I find it really funny and a little embarrassing that now that I have started blogging again, I hear phrases in my everyday conversations and I think, “Goodness, that would make a great blogpost title.” Even if I don’t exactly know what I would write about pertaining to the phrase. Some things people say though…I just think, there’s some meat there. Silly? Maybe. We’ll see. Because I’m doing it now and probably will again.
I joined a community group at the church I’m a part of here in Nash this past week. We had our first meeting Sunday evening. As we went around the room, each sharing the basics about ourselves – hometown, college, job, how long we’ve lived in the city – someone noticed how we all have very different interests and careers, and as many of us are new to town, the conversation also turned to commenting on the culture of the city itself and its inhabitants. Nashville is full of artists, writers, business people, filmmakers, non-profit pioneers, and of course, musicians. “It’s such a dreamer town”, one of the girls simply yet brilliantly summarized. “Everyone moves here to make it big, and they end up working at Whole Foods, but they are of course working on their *project* on the side”, she continued. She wasn’t being mean, or even belittling the dreamers. It’s just true. I know because I’m pretty much doing the same thing and know several others who are, too. It’s a fun place to be.
In our group, we are going to be reading through Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. It’s about idols of the heart and how we all have them. Even if you don’t know what that phrase means yet, I hate (actually, I’m glad) to break it to you…but you’ve got ’em. An idol is anything or anyone you’re tempted to love and serve more than God. Idolatry pretty much define fallen humanity.
Keller wrote the book in 2009, for a great many reasons I’m sure, but specifically in response to the economic crisis of 2008. The devastation for many businesses and individuals resulted in the suicides of several prominent men. Something, or the success of something, had obviously become more important than continuing the lives they were given to live. A dear dream, maybe – a dream that had more than likely become a basis for personal identity. An idol.
“Most people spend their lives trying to make their heart’s fondest dreams come true,” Keller writes in the first chapter. Whoa yeah. Maybe it’s not a “I WILL be Taylor Swift one day” dream (woops just gave mine away). It could be “my kids will have everything I didn’t have when I was growing up” or “I’ll be the top of my graduating class” or “My work will be published one day” or “this person will love me, this person has to love me”. Or, “I will make tons and tons of money on Wall Street.” Whatever it is, we invest time and energy into that thing, which is okay. The trouble is when we demand this thing and view ourselves as failures if we don’t get it. Or if we get it, and we lose it.
I am learning that we should be careful with our dreams. Our hearts are too sick and too easily allured by the thought of our own potential glory and success. The thought of writing something important, something that influences people in a really good way, makes me giddy. Careful now.
Because if or when we get our dreams, it won’t be enough. It may be good and it may even be necessary for others’ welfare, but don’t count on it fulfilling you completely. On the other hand, the fulfillment of our dreams could actually be toxic. It could destroy us, as it has done to too many celebrities to name, or people you know. Or the loss of a fulfilled dream could be our end, like those businessmen in 2008.
Set goals. Seek ways to use your gifts to serve others. Hold your dreams with open hands. Believe you are called to live for something, Someone, greater than yourself.
We just may live a dream we never even dreamed of. That sounds even better, actually.
Okay, all of this dream talk makes me think of one of the best movie scenes ever because this is one of the best songs ever. And it’s another illustration of a dream sadly turned toxic. Gosh, the despair is so real. Props to Anne. (I cannot promise I won’t talk about movies in every other post…it just may happen.)