“Honey … we can do this!” I’d just read an article as a newlywed—back in the 70s—about Alaskan acreage being given to people who could build a home and settle on the land.
Homesteading. It sounded so romantic, so adventurous.
“So cold,” said my husband.
Gary was a good balance for me. He referred to himself as a realist, but his realism closely resembled pessimism.
I, on the other hand, am the most optimistic person I know. Which means I sometimes need a realistic pessimist—or is it a pessimistic realist?—in my life.
Truth is, Gary and I knew little to nothing about survival in a harsh wilderness. Good thing he didn’t give in to me, or we’d be frozen in some Alaskan ice bank to this day.
We begin as children — with great belief and imagination and trust. We don super hero capes, firefighters’ helmets, nurses’ caps. Or fairy wings.
And we become that hero who saves the day, the person putting out fires, the good fairy who flits about granting wishes.
But we grow older.
And our imaginations become tinged with too much realism, too much practicality. Which can be a good thing in medium doses. But when realism paints over everything in dull gray, then not so much.
This wisdom from Peter Pan:
The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
So how do we find the balance between believing we can fly … and counting the cost of flying lessons?
1. Determine the destination. The first thing before taking off is to determine where we want to go. Do we hope to soar to higher education? To opening that consulting business? Or that used-books-and-coffee shop? Do we want to take wing to a third world country to help provide medical care? Do we dream of fostering a child, establishing a non-profit for outreach to battered women, or volunteer to listen to second graders read?
2. Draft a list of action items. List the logical steps for getting a dream off the ground. Like, signing up for that course. Submitting a business plan. Connecting with a medical missions organization. Learning more about foster care. Or making an appointment with a CPA who specializes in non-profits.
3. Tackle the action items. Now that we have a flight destination in mind, and a list of actions to get us there, we can start checking items off the list as we complete them. (And everyone knows how deliciously satisfying it is to check items off to-do lists—everyone knows that.)
4. Invite God into the goal. Steps 1, 2, and 3 are practical. And maybe a little too simplistic. Because many of us have impossibly large dreams—so large that we can’t bring them to fruition with our own limited resources, or education, or experience, or connections.
My dream is that large.
My dream is to have a home of my own again—maybe a barn on country property that could be refurbished into a home for hosting retreats for people who have experienced loss and are ready to step back into life again. But with real estate prices in my neck of the woods, I don’t have the resources to bring that about.
What if we asked God for a large dream that will take us up on wings—doing something meaningful with our remaining days on earth?
And what if we asked God to bring the dream to fulfillment? For His honor.
Joanne Belnap wrote about checking self-doubts at the door and taking a leap of faith to apply for the promotion, or go back to college, or raise a child:
We may not cross the finish line with top honors – or at all – but we’ve already won just by registering for the race.
What if registering for the race is the start of getting to where we want to go—to where God wants us to be?
It can be.