There are certain kinds of quotes that drive me crazy about dreams. Nothing against the author of quotes like this, but they are vague. Things like, “reach for the stars,” and “the bigger you dream, the more potential you have for it” and “she believed she could so she did.” Quotes like this merely say, “go ahead and dream.” But that’s it. It’s like saying, here are the things on my “bucket list” and we talk and talk about them but that’s it. We kind of live like it’s not actually possible. Like we don’t really believe it will happen.
Sadly, I admit I lived much of my life this way. And I still can, allowing fear to take over rather than faith.
I lived with the dream of staying home with my kids for eight years, without taking any real steps to make it happen until my spirit couldn’t take it anymore and I took a leap of faith and just left.
I lived with dreams of homeschooling my kids but that required me to be home. See above dream I waited on.
I lived with the dream to start a blog, finally put words to paper and it took me more than five years of saying I was going to do it to finally do it. I spent much of those five years dreaming without putting steps in place to make it happen.
I’m living with big dreams for my family that I’m daring to put out there. I’m living with other dreams that I’ve put on paper for my eyes only.
What I’ve learned in the past few years of dreaming and finally doing something about those dreams, is that they don’t really mean much if we’re not actually taking steps towards them. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming and having goals and trusting God for the details of those goals, don’t get me wrong. But we can’t just sit on our dreams and expect God to just work them out without actually taking our own steps towards them. That’s how we act on faith, not just to believe what God can do, but to take steps towards it in the natural, praying and trusting with Him as we walk out that faith.
I think (and this is my humble opinion) that as Christians, we only allow ourselves to dream so much. We limit what can happen because our faith doesn’t really think it’s possible. Sometimes I think we actually limit in our minds what God can do because we put Him in this box of what He can and cannot do. We base that a lot on what we see and know from experience. We claim our eyes are up but somehow our feet being on the ground means more.
I may have quoted this before but A. W. Tozer makes me chew on things a bit until they really set. “God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible– what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves.” Perhaps it’s that way with us and dreaming.
I’m still learning this, friends. I’m not an expert at going after my dreams or anything. But this is my year to dare. And I’m daring to dream.
Maybe because I’ve been thinking about this so much, that I had a lot of revelations while putting together a puzzle over the past week. And no, I have nothing better to do with my time since my life is so put together all the time and my house is always neat and tidy and my kids are perfectly behaved.
Sarcasm, in case you missed it.
My kids love puzzles and the last 500 piece we did was fun, but it didn’t take us too long to put it together. We have a few 1000 piece puzzles we haven’t tackled yet, so we decided to give one a go this week. (Did I really just write “give one a go?” Too much Peppa Pig in this house. Or Kipper. Or one of those characters).
When you’re trying to live small and ask God to reveal Himself to you in the everyday moments of life, I promise you, He will. As I was working on the puzzle this week, thinking about dreaming, I felt all kinds of revelations coming to me about dreams, because completing a puzzle is very much like going after the things you dream about. Nothing here is rocket science, I promise. Hopefully in the midst of me preaching to myself, it will offer you a bit of encouragement in going after those things you feel God’s put on your heart. So here’s my two cents on dreaming.
1.Your dream is unique to you.
Okay, yes, maybe your dream is a bit like someone else’s dream or a bit like something you’ve seen someone else doing. But God will uniquely lay it on your heart. In a way that is just for you. Puzzle pieces might have the same shape, but the color and patterns are different, which is why there’s only one way to put it together. You might want to do something similar to someone else but you’ll find your own way to do it with your own talent. In a way that God has uniquely designed you to do it.
2. It’s overwhelming at first, you just have to take one step, then another.
Starting a puzzle can be intimidating. 1000 puzzle pieces staring at you inside the box makes it seem overwhelming. You need a strategy. Maybe you make the border first or put like colors together but it only happens one piece at a time. Find one piece, then the next. Likely your dream is the same way. It seems like so much when you think about it all at once. It might even feel impossible. But it starts with one step. Take one step, then another.
3. At first, you know the big picture, but not how all the pieces fit together.
The picture on the box helps you know what the end result will be. You don’t know how those pieces will fit together, but you know they will eventually. They’ll start to fall into place and then the big picture will become more clear. Just like dreaming. It’s easy to have a grand idea, but it’s not always easy to know the steps and know how to get the pieces together.
4. Take breaks when you need to. You can’t do it all at once.
Unless you’re participating in a puzzle marathon or competition (if those even exist), you’ll likely need to take a break from it. Set goals, take steps, but walk away when you need to. Don’t expect it to happen overnight and don’t expect to know all the answers right away.
5. Sometimes you’re looking for the right piece and can’t find it and sometimes you’re not looking for it and you see it right away.
I think we often go after something and expect we know how it will work out. We think our timeline is best and we think we know what’s circumstances will best fit in our plan. Sometimes we can force our way and that piece just doesn’t fit in. And sometimes when we think something isn’t the right choice, it ends up being the perfect fit. Which is why we just need to give all the choices over to God and trust He’s putting them together in the right time and the right way.
6. Sometimes pieces get lost because you have a toddler who can’t keep his hands away from it. Ever. And then you have to dig in the couch and shake out the rugs and claw under the furniture to find the pieces.
Oh, wait. Maybe that’s just when you have a Judah in your house. Although, I’m pretty sure there will be people who shake up your dream. Doubters. Jealous ones. Those who want you to fail. It’s not easy when that happens but you press on.
7. Sometimes you need help.
You can stubbornly put together a 1000 piece puzzle alone and be successful and feel rather accomplished But likely, help is appreciated at some point along the way. Maybe with your dream you need help getting started, help brainstorming, help with just sharing it and getting it out there or help seeing it to the end. That’s okay. We all need it.
8. Even if you have missing pieces at the end, it’s okay.
Nothing is ever perfect. Dreams and goals are a work in progress. And even if you have all the pieces, you’re going to have to put the puzzle away anyway. So when your dream is realized, it just means you need to have another dream. As C. S. Lewis says, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
9. Once you start, it’s kind of hard to stop.
The hardest part of a puzzle is getting started. But once you do, it pulls at you. It makes you want to have a dirty house forever and eat beans from a can until you’ve completed it. I’d like to believe that going after what you’re dreaming about is like that. Once you start taking steps, it motivates you to keep going.
10. No dream is too big and no dream is too small.
Some dreams are small, like a 100 piece puzzle. Some are huge and seem overwhelming, like a 1000 piece puzzle (or a 5000 piece puzzle for crazy people). But all puzzles are solved the same way. Piece by piece. All dreams happen over time. Step. By step. By step.
What are you dreaming about? I encourage you to take a step, even if it’s just one piece of your big puzzle. It’s one less piece along the journey to figure it out.