In Search of the Ideal, Part 7: Dreams

Author’s Note: This is the seventh part in a series on mankind’s search for the ideal — the perfect, the mature, the right. I’m convinced that every human being, Christian or not, has at some depth a desire for things to “be right” in the world. This longing drives us to seek answers. Some look internally, some look to religion, and others look to a higher power. Lately, I’ve been deeply craving for certain areas of life to be perfect, complete and ideal. This series explores some of my longings. Maybe you can relate!

 

“Come away and dream with me
of cotton sands and a cobalt sea,
where palm trees frame a place of rest.
And I’m with you and you’re with me;
Our ears are filled with the musical sea;
As the sun shines down we are blessed.”

There is another ideal that I long for, but this ideal may be the most personal in a sea of personal ideals: I want my dreams to come true. Ha! Don’t we all?

BUT first a little bit of clarification: when I use the term, “dream,” I’m not talking about the subconscious adventures your mind conjures up at night as you sleep. There are two major definitions of “dream” and the second one means, “a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.” That’s what the dictionary says, anyway. When you are “dreaming” you are “indulging in daydreams or fantasies, typically about something greatly desired.” I’ll discard the term fantasies because that, to me, is a whole other subject (paging Walter Mitty…).

I long for my dreams of the future, including my deepest wants and hopes, to come true and be as amazing as I dream them. That makes sense, right? Dreams of the ideal. Dreams of a great job that I love, a family that I love, a restful place to live of great beauty, of hobbies that satisfy my time, of purpose and mission and… you get the picture.

But we live in a fallen world and there are so many obstacles between myself and my dreams that very few actually come to pass. As a result, I find myself growing increasingly frustrated with life and disgruntled and… die a little bit inside, I think!

Yet, still, without the ability to dream of ideals and aspirations and ambitions, life is not really worth living. Why? Because it is dreams that allow us to imagine the future that God promises for us, to see what change can be like in our lives, to understand that the world’s system of life will not last forever, and to see the best that’s possible in other people. When you look at a broken person, can you dream of what that person could be like with the Holy Spirit in their heart? Can you see past their bruises and calluses and see the person inside?

Indeed, I think dreams make human relationships possible! A woman looks at a man, rough on the edges (or the whole surface!), and dreams of what he might become… with her help, of course. A missionary looks at a native who knows nothing about Jesus and imagines… nay, dreams… of what a whole village might become if that native accepts the message of salvation and then the holy fire spreads…

The Artist, The Lover, The Motivator

Every artist is a dreamer. You have to be in order to create art. Art involves the use of creativity in turning something that “is not” into something that “is.” Or, better said, it is the talking of the imperfect and crafting it into something new. In order to do that, one must dream of what that imperfect object might become with a little renovation.

One person stares at a blank canvas and says, “It’s a blank canvas.” Another stares at the same canvas and says, “No it’s not. It’s a beautiful painting of a mountain meadow with wildflowers, pine trees and a still pond.” The first person cannot see it, but the dreamer sees what might become. The artist then goes out and paints or prints the scene.

Dreams inspire artists to create, but they aren’t for artists alone. In fact, dreams are the things that lead a couple to want to start a family, to buy a house, to move to the country, or just to relax in each others arms. A man and woman ask each other, “What do you imagine our family to be like?” Or, “Where can you see us living?” If you cannot dream together as a couple, you probably are going to struggle with embracing a future with your partner.

I’ve just recently begun a journey on eHarmony to find my “fellow dreamer,” and one word that keeps popping up on the profiles of the single women I’m matched with is “dream.” They will say something like, “I’m looking for someone who will dream with me of our future and our family.” Maybe this is part of being among “the lonely,” but we singles long to dream of a future with someone special. And we all have an “ideal” in mind for the type of person with which we desire to dream!

Dreams inspire individuals to desire greater things than just the status quo. Thinking of a future in which you do something or become someone just might lead you to make life decisions towards those goals. You see yourself being somewhere and making an impact, and so you use those dreams of the future to motivate you in the present. I dare say that a person who cannot think about the possible future is not really going anywhere in life.

American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) once wrote,

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go,
life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

I’m sincerely convinced that a person going through a tough time in their life can really benefit from dreaming of a future that doesn’t involve darkness. Dreams can be like the fuel in the engine of the heart of a man when a valley is all he sees around him.

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The subject of dreams and dreaming is a very, very vast one and I cannot possibly cover it in its entirety in this blog! I just know that I have a lot of dreams about the future that I desperately and deeply long to come true. I long for a world in which those dreams — the godly ones, of course — always come true. Will heaven be like that? Well, for one, I think we will be a whole lot less self-centered up there. But Scripture makes it clear that we will not cease to be individuals, created in the image of God, and so our personalities and interests probably convey with our souls.

It’s funny but I even have dreams of what I will want in heaven! Silly, right? But I might be slightly disappointed if my dwelling doesn’t have a popcorn room and eternal Dr Pepper fountain… just sayin’.

Be God’s.