scenario to play out. Okay, well, maybe the first one. I mean, it’s Chris Pine!
But, seriously, would I have been a Christian if I were famous? Would I have ever turned to God or would I have become angry and bitter and would I have never cherished the treasures in my life? I think, okay I know, that I would have given away my very soul to maintain the fame that is so fickle and fleeting. My Twitter and Facebook would be filled with selfish and pompous declarations of how great I believed myself to be, exhibiting my foolishness by expressing my opinions as fact and having my fans follow mindlessly along. My Instagram feed would have been filled with selfies upon selfies and I would definitely have an eating disorder. I know that I would have tried drugs and consumed a great deal of alcohol and my career would eventually die out because people would hate to work with such a prideful and mean woman whose acting would be subpar at best. I would be so lonely, even with the promiscuity I would have engaged in, and I would die in a horrid way, because it’d either be drug/alcohol related or suicide.
And this is what I know and can honestly reveal without any flinching, because I know who I could very possibly be without Christ.
And you know who you’d be, too. We try to deny it, to pretend that we would still be who we are, regardless, but the truth of the matter is that we would be completely different people. I consider myself blessed to never have achieved fame.
Yet, the dream of that fame power still comes sometimes, like when I’m at Disneyland and it’s overly crowded and I’m a face in that madness and I think, for one day, how awesome it would be to be a VIP in the Park for one solid day. I don’t need much more than that, truthfully. Just one day of elite treatment. The truth is, of course, that I would want more, because the magic of that day and the addiction to that feeling would be strong and would ruin the rest of my “normal” times at the Park.
Sometimes, I say, “I just need 500 thousand dollars. That’s it. I’m not greedy.” But, we all know that once we get to a certain place, we desire more and more and more and more, and satisfaction is fleeting. So, would I be satisfied with even 10 thousand dollars or 50 thousand? Would satisfaction ever come? Considering that many that win the lottery end up worse off than they started and quicker than one would imagine and that the suicide rate is high, well, let’s just say that money and that dream is definitely not for me, either.
Now, the one that most dream of: beauty and attractiveness. Ah, that fleeting head turning power and ability to take photos without filters and angles and just be beautiful. I immediately think of Catherine Zeta-Jones when I think of that kind of beauty. You may have someone else in mind. But, I can pretty much promise that someone came to mind when you read the word. It could even be someone in your immediate circle. Now, being a woman, I feel that I kind of leave the men out of my blogs. I’m not even sure that men read my blogs, truthfully. But I do know that some men struggle with this area, as well. They can see the handsome or toned man in their mind that they believe women desire and they, in some small or large way, wish they could be the man that women desired. So, I think about things like my weight and my health and the fact that my forehead is large and I don’t exactly have grace when I walk and move, and I imagine what life would be like without the burden of “ugliness” upon me. But, in this regard, I thankfully love food a little too much to deny myself in a dangerous way, which is good and bad, of course, and I would not do the surgeries because I have this horrid habit of looking into things and once I know things, like what actually happens in a facelift procedure, well, you can’t unlearn that sort of thing. And, with all of that, the desire of beauty if fleeting, just as beauty itself is, and I can shrug my shoulders and move on from there.
So, you may be wondering, what in the world is the point? I wish I knew! Just kidding. The point is, of course, that we need to stop dreaming in reverse. We need to stop being angry at God because we can’t see the full tapestry yet. We can’t see His design clearly yet. The things that we longed for could very well have been our undoing, our death, and our turning away from Him forever.
And, while some of you reading this may be thinking, “I’ve already turned away from Him because He didn’t give me my dreams,” I am here to tell you that He loves you so much. His love is beyond the comprehension and words of this writer. And, the dreams denied are not due to Him not caring. In truth, I’d say they’re denied because He cares more than anyone else ever will…including you! That sounds so foreign, I know, because we believe that our concern for our own success and well-being would trump everyone presumably caring for us, but it’s not true. So the opposite with Jesus.
While fame, money, and beauty were all things that I held firmly in my little dream box, they just weren’t something that would have created the Julie before you, the one that writes blogs that are painfully transparent and honest at times, the Julie that is in her Senior Year for her BSW at ENMU as I type this, the Julie that is a part of a church and is a member of the Pastoral Staff and is healed after 7 years of hurt, a Julie that desires to help people and not use them for my own means. That Julie would not exist if even one of those dreams above had come true.
There have been storms in my life and I have three major regrets that I just can’t shake. I’ve lived through abuse and betrayal and bondage and I’ve lost so much in the journey, but I’ve gained Jesus Christ and all that He has for me. I’ve gained life eternal, you see, outside of the temporal. I’ve gained peace that surpasses understanding, joy that flows like a wellspring from somewhere deep inside, wisdom to face the things of this world with confidence, and trust that no matter what happens, Jesus Christ is at my side and He is never, ever caught by surprise.
Each morning, I don my armor. I put on the helmet of salvation and pray that my mind is guarded against the distracting and dark thoughts of the world, that my thoughts will focus on the godly things, not the worldly things, and that I’d have the wisdom to know the difference. I put on the breastplate of righteousness and pray that my heart, as it is being made flesh again, would be protected from the poison of this world, that its purity would be maintained and renewed each day, that my entire being would be aligned under the Spirit of God, in order to be a conduit through which He flows through me and into the people around me, His anointing and love and peace and grace and, yes, correction. I put on the belt of truth and pray that I will know His truth over the lies of the world and that I would speak His truth in love and that I would never use His truth to harm another, that I would be sensitive to His timing and that His words are the ones spoken, not my own for my own selfish reasons and agenda.
I put on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and pray that I will be prepared to go where He sends me and to do what He calls me to do, with boldness and sincerity, that I would not waiver from the path He’s set before me, and that I am prepared to go and share the Good News with all that I encounter and that I would run to wage battle beside others and never leave them to fight the battles alone. I put on the shield of faith and pray that I cling to the true character of Jesus Christ, that I trust in who I know Him to be, that I trust in who His Word says He is, and that I use that trust to thwart the fiery darts of the enemy, darts of fear and annoyance and bitterness and doubt and anger. I take up the sword of the Spirit and pray that God’s Word would be made real to me and that I would wield the sword with precision and grace, that I would never use it to harm others, but only to defend and to bring divine separation of truth and lies and allow the Lord to bring the correction and the healing that is needed, that I never wield it to further my own plans in my life or the lives of others.
While our dreams may never be realized, what we must realize is that God has better dreams. I always think of the Casting Crowns song that portrays God asking His children to let Him dream for them, because His dreams for us are far better than the dreams we have for ourselves.
I am not encouraging you to stop dreaming, but rather, to place your dreams in the hands of a loving Father and let Him mold and shape those dreams for the very best that He has for you and, when the dream is returned to you altered from that which you believed you wanted and needed, thank Him for His amazing attention to detail and to His devotion to who you really are and who He wants you to be and take those dreams and run full tilt toward them with Jesus by your side.
And stop dreaming in reverse.