I open the big door without knocking, and all of my senses wake up. I breathe in a sweetness, something like a fruit orchard, and I don’t know where to look first. A wall-hanging of reeds woven whimsically and highlighted with hot pink catches my eye, then I quickly scan the room for more spring color. It’s everywhere.
I’ve just walked into work. Yes, work.
I recently began working in a retail space that was actually a place I’d walk into when I was having a grey sort of day — before I was employed there. I wouldn’t go in to shop or partake in a bit of “retail-therapy,” I’d just go in to gaze and soak up the beauty … and dream.
This may sound a bit over-the-top, but I am a creative person. I can sometimes become a bit zealous about things — even kitchen gadgets, wall hangings, and hardware. Colors, patterns, and others’ handiwork give me visions of creating, and dreams of experiencing life beyond the routine.
And yet, I realized something about myself recently. I don’t always dream as lofty as I once did.
I have a six-year-old grandson, and boy, does he know how to use his imagination and dream. He talks about ninjas like they’re his friends and he wants to build a real moving robot for me. The best part is this: He’s not afraid to say what he’s thinking and hopes to do, because he truly believes it.
Isn’t that what faith sounds like?
Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God'” ( Mark 10:27).
I’m not going to be the one to tell him it sounds ridiculous, or will be too hard to accomplish. He’ll learn that from everyone else around him quickly enough.
We don’t live in a world that’s always the most dreamer-friendly. That’s why I give my imagination freedom at work where I’m inspired at every turn. The bright paper tropical birds and cardboard hot-air-balloons allow me the privilege. And that’s why I like to steal one-on-one time with my grandson. He challenges me to think beyond my own grown-up world and dream all the “I can” thoughts I’ve had from time to time — and push away the adult fear.
Even more so, I crave the times of soaking in God’s presence, listening for His faith-stirring voice, and cheering on my dreams.
But all too often I am reminded of the realities that I have to face: finances that aren’t always available, broken relationships not yet mended, and hopes to reach and touch people and places on this planet I haven’t yet.
I’m afraid to venture back into a lot of the dreams I’ve had because many of them once crumbled and failed right before my eyes. You don’t have to be very old to know disappointment and failure — especially when you’re a creative dreamer.
I can only compare it to the day in the future my darling grandson may come to me and say, “Grama, I’m sorry … I couldn’t figure out how to build you a real robot.” Then what? Tell him to stop dreaming because most dreams are too hard?
Fear and failure crowd out faith, and the enemy robs us of the joy in dreaming — dreams that God has given. One mistake, wrong turn, or even full-on failure doesn’t erase the beautiful journey God has us on.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I once dreamed of adopting a child from another part of the world and by God’s grace, we did. I once wanted desperately to take the hand of others and help them do the very same thing. I can’t say I’ve done that … yet. I once dreamed I would write a book telling all the tales that allowed us to bring our adopted Brazilian son home. Documents and papers fill my computer and my box of journals, but I doubt anyone could follow the plot. No book has been written … yet.
I could probably fill a page or two with dreams I’ve had that I wish were still part of my regular “to-do list.” But many of those seem too extreme, too expensive, or too emotionally exhausting. Many of them seem to fall under the category of “someone once told me it wasn’t practical” and so I dropped it.
The day in the future my precious grandson comes to me with an unrealistic God-dream, I’ll be sure to cheer him on, reminding him all the disappointment is worth it when he follows his heart and uses the gifts God has given him to bring beauty and joy into the lives of others around him.
And then I’ll take my advice to heart, pick myself up, and keep dreaming.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Darlene Schacht, author of Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages and co-author of Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
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