by Alastair Sterne
May 6, 2014
4 min read
Just a few weeks ago, my friend Sam looked me in the eyes and asked, “What’s your dream?” To be honest, I hadn’t considered this question in a long time. It may have even been a decade since anyone asked me. As I’ve gotten older, I’m no longer asked, “What is stirring in you? What are you dreaming about?” No. It’s now mostly, “What do you do?” or “Are you diversifying your investments?” I have to admit that I’ve left that sort of thinking behind with my youth. But once upon a time, it used to be my dreams, both big and small, that drove me.
I think we begin to stop dreaming because we know how dreams can crush us. Our dreams tend to circle around us, and our goals, and our ambitions, and our names being established. It doesn’t take much life experience, however, to realize that the world isn’t fair, that things don’t always go our way, and that a pinch of audacity with a dash of ambition isn’t a guaranteed recipe for achieving your wildest dreams. Sometimes when dreaming big doesn’t pan out, we start dreaming smaller to avoid disappointment. But almost inevitably, dreams shatter. The remnant shards litter our memories, and we walk through life more cautiously. And occasionally, we step on a fractured piece of that glass and we cut ourselves. Dreams can cause us to bleed, not only in the process of us giving them our all, but also because of the hurt of not seeing them come to fruition.
So we begin to avoid dreaming because of the pain it can cause. Dreaming is dangerous stuff. Cynicism births. We stop dreaming and we also stop others from dreaming. But what if we have lost the point of dreaming? Maybe dreaming isn’t about seeing what could be come to fruition. Sure, that happens now and again. But what if the point is the actual act of dreaming itself? What if the whole point is not allowing our imaginations to settle with what is, but to be stirred with what could be?
What if the whole point of dreaming is not allowing our imaginations to settle with what is, but to be stirred with what could be?
Dreaming isn’t supposed to be a denial of reality, or a way of escaping the bleakness of life. It’s the acceptance that what is, isn’t everything. When we accept reality not because it is good but because it’s “all that there is”, we are killing off a part of our humanity. We are meant to dream, to co-create with God. God is the God who brings possibilities out of impossibilities. God is the one who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20-21)
My friend Sam proposed that we stop asking one another, “How are you?” because it elicits robotic responses anyways, like “I’m good.” Rather, meaningful relationships could be developed by asking, “How’s the dream going?”
So in a room, sitting in a circle of friends, we attempted to answer this question: “What’s your dream?” Some, who may have been under 30, talked about big, hopeful aspirations of changing the world and finding deep meaning. Others, who may have a some grey in their hair, talked about dreaming of finding balance and of caring for their families well. What was beautiful about our different dreams was the difference. I can appreciate it now. When I was younger, I would have balked at the idea that someone couldn’t dream beyond wanting balance. But now, I can relate to the beauty of that dream. And yet, I still appreciate the change-the-world-give-it-all-you-can-don’t-stop-believing-you-can-do-it enthusiasm of my younger friends. And even more, I can appreciate the honesty of friends who say, “I don’t know what my dream is.”
God is a God of infinite possibilities, and I think we’re most human and most alive when we dream. We dream though, not only for the sake of seeing the dream come to reality, but for the sake of dreaming itself. On this side of eternity, the kingdom is not here in its entirety. There’s plenty of dreaming and changing to be done. On the other side of eternity, when God’s kingdom is completely on earth as it is in heaven, I do not think our dreaming will be finished. Rather, we will explore the unending heights and depths of God’s infinite and inexhaustible love.