Thursday, May 29, 2008

Waking Up in Someone Else's Dream

Big dreams. Would it be too presumptuous of me to write that we all have them? Perhaps. I have them. Sure, many of my dreams are seeded in reality or at least in the realms of human possibility, but I have them.

In fact, I’ve had dreams for a long time. I’ve even kept record on lists: dream vacations; top 20 places to visit before I’m 50; family activities; etc. Sadly, many of the dreams and wishes I’ve penned on paper are not mine. They never belonged to me. I named them, talked about them excitedly, and hung on to them as a rope connecting to my future. But they weren’t mine. Instead, they were dreams belonging to the girl I wanted to be, or at least thought I should become.

Somewhere along the timeline of my life, and I cannot pinpoint the exact day it happened or why it happened, I deemed myself an undesirable. I knew that God loved me and that Jesus died for me, but never grasped the entire beauty that resides in that truth. Instead, I viewed myself as someone that God had to love and someone who most humans would never want to get close enough to know, let alone love. And with that warped world view, I began my quest to be wanted

I thought that my value was drossy, so then most of my interests were guilty by association. It is not uncommon for teenage girls to want to look and act like everyone else, so at first, my confused sense of self identity was normal for someone of my age. Yet, my desire to be anyone but me grew and aged with my body and morphed into perfectionism. Knowing that no one was perfect, but thinking that everyone else was superior to me, I began to take parts of others to create the “perfect me.”

My friend Casandra is a champion cleaner. Her base boards shine and counter tops glisten. Even the doorknobs on her closet doors sparkle. I added this trait to my repertoire, along with my friend Megan’s enthusiasm for children, and my friend Danika’s up-beat demeanor and zeal for organization. I could list at least twenty-five friends and acquaintances from whom I’ve stolen parts of their identity and weaved them into my own.

And I didn’t stop at personality traits. I added their dreams and goals to my lists as well. In fact the sheer notion of me making a dream list to begin with was something my friend Doreen did. When she mentioned her desire to Jet Ski through the Everglades before moving from Florida, I added that to my new list. Why not? It sounded like fun. Actually, it does not sound like fun to me. Yet at the time, I thought it did. But here is the truth. I am terrified of alligators and have no desire to soar into their territory. It doesn’t matter that the loud engine would probably scare them away…it only takes one hungry, insubordinate gator to take the bait. Yet for years, and I mean twelve long years, I honest-to-goodness thought that I would enjoy jet skiing in alligator infested waters.

While I think there is no harm in being influenced by Godly friends and acquiring positive traits and ideas, disregarding my talents, dreams, and desires was not only befuddling, it was sin. That’s right, one of the ugliest three-letter words in our vocabulary. It is sin because it is disobeying the voice of God.

God didn’t create me to imitate His other creations. He created me to serve Him with the specific qualities he gifted, yes gifted to me. And knowing this doesn’t make me prideful or hoity-toity, it humbles me. It’s OK that I don’t want to teach preschool, ride a mule down the Grand Canyon, or deep sea dive. Now, if God tells me to go jet skiing through the Everglades and write about my experience, I’ll do it, but not without a revolver and large knife ala John Locke (the character from Lost, not the English philosopher).

If assigned mass and tied to a string, my character flaws, quirky habits, and sins would circle the planet at least once. But I’m not going to exchange them for the errors of another. Instead, I’m going to own them along with my positive traits and there are quite a few of those too you know, I am the daughter of the King. No more hiding who I am and yearning to be who I am not. Without shame, I’m taking every ounce of my flesh, every molecule of my soul, every pound of baggage, and each and every inch of my dreams and I am laying them down at the throne of the Holy of Holies. For with His masterful hands, He will use all I am and all I can become for His glory. And that is my heart’s desire.

(Click here to read my friend Genny's insightful post about dreams)

But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Ephesians 4:17-25 (The Message)





52 comments:

a Tonggu Momma said...

This spoke to me greatly today.

Brandy said...

I am glad that you found me to! love your site, it is so cute!!

Anne Elizabeth said...

Very well spoken!

Natalie said...

My dreams are a bit on the wierd side. My husband no longer responds when I wake-up saying "I had a weird dream". Maybe I should stop eating spicy foods before I go to sleep. Great post!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

We were crafted and created for dreaming, for within each life is the eternal pulse for something beyond this one moment.

May your dreams, along with all our dreams and hopes, fly in faith this day to the very heart of God who cradles them with care and releases them in his time for his many great and sacred purposes.

peace~elaine

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Wow, that was so powerfully honest and self-aware. Here's to finding new, truly-you dreams in Christ! :)

Iris said...

I saw a lot of myself in your post today. Thanks for making yourself vulnerable and putting it out there. It spoke to me and I will continue to mull it over.

Thelma Wells once said that we should pay attention to the dreams (hopes for the future)that never quite seem to fade away. They may God's way of drawing us to something new that He has in mind for us. Since then I've paid attention to my recurring hopes, and delight in taking note of the dreams that have been there my whole life and in watching for where He will take me in them, knowing very well that it may be in an entirely different way than I first envisioned. I love it that we can trust Him to take our dreams and experiences and weave them into something that will bring Him glory and bless us in the mean time!

Tracy said...

Thank you so much for this beautifully vulnerable post. Many of your comments resonated with me. For so long, I tried to be someone other than myself; what I thought others wanted or expected. I still have to try and guard against that, but in recent months, there has been a deep desire in me to be "real." God spoke to me strongly last year through the song by Natalie Grant called "The Real Me." I finally believe in the value of me, as created by God. I'm learning the more of the authentic me I put forward, the more He blesses my life.

Thanks again for an honest look inside your heart and for the challenge to ours.

Wendi said...

Since you have read my blog a time or two, and I frequently write about my own longing for authenticity, troublesome comparisons, and self awareness, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that this post really spoke to my heart today.:)
Sin certainly has warped our thinking. I some times have this strange guilt complex that if I embrace my God given talents I will be prideful. Funny how the real pride comes when we sink into that sullen, affirmation seeking, hole of lonliness.
I know that my discovery of "Becoming Me" was very God lead. I appreciate you!!

Xandra said...

Now that is a great post! I do exactly the same thing (borrowing traits), but was never able to really verbalize what I was doing.

Thanks for taking the time to put this out there...

Xandra

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

This is my favorite one yet...absolutely.

Shonda said...

Beautiful post. God is renewing me in these busy days. I'm learning to accept me, not who others want me to be. I dont have time to act like someone I'm not. I have the desire to act like Christ because HE lives in me. But I dont have to be like His other creations like you stated. Love how you put that together with your examples.
Blessings in Christ-

DKay said...

GULP

WOW

Thank you for your honesty. This is something we all struggle with on different levels.
You are helping me realize ways to be a better person that I never considered before. I am grateful.

willow said...

It took me a long time to realize that God didn't make me to be exactly like everyone else. We all have different abilities and personalities. Much like flowers in a garden. I loved this post.

Thank you for your kind words over at Willow Manor today!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Angela,
This was so personal for me. Wow, you have spoken my own heart...especially this sentence,

"Yet, my desire to be anyone but me grew and aged with my body and morphed into perfectionism. Knowing that no one was perfect, but thinking that everyone else was superior to me, I began to take parts of others to create the “perfect me.”"

Colored With Memories said...

Wow! This really spoke to me and many others I am sure. You are a wonderful writer.

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I will definitely be making my way back to yours on a regular basis!

Natalie Witcher said...

I call it "walking on someone else's calendar". Acutally, I stole that from Beth Moore.

Good post

Mrs. Sidney said...

This is so me... I started out this year wanting to become a better me. Years of broken New Years Resolutions brought me nothing but broken promises to myself.

This really spoke to me because this is where I am traveling to in my life. Becoming what God intended me to be not what the world would like me to be or what I think I should be.

Thanks,
Ronel

Mocha with Linda said...

I can relate to much of this. I can be a chameleon easily around my friends and have struggled sometimes to find my own footing. Thanks for these beautiful words.

graceunbound said...

Wow and AMEN!

This post echoes what God has been dealing with me on for the past several months; it's time to be myself. I put on and take off personas like a set of clothing, trying to find the one set that feels right. They never do, because they are always borrowed from someone else. Slowly I'm learning how to put on the garments that God has crafted especially for me. And they are gloriously comfortable and easy to move in! I still keep eyeing the 'accessories' that other people have and thinking "Maybe I could wear that." Nope, I'll wait to discover what God is designing.

Thank you for a wonderful post.

Beloved MaMa said...

so well said.
Curious- What does your hubby teach and where are you going? My hubby teaches an online college course and is hoping to teach all college one day- he's interviewed here and there, but so far- it seems God wants us right where we are. His brother and father teach at the Bible College level overseas. Yes, I know how hard it is to move over and over and create new relationships wherever we go. Currently, this is the hardest place I have ever had to live! I"m so grateful for blogging because of it :o)

Person(Also Known As Mommy) said...

I think that most people, at some point in their lives (especially as teenagers) cross the line between emulating those they admire and creating stolen personalities that do not reflect themselves. It is something that can be difficult to break away from, to branch out on your own and accept your gifts for what they are.

Thank you for the very thoughtful post!

Genny said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for the sweet words, too.
Genny

BP said...

My friend Sarah had a post yesterday and this post made me think of it again....doing what you are called to do where you are, shining your light. Thank you for the reminder.

Southern Girl known as Mommy said...

I can completely relate to this post. I have often done the same thing. My best friend from Greenville is the all around gorgeous, confident, Godly, great mom and wife, athletic, funny, smart, turns everything to gold package. I will try and pick areas to try and be more like her, but she is all around great (like I said), and very quick to remind me of all the things I am good at. I would not say I am jealous of her, but I weigh myself against her way too much. I also struggle with being the person people expect me to be. People expect me to always look put together, so when I don't, I don't even feel worthy to have anyone talk to me. If someone says, "You will never accomplish ______." I more than likely won't because I take those words to heart. Anyway, I am rambling. It was a great post.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

YAAAAAY! I'm giving you a standing ovation right now. Every now and then I forget this eternal truth and start trying to be someone else. I quickly catch myself, though, as I almost always end up discouraged and that is not a feeling from Heavenly Father. He wants us to be happy, and I find that loving me the way I am is the only way I can be happy. Of course I'm always trying to improve myself, but I have to remember to listen to the Spirit when it comes to choosing what to improve.

Kari Dawson said...

What a fresh and honest post!

Lisa writes... said...

You are so in my brain with this one! Like you, I have often dreamed another's dreams, longed for another's calling, and wished to be someone other than the me I was (and am)...

No more yearning to be who I am not--yes and amen! I want to be found IN HIM not having a righteousness of my own, but the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith...

Heather@Mommymonk said...

What a great post. I think we all struggle at some level with wanting to live out someone else's dreams instead of seeking God's dreams for us.

Pam said...

Wow! you have such a gift for writing. I often doubt myself and see the wonderful gifts God has granted to others- musical talent, athletic, gift for service, etc. But when I look at myself- I have a hard time seeing my gift. This really spoke to me today! Thanks.

Gretchen said...

I seem to be doing the ugly cry and having eye leaks quite often when visiting you. This post resonated so deeply within me. Love that you are allowing God to focus your dreams and your reality now. Amazing post.

xxxooogretchen

Becoming Me said...

Thank you everyone. Your comments really touch my heart. Sometimes I'm afraid my posts are too emotional or risk making my readers leave the blog feeling sad. I'm glad that this post had a positive affect. Natalie W. I didn't know about Beth Moore's Walking on Someone else's Calendar line.

Dave and Jenni said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog today.

This post really reached me - I love the idea of owning up to who we are (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and giving *all* of it to God rather than what we think He might want. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Irritable Mother said...

"No more hiding who I am and yearning to be who I am not."
Amen, Sister. Amen!!!!!

Tiffany Stuart said...

LOVE, love this. We all do this. I too echo your heart's desire. Well said.

Thanks for sharing your honest and thought provoking post.

Laski said...

You have such a lovely way with words . . .

I have to say that I believe God puts people in our paths so that we can learn from them and grow from them. As long as we maintain who we are and never lose sight of what is important, I think it is wonderful when we can grow in someone else's light--as long as we never forget where that light originated . . .

Thoughtful post! Thank you . . .

COMcewens said...

I think you spoke volumes when you wrote: God didnt create me (us) to imitate His other creations! Oh if we all took that to heart! Great food for thought!

Lisa said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! This is a wonderful post. I often get confused with what I think others think I should be and what God has actually made me to be. Something more to pray about!

Madison Richards said...

You've spoken so much truth here. So often we take on others' identities in the process of finding our own. But remember, that's part of the process too. Otherwise, how would you know that you actually don't like something? Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so imitating others' goals is a stepping stone, of sorts.

I suppose that wanting to be like others as they are like Him is a good thing as well. God often puts us in the company of others who embody character or Christlike qualities that we are still developing. In that way, iron sharpens iron and being provoked to jealousy for the things eternal is a good thing!

Great post. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.

Sarah said...

So well said. I am so much more capable of assigning worth to the attributes of others than my own and placing expectations on myself that are not of God. Thanks for the message today.

Anonymous said...

It really has only been in the past couple of years that I have climbed that mountain of learning how to be content being me, imperfections and all. Being a perfectionist makes it hard for me to show the real me. Learning more and more about God's grace has helped me to do so as of late, and having people who love me unconditionally has astounded me, especially when I've messed up big time.
Thanks for your wonderful, thought-provoking post!
Megan

Laura said...

What a beautifully transparent post. It really resonated with me. I think having a fragile self=image puts many of us at risk for imitating the dreams of others. Isn't it good to know that we don't have to be anyone but ourselves and God loves us just the way we are?
Keep dreaming...
Laura

Misty said...

42 comments later, you've obviously hit the nail on the head. it's amazing that we want to be wanted so much, we're willing to be who we're not! i am guilty of this, and have struggled more than ever now that i'm a mom! it's kind of like how julia robert's character doesnt' know she likes eggs benedict instead of just taking on the egg preference of her fiance at the time.... i love how the previous commenter phrased it, putting on the garments that HE has for us!
for the record (and too many csi miami episodes later) i also have no desire to go everglading!!

DeeMarie said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my site. I'm so glad I stopped by yours. What an inspiring story. I too have been caught up chasing other's dreams when I should just continue to live the Life that He has bestowed upon me!!

Julie said...

Dear sweet friend...you are such a captivating beauty.

I love to see the vulnerability of your heart. It radiates the beauty of our Papa.

I spend many years living in an identity that I thought was right for me. It was who I thought everyone wanted me to be.

Papa began to awaken me to see that I was living in a mask. It wasn't the real me. I love that song by Natalie Grant that someone else mentioned "The Real Me". It speaks so profoundly to me.

Sometimes I have felt like I was the odd man out.
Being a passionate woman who loves swimming with God in the depths...well it has not always been accepted well. But you know what, it's who I am.
And I love that part of me, whether others ever embrace me as I am, I am learning to love myself.

What I love about you is your honesty....and the depth that you long for Papa.

You are a true beauty!

Hugs!!!
Julie

Alana said...

My husband and I were just discussing this very thing recently.

I know just recently I have caught myself wondering about a few things that have become important to me and wondered if they really were important to ME or just an important thing I have "borrowed" from someone else.

Great thoughts and great post. I'm liking you more and more every day!

Elizabeth said...

I needed to read this tonight (well, this morning, it's 1:45 a.m.). I am definitely still figuring out who I am and sometimes it is so much easier to simply look at someone else and try to be like them. But it is so much more fulfilling to take the time to search my own heart and allow God to show me who He wants me to be.

Michelle said...

I'm a little behind on responding to comments, but I wanted to thank you for your comment on my post "broken record" - Kayla does want to be such a big helper and I'm trying to have patience with that, while also making sure Lucas gets some space from being smothered! LOL

What an insightful post you've written on dreams - I browsed through some of your posts and you write beautifully!

Wifey said...

What an awesome post. I'm reading "Becoming a Better You" by Joel Osteen and this fell right in line - smiles!

Classic MaMa said...

What a beautiful, honest post. Thank you.

melanie said...

This is a great post, filled with so much truth. Thank you for your encouragement!!

Jamie said...

I love this post! It is exactly what God has been dealing with my heart about recently. It was an encouragement that I neeed today. You said it beautifully!

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