Taking Back Dreaming

I don’t watch horror movies. I refuse to. When people ask, I tell them there’s enough in the world to be afraid of – why would I pay someone to scare me? I’m spending all my time trying to work up courage just to live life. But what I didn’t realize was that I was contributing to my fear problem. 


I’m a news junkie. I like to know how the Euro is doing and read up on the elections in Egypt, the skirmishes and disturbance in Syria, the heroics of Chinese men and women who stand up to an evil government. But the news and rumors of bad things present and future were wearing at me, setting my heart on edge like a horror movie with no ending. I was obsessed with what I thought was knowledge of current events, but it was just fear in disguise. In my desire to be updated and prepared, however, I kept reading, devouring the latest, drawn to the headlines of terror and destruction like a moth to flame. 


Well, this camouflaged anxiety did its work on me, but it was so slow, I didn’t realize the impact. I stopped dreaming, about simple things. I stopped thinking about a doctorate, about developing my career, about writing that book I’ve been meaning to write. I even stopped dreaming about a future for me and Josh, for my children, growing up and old together. Everything felt finite, and the end felt near. I just had to wait for it. I knew too much, so no sense in getting published or thinking of the next million dollar idea. The dollar’s about to crash anyway. [Yes, I know: Debbie Downer, right? But this is the mind of the anxious apocalyptic. A sad place to live.]

The other day, my husband called me out. “If you won’t watch horror movies, why are you reading all the finance and economy blogs? They have the same effect on you.” And they were. It was like I was addicted to bad news, to the bizarre thrill of being in the know about all the doomsday proclamations. I would be ready when they came. But all this “knowledge” robbed me of my joy, my hope and my dreams. Only thing was, I let these burglars in the house. Didn’t even stop them. 



Well, Josh’s words resonated strong. (I know truth when I hear it…sometimes.) I knew something had to give. He told me, “It’s time to start dreaming again. Take back your hope. You need one year to let yourself think anything is possible.” That was his challenge – take a year to dream up anything like there’s no end in sight. What he didn’t know is I’d already been thinking of a 365 daily writing project. I just didn’t know what to write about yet. Meanwhile, I recently mused on the pain and danger of hope here and tried to talk myself back into it. 

Dreams are like this: wide open spaces of beautiful possibility. [Photo credit: Sarah Siders, Flint Hills]

Now I have a vision. Dreaming: a whole year of non-stop idea-generating powered by hope- fueled imagination leading to creativity and innovation I’d never see with the news channels playing in the background.

I think I speak for many people in the defeat we feel from fear. If we’re truthful, we know fear has beaten most of us. We learned how to be afraid a long time ago, and it changed our breathing, our thinking, chopped the legs off our risk, intimidated our dream-ability. We vacillate between apathy and obsessive control in order to manage our cowardice and figure out where we fit in the world.

I’ve been a fear victim most of my life, hesitating, failing, standing along the wall while letting others take their chances. Sitting out felt safe for a while, but now that I’m 30, it’s dreadfully dull. The reason I’m bored is because I stopped dreaming. I’ve been waiting for the collapse of the world as we know it, and the books I meant to write, the languages I meant to learn, the trips I meant to take – I put them all on hold. Just so I could sit here and wait for the apocalypse.


The 365 Dream Project is me moving out of survival mode. It’s the start of something, taking risks, maybe. But definitely hope for a future. It’s me taking back the chance to talk with God and dream of what I want for my family, my career, my husband, child, house. To dream of a garden and another kid or three, dream of travel. And I want to dream not just for me, for the three of us, but for justice and freedom for the oppressed, sex-trafficking rings shut down, oppressive governments replaced, the church of American rising up to care for the downtrodden and marginalized. Radical living. Artistic permission. Worship everywhere. This dreaming is thrilling, but more than that, it’s essential.


And that’s what the 365 Dream Project is about. A daily word and picture of what could be. Because before anything revolutionary can ever happen, people have to dream. I, We have to dream. I give you permission to take your hope back and dream with me too, from 7-7-2012 to 7-7-2013. Let’s go for it.

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