If there is one thing that describes my generation (20-30 year olds), it is definitely that we advocate doing what you love. We go against traditional desk jobs in order to pursue what we love. It is not uncommon for us to not stay at a job very long because we don’t feel “satisfied” and that we should be doing something “greater.”
We are dreamers.
Part of me loves the dreaming part. But another part of me questions when dreaming becomes unhealthy.
Recently, I watched the movie Inside Llewyn Davis again. It is a tragically comical look at a musician in Greenwich Village in the 60’s, right before Bob Dylan hit the scene. In this film, we see a man, Llewyn Davis, who dreams of becoming a well-known folk musician. The struggle in the film is trying to like Llewyn Davis. He dances a line between likable and unlikable. Part of you roots for him and another part of you scolds him.
The thing that I noticed the most was that Davis dreamed so much of what could be that he completely missed what already was. Do we miss what is already happening because we spend most of our lives dreaming of what could be?
As Christians, we can be the worst at this. We say things like, “What does Jesus want you to do with your life?” or “What do you think God is telling you?” or “Where do you feel the Spirit leading you?” (that’s right — we go all out trinity in answering life-questions)
The saddest part of Inside Llewyn Davis is seeing a man fight for what he loved but realizing that it would never take him far in life. I’ve had this realization several times. I could never make it far as a musician. I could never make it far as an actor. Heck…I might not even make it far as a pastor.
So how do we respond to when all of our dreams come crashing down? How do we respond when we realize that our dream is simply just that: a dream…a pipe dream at best? Do we continue fighting for something that won’t ever come true? Doesn’t that take away from living the life we have right now?
I think about Jesus a lot in these situations. Christ said that He came so that we could have life abundantly. Many health and wealth preachers have taught this passage in the direction of “God will give you great health and great wealth” (I mean, obviously…what else would health and wealth preachers teach?). But if my dream doesn’t come true, does that mean that Christ hasn’t given me life abundantly?
Living life to the fullest sometimes means sacrificing dreams.
This is a difficult concept, especially in our generation. But sometimes in sacrificing dreams, we can truly live life abundantly. I’m not saying it is wrong to dream. We should dream. We should aspire. We should dare to live a life that brings God pleasure.
But how many of our dreams are selfish attempts at making us happy? And, is happiness the only thing we should strive to attain in this life?
One of my dreams is to plant a church. I have slowly, but surely, come to the conclusion that I am willing to sacrifice that dream if it begins to interfere with how I am living currently. If I begin only focusing on that instead of the lives around me. If I begin hating where I am because I long to be somewhere else. If I begin coming up with a strategic plan for how I’ll do things differently because of how angry I am with what is happening around me. I am willing to sacrifice that dream if it begins negatively affecting my life.
Are you willing to sacrifice your dream for that? I think we must be willing to say, “This dream is destroying people around me. The constant longing for something greater is causing me to live a life less than abundant right now.” It’s hard to say those things because, once again, we are dreamers. We fight for our dreams and say we will not settle for anything less than those dreams. In the pursuit of those dreams, however, we settle for something less in how we are living life in the now.
Dreams can quickly become a means of escapism. That’s when they get dangerous. That’s when they evolve into something deadly. That’s when we must be willing to say, “I’m done.”
One of my favorite scenes from Love Actually is the scene when Andrew Lincoln’s character confesses his love for Kiera Knightley’s character. It’s this beautiful scene where he confesses everything he has been feeling through a series of comments on poster board. But at the end of the scene, the dream that he had always longed to come true, he mutters, “that’s enough.” I love that. He knew that his dream would destroy friends in love.
Is this notion of doing what we love something that might destroy the lives of those around us? I’m not saying that we sacrifice things purely for the sake of others. But I do think that we cannot be selfish and cover up things with, “I feel like God is telling me to do this…” when God is simply telling us to bring honor to Him…wherever we are and in whatever we are doing.
What do you think? How have you seen dreams ruin your life or the life of those around you? When is the best time to sacrifice dreams? Should we sacrifice dreams? Why do Christians feel the need to constantly ask the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” Let me know in the comments below.