As a child, I learned that dreaming was not worth it. I’d watch from the outside as people around me would play and have fun. They seemed free from burden while I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I always envied their freedom, their ability to push life aside and go on grand adventures. On the rare occasion that a dream would start to form, I would quickly tell my heart to push it down because there was too much to do and we didn’t have time for that. Life was about survival, and survival required responsibility and focus. Eventually, I forgot about dreaming. I accepted the fact that I was the responsible administrative type. And I was really okay with that. I actually liked that part of myself.
It wasn’t until I was under the leadership of two pastors who are big dreamers that I remembered that dreaming was a thing… but I was still skeptical. They would share ideas and I would think, “There’s no way that will happen. It’s too big. Why do they want more? Aren’t they satisfied with what they have?” My default mode was to accept what I had and label it “Contentment”. I mean, contentment is a good thing, right? It can be, unless you’re stuck accepting crumbs from the floor while God is offering you a seat at the banquet table.
Over time, and many tearful prayers, God showed me that I was putting Him in a box. He, and everything He offered, was easier to make sense of if I contained it. Needless to say, this led to a malnourished understanding of my identity and all of the gifts God has for me. My prayer changed from seeking contentment to one of revival of the adventurous little girl I never got to be. I pleaded with Him to awaken a spirit of adventure and creativity within me.
During one powerful prayer time, God showed me how He protected that little girl. It was a picture of me wrapped in His arms as He fought off the pain and struggles I faced. In the picture, He eventually led me to my adult self, almost as a reintroduction of the parts I left behind. It was an awakening for sure. I learned that the self protection I needed as a child was for my safety, but as an adult it was no longer necessary. What was once my freedom became my prison. But God offered me healing and true freedom from unhealthy patterns and awakened my heart to dream.
The journey to healing is just that - a journey. It has ups and downs, twists and turns, joy and sadness. But the promises God makes in His Word are the anchor we must cling to. We can’t shy away from healing or closeness with God. For that is where our true self is discovered.