Acknowledge That Dream

Last week we talked about buried dreams.
You may wish to read that post if you haven’t yet.

What is your dream? . . . Unearth it from under all that busyness and fear you’ve heaped on it. Can you think of it? . . . Often something comes to mind fairly quickly.

If not, ask yourself two questions:

  • What would you do if money were no object?
  • What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Give your dreams permission to surface.

Photo courtesy of czekka at
Photo courtesy of czekka at

Think back to your youth, before people began to laugh at your dreams. What did you most want to do that still brings a yearning deep within you?

  • Was it to climb a mountain, run a marathon, or swim a river?
  • Maybe it was to play the drums, dance in the Nutcracker, or paint sunsets?
  • Was it to become a comic, a chef, or a teacher?
  • Perhaps you wanted to be a missionary or to work in an orphanage.

Make sure that what you come up with is your dream, not someone else’s dream for you. Just because your mom wanted you to be Miss Lancaster County doesn’t mean it was your dream. Just because your high school science teacher thought you should be a marine biologist doesn’t mean it was your heart’s desire.

If you still aren’t certain what your dreams are, it may be because you’re not sure who you are.

516y26RYQ6L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_You might find it helpful to spend time using a book that helps you discover your purpose in life. I particularly like Living on Purpose, by Christine and Tom Sine, for the way it helps us evaluate our current lifestyles. But the NYT bestselling Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is another great resource. Do what it takes to resurrect your dreams, or to discover a new one.

Name your dream that will not die. Don’t push away the thought that comes, calling it childish or foolish. If you still have it after all this time, it’s a valid dream, perhaps a God-given dream.

Now find a note card or a piece of paper and write out your dream.

We are going to use the phrase “ATTA GIRL”—and the letters that make it up—to give us a hand in pursuing our dreams. (I know there are some men who read this blog—thank you—but “Atta Boy” just didn’t fit the points I want to make! The principles in Atta Girl will still work for you.)

The “A” stands for “Acknowledge Your Dream.” . . . If you wrote your dream down, you’ve already done this. No dream can be fulfilled unless you admit you have it.51JXHFD2NML._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_

When we refuse to acknowledge our dreams, we find ourselves oppressed by life, unable to enjoy each day. A few years ago, I was in a Christian bookstore, and a title attracted my attention: Breathing Freely: Celebrating the Imperfect Life. I began to skim the prologue, and felt I was reading about my life. Ruth McGinnis writes:

“I thought of all the mornings I’d awakened without a sense of enjoyment for the day at hand; the long desert times when I was waiting for the right circumstances to line up so I could begin to live; . . . I thought of the beauty I’d not photographed because I was too busy taking pictures of things that didn’t exist, snapshots of perfection, preconceived images of soon-to-be-forgotten achievements. I though of all my years of frantic questing, trying to become someone other than myself.

“The weight of it seemed unbearable—a weight of many layers of protection that I’d accumulated along my life’s journey—layers that made my shoulders droop toward my heart and my whole chest feel so heavy it was difficult to breathe . . . .

“I thought, All I ever really wanted is to breathe freely in the gift of life.”

Be daring—own up to your dreams, even if they feel foolish. As you acknowledge them, you’ll begin to breathe freely.

Walt Disney once said:

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember this whole thing was started by a mouse.”

As a parent, acknowledge your children’s dreams as well. Don’t belittle their dreams. Just acknowledge them, no matter how wild. If all you can muster is a “Really? What makes that seem like a fun thing?” so be it. Ask that question. Keep a list of your children’s dreams with the date. At the very least, it will provide a laugh when they’re adults (maybe at their wedding reception). But it may open your eyes to patterns of thought or interests that God has placed within them.

One of the biggest problems we have as parents is injecting our dreams into our children. Sure, from the time you new that little bundle of joy was on his or her way, you thought about the future. “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . .”

But while you may have been the incubator for your children, you are not their designer. You cannot know what the God of the universe has in mind for them and placed within them.

Help your children discover who they are. Encourage them to dream. When they encounter a new occupation, ask them if it’s something they find interesting, if it’s something they might want to do someday. Ask them why or why not. Then try not to laugh at the answer. My brother is a pastor, and years ago his eldest son told him he wanted to be a minister when he grew up “because you get to go out to eat a lot.”

Dreams don’t fulfill themselves. We’re going to talk in future weeks about the steps you can take to move forward. But first, nothing will happen, unless you are brave enough to acknowledge that dream. Go for it!


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