On Following Your Dreams

I recently finished Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, (I definitely recommend it) and throughout the book she talks about following your dreams, making your dreams a reality, and imagining your dreams with such vividness that you can’t but assume they will be achieved. So naturally, I started asking myself “What are my dreams?” and, well, I was kind of stuck. Maybe it was the fact that for the last few months, life had been a little bit more of a valley than a peak, and therefore I was feeling unsure about myself and the life that, until recently, I’d been pretty darn proud of building. 

Getting a little panicky, I started barraging myself…have I lost my ability to dream? Have the difficulties and realities of life gotten to me so much that I can’t even dream big dreams anymore? Am I so caught up in my day to day that I can’t even think outside the box of my small world? Of course, my impatience does not help this kind of self talk tornado, so for the last few weeks I’ve been asking myself and God to reveal my “dreams” as if something huge would slap me in the face. 

When I was younger, I had intense dreams to travel abroad and be a huge international business mogul. This later turned into aspirations of working in academia and being an amazing professor who travels the world for research. While I did achieve my dream of traveling during college and post graduate, I got married afterwards and had kids, and well, everything changed. The reality of putting others needs before mine happened. It wasn’t just about me anymore. All my dreams changed, and not in a bad way, in a really good way but also a completely different way. The huge goals of being an international business mogul don’t hold quite the same luster they used to and I’m more prone to daydream about making my home beautiful and getting a lake home to make family memories at, but somehow these kinds of dream don’t seem like they are enough, not big enough – too boring.

Then, this past week, while listening to a Lenten reflection I felt a bit of an epiphany when I heard (I’m paraphrasing), “I believe that God’s dreams for me are far bigger than those I have for myself.” I have tried to trust that God will lead me by the right path (certainly not my spiritual strong point), even though I know nothing about it. Ultimately that’s all I can do. I have recently come to discover and find great peace in the fact that doing all things, especially the little things, with great love, detail, and gratitude drastically changes what could be seen as simple and mundane tasks in life into extraordinary moments. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dream or push hard for goals we want, but I think that sometimes just waiting, watching and discerning the paths that are being opened to us, exactly where we are planted, can lead to far greater paths than we could have ever imagined for ourselves.

Looking back, I can see throughout my life the hand of God guiding me. I somewhat tried to follow the paths that were opened to me and that made the most “sense.” During the times where I chose paths that were clearly not right for me, life was rough, and not make you stronger kind of rough, but make you fall apart and pull you away from what is good in life. When I chose what felt right and true (not necessarily easy or simple), I became a better version of myself and opportunities continued to reveal themselves. Many of these paths have been long and challenging and I didn’t always feel certain in the thick of it that I was truly doing the right thing. I realize how vague this may all sound and it kind of is but my favorite prayer reveals the depth of this life long struggle we all have, and it fills me up when I’m feeling uncertain about life’s paths:

“I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton

Trusting that God will reveal his dreams for us when the time is right and then working each day with love is all we can do.