Often when I run into friends and get asked how I’m doing, one of my go-to responses is “I’m livin’ the dream!”
Yeah, I’m that guy. It’s one of my many charming and not-at-all annoying qualities.
When I say those words, I usually do it with a slight smirk and a metaphorical wink (not an actual wink because those are creepy). Sometimes I might even lift my hands a bit to draw attention to my surroundings as if to say, “Look around! I’m clearly exactly where I want to be, and everything is perfect, right?”
I’m trying to be funny and ironic when I say those words, but the real irony is I kind of mean them.
Living my dream
In a lot of ways, I am living my dream. Throughout high school and college, I imagined the life I wanted to live.
I wanted to get married and have a family. I wanted a job where I was able to exercise my talents and work for a company committed to making a difference. I wanted to have time to write, and in my free time, I wanted to freelance to bring in some extra money for Marvel movies and Apple products.
I’m currently doing all of those things.
I’ll be the first to admit my reality is far from perfect, and my day-to-day life isn’t exactly the glamorous one I was expecting. Still, as tongue-in-cheek as it sounds to say I’m living my dream, I actually am.
Here’s the problem: Sometimes our dreams don’t live up to our expectations. Or as the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”
I should have known. That’s the plot of just about every movie from the ‘90s. The formerly geeky girl with glasses doesn’t understand the perils of popularity until her dramatic makeover, and Aladdin has no business being a real prince. You didn’t earn those elephant parades, Aladdin.
Lately, I’ve realized my dream isn’t really possible. I’m doing all of the things I wanted to do, but I’m tired — really, really tired. It’s hard to juggle multiple jobs and still have a meaningful family life at home. Who knew?
Oh wait! That’s another plot from ‘90s movies!
In order to keep my dream alive, I feel a constant pressure to squeeze the most out of every minute. And when I stop to think about it, I realize that’s not the kind of life I want to live. That’s the part of my dream I forgot to figure out. It’s not very fun to live with that level of stress, and it takes away from my most important roles in life.
I don’t want to push aside my time with God to make room for a few more emails. I never want my wife to feel neglected because of my work. I want to cherish every minute I have with my daughter. I don’t want to be so distracted by new project requests that I miss out on the parts of life that matter so much more than an article byline or an extra paycheck.
Let it go
It’s weird to write about this experience when I’m still in the middle of it, and the problems aren’t resolved. But here’s the lesson I’m currently learning:
Sometimes you have to let your old dreams die to make room for better ones. Or as Craig Groeschel often says, “We give up things we love for things we love even more.”
It’s OK for our dreams to change. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions to pursue the good things God has for you. And sometimes you have to say no to make room for a better yes.
God promises things will work out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Sometimes God’s version of good looks different from what we initially imagined, but His good is always better than ours. I got a taste of my dream only to realize the good time with family I was missing was right in front of me the whole time.
I’m intentionally crossing a few things off my dream to-do list these days — and maybe you should too. Remember, God promised to give us rest when we come to Him. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. If you find yourself constantly running on steam to pursue your dream, it might not be the one God has for you.
Sometimes life in a dreamy palace is overrated (just ask Aladdin). It’s OK to let old dreams die to make room for the better plans God has for you. He knows what you need, and He’s promised things will work out for good. And that is a dream worth pursuing.
Copyright 2019 Matt Ehresman. All rights reserved.