Monday, October 3, 2011

The Renewing Mind/Sensitive Geek Man: The Death of Dreams

When I was a kid, I dreamed about being a chemist. Anyone who knows me and my relationship with math will understand why that is absurd.

But as we grow up, so do our dreams. At some point our seemingly rational mind develops its hopes, its dreams for what we will be.

My senior year of high school, I had to make a choice of what to major in. I narrowed it down to 3 choices: Theater, Music, and Writing. In the wisdom of an 18 year old, semi-privileged boy-man, I chose music, specifically Vocal Performance. I figured that I could learn to act on my own or through the music theater training I expected to receive, and I didn’t think I needed to go to school for writing.

I am not going to go into grand detail about my school experience; I just bring that up to illustrate my fledgling dreams. I wanted to perform, be creative, and create people and worlds. These were the direction I thought would let me do that.

One by one they have almost all crumbled. I could go into the sob stories about why they have, but as I look back on them I realize a few things.
There came a point with each where the effort and sacrifice required was no longer worth the supposed pay off and I stopped. I didn’t have to—as much as I thought I had no choice at the time. I abandoned them, although not from lack of desire for the art itself as much as the ‘extras’ that surrounded the art. My fear is that I stopped due to laziness or silliness.
The biggest problem was, simply, that my dreams were about me. They were selfish, self-absorbed, self-glorifying, and somewhat narcissistic endeavors. Perhaps they didn’t have to be, but they were because I made one very critical error.

I didn’t put Christ at the center of my future.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 12, and I grew up in a Christian family before that. Christ has always been part of my life in some way. When I accepted Him as my Savior and Lord, I was bequeathed the firmest foundation possible upon which to build this life. I made the mistake of not including Him enough in the actually building process.

So here I had a beautiful, strong Rock upon which to build the house of my life, and I built a gaudy mansion of garbage.

So, slowly but surely, that mansion had been torn down, slowly and painfully. I have tried to make my hopes more Christ-centered, but it seems that I still have some sort of learning to do, as they have all crumbled as well.

As much as I was (and still sometimes am) angry and sad about losing them, as much as I miss them, I now can see that their death was possibly the best thing that could have happened. They were dreams made of diaphanous debris. They would have accomplished nothing of real worth in and of themselves. They need to die in order that God could replace them with Himself.

As a believer, Jesus should replace all my dreams. He should be the reason for everything I do. He should be where I put my effort, where my mind wanders when I am thinking about grand and glorious things. When I think of my life, I should be thinking how it serves Him. When I think of myself, I should only see Christ reflected back. These other things are truly dreams: fleeting wisps, folly, a chasing after the wind.

One of those follies remains. My desire to write has not yet been crushed. I am determined to sanctify it. I see now that it must serve if it is to be useful. Any tool that does not serve is thrown into the fire. Writing is not a dream, imagination and wordsmithing are not the dream, they are the tools I use to pursue the Christ.

Really, all of life is a dream, a nightmare from which we will all one day wake. Only those in Christ will wake to Life.

So, I encourage you: Look at your life and find the dreams and frivolous hopes that must die. Perhaps the Lord will have compassion and He will sanctify those follies into tools for you, but do not hang on to them in that hope. It only makes it harder. See those things and do whatever you need to get them out of the way.
And don’t be fooled, this is a life-long struggle. I have to put down my broken dreams every day. It is never completely painless. But one day I will wake and look into the eyes of my Lord. On that day every true desire of my heart will find fulfillment. On that day all dreams will pale in comparison to the reality that is the presence of God. On that day, I will laugh at how frivolous all my earthly hopes were and then I will forget them.
On that day, there will be too much celebration and joy to even consider past sufferings.

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