The idea of hopes and dreams brings to mind a teenage girl sprawled on the floor of her bedroom, furiously writing in her diary the things she desires that she wouldn’t utter to another soul, save maybe a best friend or close sibling.
“Hopes and Dreams,” the journal entry might read in purple bubble letters. “To date the cutest boy in school. For my parents to buy me a car. To be a famous singer.”
My images might be a little dated. I grew up in the 80s, after all. Those were the days of the teen paperback, Sweet Valley High influencing teen angst in the way of broken hearts and simple yearnings.
It doesn’t matter what our hopes and dreams are, innocent disquiet notwithstanding. Whether or not we breathe them aloud, they are there. We have them even if we don’t allow ourselves to entertain them for more than a few moments at a time.
Gut desires go much deeper than general wishes like financial security, physical health, and peace on earth. We want. We long. We obsess over details about how we want life to look. We think “I would be happy if…” “I only need this one thing to feel fulfilled…” “Life would be perfect if I had…”
We fool ourselves into thinking that having the things that comprise our hopes and dreams is what makes life worth living.
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What I did not realize, as a young person filled with angst, is what God wanted for me. I spent time in Sunday School but never really developed a relationship with God much deeper than asking for his blessing for my family during nightly prayers as sort of a habit-slash-insurance policy against bad things happening. I figured if I asked God to bless us, nothing bad would happen. For the most part it worked.
Lucky for me I stopped praying to God long before bad things actually did start happening – I couldn’t blame God for my failures if I had ignored him for years. A crisis of faith was not something I suffered as a result; I just figured that God was a myth and any hopes and dreams I had for myself were my responsibility to realize. There was no crisis – I knew I deserved every bit of what happened to me.
As I matured and regained and broadened my faith, I learned that God wants the very best for me, even more than I wish for myself. Often I don’t know what that is; I trust that God will provide it. I’m still learning to ask him for specific things – I don’t always trust that I want the right things. My hopes and dreams are still just wishes. Only he knows what’s best.
There is always room for growth in faith – this is where I am right now. To trust God to know what is best in my life, but not quite knowing for sure what to specifically ask for. Boldness does not come naturally; humility is far easier. When you’re already low to the ground, falling on your face doesn’t hurt as badly.
It’s not a sin to tell God what we want, and the Holy Spirit will guide us to desire for ourselves what God wants for us. God is kinder to us than we are to ourselves sometimes. He is always with us, and as long as we reach out to him, he will never forsake us.
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9