One of my favorite poems (ever since we read A Raisin in the Sun freshman year) is Langston Hughes’ A Dream Deferred. I think humans by nature are dreamers, doers, but the poem poses a great question — What happens to a dream left unfulfilled? Does it fester and begin to weigh at our very souls as we lose hope in its realization? Or does it burst forth when we can no longer contain it?
I think the same can be said of sharing our dreams with others. As an introvert, I find sharing my dreams to be terrifying. There’s generally a slow start, but once it’s out in the open, it almost explodes forth into the world. I rush headlong, exclaiming, “Here I am, this is my dream, AND I AM GOING FOR IT!” And then…regret sets in. “Should I have shared that?” and, “What if it won’t come true?” As if I’ll jinx any chance of realizing them by sharing.
Worse still are the reactions of others. People criticize. They poke holes. They copy. They steal. Believe me, there is nothing worse than sharing your dreams and life goals with someone (we’re talking God-planted and inspired for YOU), only to have them mocked or systematically imitated.
But we don’t have to concern ourselves with the response of others, because (and so often I forget) our dreams are between us and God FIRST; and their reactions have NOTHING to do with that relationship. When others don’t believe in us or our dreams and we ourselves begin to doubt, we need to lift our eyes up off the waves and squarely place them back on Jesus. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). If I am focusing on my relationship with Christ, then I am already plugged into His plans for my life. Jeremiah 29:11 anyone?
Plus, we don’t need to talk God into our plans. Seriously, stop it. He loves us and He is already for us. Instead, of trying to get Him to come around, we need to lay out the desires of our hearts for God to winnow. When I take the gifts He’s given me with the things that stir my mind and set my heart ablaze and lay them at His feet, He’s been waiting for me all along. His plans are perfect, and in His timing, He’s ready for us to get some serious stuff done. Dissenters can’t touch what you’re going to accomplish once you’ve sought God’s will and His help.
And if you’re a dreamer and a doer, chances are you’ve encountered not only dream bashers, but dream copiers as well. Frustrating, I know. But remember, the dream that God is building in your life began as a tiny stirring inside your own heart, continually refined in your own relationship with Him. To externally mimic the outcome of where God’s brought you is similar to trying to live out the Fruits of the Spirit without…well…the Spirit. In short, they provide another distraction from the work you should be doing. Seek first the Kingdom, keep that pride in check, and give your faith some legs–Get going!
Plus, the people that criticize or chase after your dreams generally do so only because they have no dreams of their own. So, even when it’s hard, pray for them. Pray that God opens their eyes to how fearfully and wonderfully made they are. Pray they are able to recognize His presence and the dreams He has in store for them and their unique gifts, talents and abilities. And whatever you do, do not let anyone stop you from sharing your dreams. Even if it outwardly looks as if you’re following, what matters most is your own obedience to God — “Be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7b).
When we share our dreams, not out of vanity, but because they will literally burst forth if we do not, they carry the power of inspiration, encouragement. Our dreams show the world that the impossible is possible through Jesus Christ for their lives, their families. There is joy abundant when we chase those dreams. What a dull place the world would be if everyone was silently dreaming and doing all alone. Because when we share, His help so often comes in the form of others. Our sisters and brothers and friends who step up and affirm us and our dreams, saying, “Let me help,” “I know about that,” “Let’s get started.”