Last night I traveled outside of Nashville to the famous Puckett’s Grocery, the original. It was quite the cultural experience. Puckett’s opened in 1953 as just a local grocery store but now functions as a bar and southern-style meat-and-three. It is also well known for its live music and many up and coming artists grace its cramped stage. Last night the featured entertainment was an almost 16 year old (it was his birthday bash) and his buddies. The first song he performed was actually the first song he wrote when he was barely a teenager. It’s title: “I Gotta Lot of Livin’ to Do.” I almost scoffed to myself, well actually I did scoff. “Thanks Captain Obvious Jr. for your amazing insight” I thought. Of course you have a lot of living to do – you are a child. I really wasn’t going to take this kid seriously because what could he possibly know about life. But as I listened to this young, talented singer/songwriter whose voice was pure (although it made Justin Bieber’s voice sound like Barry White), I realized that even though I am far more seasoned in life, he has something that I don’t. He has big dreams. He has a bright future ahead of him and the sky is the limit. I felt this way not too long ago but now many of those dreams are gone, smashed by my bad choices and my selfish sin. Because of that and the fact that I have crushed the hopes and dreams of others in my life, I don’t feel like a 34 year old. I feel like a 94 year old laying on his death bed full of regret. I feel that there will be no chance to start over, to dream big again. I have quickly regressed from adding to a bucket list that would make Morgan Freeman jealous to just trying to survive.
When is it OK to dream big again?
If I could go back to age 16 I would. A lot would change if I could. I can’t go back. The realization that it can never be reversed though as haunting as that is, brings peace as it sets in. I used to wonder if I were found out what would happen. It would often keep me up at night. Now that I know and am living my new reality, I can see and experience God more clearly. But can I dream again? This new reality is, in a way, a new prison. My old prison was addiction, sin, denial and deceit. It shut me off from God and others. It was bondage. I am now experiencing God’s forgiveness and giving that weight to Him. It isn’t easy because I am accustomed to hanging on to it all. But slowly I am learning to accept God’s love and forgiveness and maybe one day I can also forgive myself. But this is also a prison in a way. I am shut off from many that I love. I am grounded like a plane with a faulty engine. That may never change. Its not because I am shut off from God but there are natural earthly consequences that I must experience. Its just life. So the question for me at this stage of my life is can I dream again? If so, when? And what do those dreams look like? I know I need a vision for my life and I’m working that out every day. It gives me purpose. But do I put limits on that vision? I mean right now I feel guilty for even thinking beyond next month. It’s like if I start looking too far forward then I am ignoring what I have done and am trying to escape those consequences or something. I need to experience in full those consequences because God disciplines those that He loves. But I also believe that God blesses those who humble themselves. Can God bless me with big dreams again? When I was 16 I wanted to change the world. Seriously. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career I just knew I wanted to do something that would make the world a better place. That has always been my life vision. Being an international teacher allowed me to do just that. God gave me enormous favor. I was helping make the world a better place. I had a major influence and impact of kids who will be the future leaders of the world. Now I am homeless (relying on immediate family for pretty much everything) unemployed, facing a divorce, separated from my children and with very few realistic prospects to improve my situation. Reading all of that out loud is incredibly sobering. How can I even begin to dream again when I can barely keep my head above water?
His dreams becoming our dreams
The pastor at a well known church that I attended recently is doing a series called, “Dream Again.” He offers some great insight on what the Bible says about dreams. Turns out that the Bible mentions dreams a lot. It turns out that God is very interested in our dreams and one of the ways He speaks to us is in our literal dreams as we sleep. I know this first hand as God has given me dreams several times growing up. The series is mainly geared toward people who used to have big dreams for their life and for one reason or another have lost track of those original dreams they once possessed. He encourages people to never give up on their dreams, especially if it is a healthy dream geared to helping others. I once again felt alone in church. I didn’t just give up on my dreams like many people do. I destroyed those dreams myself!
I am struggling with this and also with the idea of God being enough to satisfy the void inside. If I dream big and its not necessarily the dream that God wants then is that sin? Is that the same sinful pattern I have grown so accustomed to? Or should I dream big and just make sure that God is at the center of my intentions? I’m going to go with the latter. I have to because I have to dream big again. At the same time I must be wise about what I thrive for and when. I must be sensitive to the severity of the situation that I have created. Its a fine line. God please give me the wisdom to walk it well.