When I was a little girl I had all kinds of dreams. I would watch ice skaters on TV and hope that one day I’d be in the Olympics. I’d sit through old musicals like The Sound of Music and South Pacific and hope to be a big name on Broadway. Never mind the fact that I couldn’t dance–I wanted to live out a beautiful story on stage where I could break into song at any moment because I was supposed to, not because I was weird. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it crossed my mind to meet a real-life Prince and become part of a royal family somewhere. After all, I did grow up at the same time as Prince William.
There were other dreams too, like making furniture to sell, going to culinary school and opening a restaurant, traveling the world as a flight attendant, training dolphins at Sea World, being First Lady, teaching Elementary school, and raising children.
Dreaming is fun. And when you’re interested in a lot of things it’s really fun, but also a little overwhelming. How do you know which one to chase? Where do you invest your time and energy? What if you pursue a certain path only to realize you’re not good at that particular thing or you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would?
Or worse yet, what if you pursue a dream only to have someone tell you you’re not good enough or the door comes crashing in your face?
I want my girls to dream and to consider the possibilities of what God might have in store for their lives. There’s a verse in Proverbs that I’ve tried to apply when I have a new dream or idea: “…those who chase fantasies lack sense“(Proverbs 12:11). There’s a difference between pursuing a dream and chasing after something worthless. And it’s my desire to help my girls discern between the two. Here are few ways I hope to help them do that:
Try it out. I’m so thankful that my parents allowed me to be involved in a variety of activities. We played sports almost year-round. I took two weeks of ballet lessons when I was five before realizing that was NOT my thing. They paid for piano lessons for me for years, and even bought me a flute so I could join the band at school. They sacrificed a lot in order for me (and my siblings) to discover our interests. Sometimes they said no. Like when I asked my Dad for a harp. He had his reasons and since I didn’t have thousands of dollars at my disposal, I had to accept his answer.
I want to do the same thing for my children. Whether it’s checking out a how-to book from the library, watching instructional you-tube videos, paying for lessons, or driving them to practices, I want to give them the chance to learn and pursue their interests.
Do your best in everything. One of the rules about being involved in different activities growing up was that we had to practice. I was required to play the piano every day for at least 30 minutes. When I was on the basketball team, my dad made me practice dribbling up and down our driveway with these weird glasses on my face until I could do it without watching my hands. They knew my potential and they wanted me to push to that end, not giving up because something was hard, but working at it so that I did my absolute best.
Ask for input. Eventually you grow up and have to make some decisions about your future. This is one of the harsh realities of becoming an adult. It’s at this crossroads that big decisions are made like where to go to college and what career to pursue. My parents played a large role in this for me. They were able to wisely assess my skills, talents, and knew enough about my desires to help me make choices that pursued my dreams but were also realistic. Teachers, youth leaders, and others who knew me well were also helpful in guiding my dream-pursuing process. I hope my children will have people like this in their lives to help them in their journey.
Pursue God first. Dreams are great, but if we aren’t pursuing the Lord then we’re not keeping our dreams properly aligned. Keep your relationship with the Lord as your first priority. Spend time reading the Bible, pray and ask God for wisdom, apply biblical principles to your decision making. If Scripture forbids what your dream entails, then it’s obvious you shouldn’t pursue that one. God grants wisdom to us when we ask Him. And there are countless ways that He wants to use us. If we are truly seeking to be obedient to the Lord and honor Him with our gifts and abilities, then we can basically do whatever we want.
I love Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something, and I’ll probably make my girls read this toward the end of their high school years. He basically concludes that if we’re living a life of obedience to Christ, any dream we pursue is okay. It’s easy to become paralyzed by fear, the multitude of options and waiting for God to send us some sort of sign. In the end, it boils down to this statement that he makes in his book:
“Die to self. Live for Christ. And then do what you want, and go where you want, for God’s glory.”
If I can see my girls living for Christ it will be easy to come behind them in whatever dream they pursue. And I’ll stand with them cheering them on and supporting however I can, praying that God would indeed use them for His glory.
This is Day 8 of a series “Lessons for my Daughters”. Click here for a list of all posts in this series.