Dreams bring with them the kind of euphoria that comes from triumphing over an unknowable foe. When we dream, we are unstoppable. Possibilities spill forth, vivid, like party streamers - colorful, joyous, free. Our minds rush to link together problems with solutions, transforming "if" into "when" and "someday" into "now". In our imaginations, there are no unopened doors, no keyless locks, no hidden treasure chests. When we dream, we are unable to hear the voices that remind us we are finite. Fallible. Fearful.
Most often, those voices are our own.
My husband has big dreams. The people who know him, and love him, best often simply laugh when he shares his dreams. "Ross," they say, "You don't have the experience to do that." Or, "Why would you want to do that? Aren't you happy with what you have?" Or, the worst: "What if you screw up?"
I have said these very things to him myself. Fear grips me, sometimes, and I speak out of panic or distress. "Ross," I screech, "why do you want to flip a house when our own is falling apart?" I coo, "Honey, why do you want to buy another gun when you never shoot the ones you already have?" I squawk, "Why are you trying to get a job across the country when everything we love is right here?"
I peck away at his dreams even as I try to create a comfortable, happy nest for us both. I am not unflappable. I am clipping Ross's wings because I myself have forgotten how to fly.
This weekend, I remembered how to dream.
I traveled back to my alma mater, Clarion University, to meet with other theatre alumni for an informal memorial service. We wanted to say good-bye to Melissa Lynch, our talented and beautiful peer, who died unexpectedly late last year. About twenty or so of us got together and said our farewells with bawdy stories, silly memories, and some tears. Melissa was different than many of us, we learned, because Melissa's dreams had been forcibly pressed through the sieve of life - and become her reality. In fact, the reason Melissa held joy and success in her tiny, nail-bitten hands was because it was she herself who had grappled with those dreams and shoved them through that potentially destructive thing called life. Dreams, to her, were never a far-off hazy vision of a future that could someday be. To her, they were wild mustangs meant to inspire and delight - and, ultimately, be broken, tamed, and commanded.
I never had talent to rival Melissa's. Thank God we were never up for the same roles, or I may have grown to dislike and envy her, rather than admire her. Even as I remember her, I admit the hot sting of jealousy pricks at me, and I plaintively wonder why my life has turned out the way it has. Do not misunderstand me - I would never want any man other than Ross by my side, nor would I trade my family - as wacky as they are - for any others. I would not have given up my years at Starbucks for tireless nights playing the chorus in a Broadway play. Yet...there is something beyond what I have. Something bigger. Something greater.
The Bible tells us that Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel, was a dreamer. His dreams came directly from the Living God...and his sharing them got him into big trouble with his jealous family. He was sold, thrown into prison, and left to die. Joseph was mourned by his father, despised by his brothers, forgotten by all...he feared...except his God. God orchestrated the events to eventually pull Joseph out of prison garments and straight into royal robes. Joseph's childhood dreams came true in a literal sense when his brothers, starving in Canaan, bowed to him as they begged for food in Egypt. The story of Joseph ends joyfully with redemption, forgiveness, and restoration; no wonder it was turned into a Broadway musical!
I believe that our big dreams often do come from God. How we proceed to chase after them, however, is up to us. How we respond to them, too, is up to us. We can trust Him who is bigger than our biggest dreams to help us achieve them, or we can convince ourselves that our God will abandon us and our dreams, leaving us empty and confused.
I am coming into a place where I am learning, again, what it means to trust in an unseen God. I am learning that he gives my husband dreams as he gives me dreams. The difference is that Ross sees his dreams - however far-fetched - as God's way of reminding him that there is something bigger and better for him, that he is not abandoned, that his talents will someday result in success and achievement...and I -and others - have seen his dreams as inconvenient and foolish.
I am ready to start dreaming again. I am ready to take the dreams God gave me long ago, hold them tenderly, and allow him to breathe into their lifeless forms again. I am ready to allow him to outfit me with the wings of his making - not mine -and guide me to a place that I could not imagine before now.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I am ready to fly.