How many of you have a dream? Have dared to hope for a future, to run after a life, only to have it stolen, snatched away, gone?
I’m sure that’s happened to us all at least once, if not far more often. (At least if we’ve lived at all and are willing to be honest.)
Being such marvelous creatures, reflecting the glory of God, being modeled and made in His image, think how truly glorious and powerful we could be if we were all that we were intended. Strong. Beautiful. Passionate. Alive. Overflowing with creativity and inspiration and absolutely devoid of guilt, shame, insecurity, or fear. Confident. Secure. Loved, and aware of that love.
This is who we were meant to be, to live in that place of perfection, relating flawlessly, fitting together like a body in perfect health, each part contributing and building up the whole.
How far we have fallen.
If this is our destiny, our purpose, the original intention for our design… who stands to gain if we live lives less than those which were intended? Who benefits when we become too distracted, too busy, too insecure and unsure of ourselves, and too disconnected from our source to even know that we were born artists? Born musicians? Born creators? Born all of us with a gift? Who is served when that is repressed and forgotten?
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to St. Irenaeus: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
Immediately, I think Michael Jordan with a basketball. Kid President with his video camera. Astronauts. Painters. Composers. Directors. Architects. Bakers. Nurses. Engineers. Excellence in operation. Beauty in performance. It’s the tingle, the chills that run down your arms when you see someone own their ability. Think Olympics. Special Forces. Trans-Siberian Orchestra. When the one in the spotlight, figuratively speaking, nails it. Executes brilliantly. Steals your breath and instills hope and awe, all in one twinkle of a moment.
That is the glory of God. That is who He made us to be. That was our original glory, our original destiny, the purpose of the original design.
I started out by asking who has felt that? Who has dreamed of that or desired that? We all have, if we haven’t been too stomped on or subdued or repressed first. It’s encoded in the human DNA.
So back to my other question: Who benefits when none of that talent show up? When dreams are stolen?
Certainly not God. There’s no glory to be had for Him when His creation fails to reflect. Certainly not humanity as a whole. We are impoverished as a race when the best and brightest among us are lost — and who’s to say how many more there would be and how much brighter they would shine if every single one of us did our part? Certainly we, as individuals, don’t benefit personally. No on thrives by living in the shadows, holding tightly to everything they ever had out of fear, shame, and feelings of worthlessness.
The answer is that no one benefits. No one is bettered. Bottom line: we help no one, benefit no one, better no one by agreeing to live small. It’s not humility or modesty to hold back. It’s cowardice.
It takes guts to stand out. Remember the “no guts, no glory” slogan? Guts are what it takes to offer yourself. To show up and build up and create where everyone can see. We are a long way from Eden, and some among us are threatened by true glory. It tips the shaky status quo, teeters our apathetic comfort zones, and exposes our own inadequacies. Courage shows up the coward and for that, few will be thanking you.
But your contribution, the gift you have to give — now that is priceless, irreplaceable, and worth more than all the thanks (or lack of it). We need you to step up and stand out. Dare to share your dream and pursue your passion.
This is a constantly recurring theme of mine, and I’ll share a personal insight into why. There’s a part of the real me, the person who I am at the core and who I really want to be, trying to get out. Sometimes she claws tenaciously and desperately; sometimes she hesitantly peaks around the blind corners of my heart, wondering if the freedom will be worth the fight. For the past 2 -3 years, I’ve been seeing more of this person; the past 10 have revealed a whole new character. In my wildest imaginations as a kid, I could never have foreseen that I would become who I am today.
And it’s been a journey of epic proportions: sadness, heartache, battle… and beauty. Such beauty. The glory along the way, there aren’t words to describe.
I’m becoming someone new, learning to see myself through different eyes, learning confidence, introducing myself to the new me, becoming comfortable with her, and understanding I have gifts and shouldn’t hesitate to offer them. Slowly but surely unveiling the real person, shedding my shell, sloughing off the repression and fears.
Growing into me.
And it feels dangerous. Risky. Life changing. It feels opposed and gutsy. My soul-searching and personal growth has shaken and threatened the complacent lives of those comfortable in the puddles, as it will every time someone is brave enough to be different. Because by very definition, a seeker, a searcher, a wanderer, an explorer is one who says the old life just isn’t good enough anymore. And those firmly lodged in the old life oftentimes, whether accurately or not, perceive that as a judgment, and most definitely, as a threat. I know all this because I’ve lived in that puddle, too. Spent a good portion of my life there, in fact.
At times along my journey, I have felt crushed. Attempts have been made to put me back in my box, to close the lid on that “nonsense”, suppress me, shut me up and send me back to my corner to live a small, meaningless, inconsequential, silent life.
Which is really no life at all.
At other times, I have been encouraged. I have had voices and hands and shoulders made available to me, reaching out for me, nudging me along, assuring me they see something in there, a potential that is soon to be recognized. They are my fellow travelers on this journey. They are the ones who were brave enough themselves to have stepped out and shrugged off complacency and a sense of “good enough.” My fellow dreamers: I’m blessed to have them in my life, and wouldn’t be where — or who — I am today without them.
We cannot afford to go “gently into that good night” as Dylan Thomas says. We can’t be passive bystanders, content to let others define our narrow perimeters and decide how brightly we will shine. We must kick and scream and rage against every threat and intimidation. When they come, as it’s a sure bet they will, they will strike directly at our dreams, our futures, and all the hopes we have for them will be the intended targets. It will feel like a personalized hit to the heart of who we really are and who we are becoming.
And that’s all the more cause to stand firm. Stay the course. Refuse to be intimidated. Give a hand to your fellow travelers. Speak up on behalf of those around you who are pursuing their dreams, and remember that living small benefits no one.