What makes us grumpy? What makes us frown deep inside even as we walk in golden sunlight under blue skies? What makes us respond immediately with “That won’t work!” to an idea someone proposes or a fix to a problem that someone suggests? Are you jaded? Are you more prone to melancholy than joy? Have you lost your hope?
If so, maybe it’s because you’ve lost your capacity to dream. If you have a dream that moves you beyond your current circumstances, it’s much easier to wake up hopeful each morning. Here are some suggestions to pump up your capacity to dream and hope.
Hang out with people who still dream. I have a friend who is planning a cross- country spiritual formation trip. On her way to visit a relative, she is planning to stay in monasteries to soak in the silence and solitude. Listening to her describe this dream and seeing her face light up was observing hope in action.
Live out on the edge where God lives. God created us all to dream, to experiment, to take risks. I recently started a writer’s group for some women who are good writers, but who haven’t really dared to dream about taking their writing seriously. Watching them share their writing aloud was like watching a big polka-dotted balloon float into the room and pop right above our heads, showering droplets of hope on top of each of us.
Pray that God will share his dream for your life and empower you with the energy and courage to carry it out. I remember when I first had the dream of creating a blog that would energize others to live as apprentices of Jesus. I was petrified. And then I learned that a class on writing devotionally was being offered at a local seminary. I signed up before I could talk myself out of it and learned how to create a blog. Soon I learned that the only way to maintain anyone’s interest in my blog was to sit down and write every day. Now I’m I’m close to having written 300 blogs and my dreams for the blog are even bigger.
Read the stories of the Biblical heroes who were dreamers: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Gideon, Ruth and Naomi, David, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul, John and many more. This time pay attention to the dream that God put in their hearts and how it came true.
Be alert to the times when a new idea floods your mind. Don’t shut it down. Let it play itself out. Think about the possibilities instead of the impossibilities. Toss it around with others. Does your dream energize them? Take a first step. And then a second step. At 65, my outlandish dream of attending an on-line program in spiritual formation and leadership began with a discussion with four members of a Renovare small group, followed by a trip to Spring Arbor University to learn about the program, followed by prayer with the director or the program for funds to make the dream happen, which resulted in thousands of dollars of donations that allowed me to attend for a year. The whole process totally changed my life.
Read books, newspapers, watch TV shows, listen to the radio. Soak yourself in stories of what other people are doing with their lives. Their stories will give you hope. More people than you think are following their dreams. You could be one of them.
Spend time with kids who are who are under the age of 10. Their dreams will knock you over. Do not discourage their “outlandish” hopes; learn from their creativity and passion.
Dreaming and following our dreams may lead to times of frustration, but I can guarantee that it will also generate hope!