Man I’m stoked. It’s early, about 5:45 in the morning. I just finished my workout, showered, ate breakfast and now sitting down with my coffee to start this post before my boys wake up and my real day begins. I’m living my dream.
Not a bad start for my day eh? Perhaps you’re a bit envious of my own enthusiasm? Sounds like I’ve got it all together? After all this post is featured on the internet, the land of masks and false personas. I admit I’m a bit tempted to leave my introduction as is, but I can’t. A more accurate depiction goes as follows.
Man I’m tired. It’s early, too early. I just survived my workout, rushed my shower, ate baby yogurt for breakfast and now sitting with my burnt coffee with hopes of getting a good start on this post before the day’s madness beings.
Not so glamorous, but I assure you it’s just as fulfilling. My first take is how I envision my dream, the second is how it actually plays out. Either way I’m still living my dream. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t always feel wonderful, and often I lose sight on my dream and focus on the reality around me; you know the usual stuff, baby spit-up, writer’s block, sick kids, screaming fits, poor book sales, underwhelming blog traffic. I believe people who get most discouraged with their lives are the ones who overlook the blessings in their life.
Sounds too fluffy so I’ll get to an example.
Five years I worked at a psychiatric and behavioral management facility.
I was a school teacher for residential patients ages 11-18. Name a psychosis and I probably had a patient with that problem. I’d have as much as 11 kids at one time in a classroom that could comfortably seat 6. Some were there for suicide, others for anger management, drug abuse, schizophrenia- you get the idea. Problem was I had all types, both genders, and every psychosis mixed together in a small room with one window I had to keep closed so my kids wouldn’t cuss out any passersby.
When I first took on the job I was a recent graduate eager to put my MAT to work. Andrea and I had no kids at the time and life was simple, as was my dream. I wanted to enjoy life with my wife and be a positive influence for my students, especially young men. Everyday I drove to work and focused on being a breath of fresh air for everyone I encountered.
I broke up fights on a weekly basis, sometimes daily. I never gave an assignment where I had 100% participation. A good day would see half my class work on an assignment. A triumph insisted when a student actually learned something. I was called every name in the book AND some (I was blessed with very creative students). I cleaned up food, vomit, snot, blood, poop and feminine products (used); suffered 3 busted lips, 2 black eyes and 1 bone bruise. My students had me conditioned to rest my hand on my wall-mounted pencil sharpener whenever one of them raised their voice. For whatever reason it was usually the first thing they’d try to throw.
So was I living my dream? I can assure you it hardly felt that way. Often I came home, disgruntled, disheartened, discouraged and just dissed in general. Here is how bad it got. I broke both of my arms (not work related) and had to miss 2 months of work. In short I was relieved and I welcomed the incident with open arms- casts and all. That’s how jaded I got with my job! However, I can honestly say in hindsight I was living my dream. No for real!
Here’s what I’ve learned
A dream is a gift. I believe Cinderella said, A dream is a wish your heart makes. Sorry princess, it doesn’t work that way. A dream is a way God guides and directs us. See we have a twisted idea of what a dream ought to be. Our culture teaches that it is of our own creation. That if we have a dream we shouldn’t let anyone or anything get in our way and just go for it. When really a dream is from God, tailor made to suite or strengths, personality, life experiences and most importantly His will. Our dreams aren’t here to serve us, they are given to us to ultimately serve God.
I can’t explain how liberated I felt once I accepted that my dreams are not my own but God’s.
In Genesis we learn about Joseph and his dreams. In short he dreams that his brothers will bow down to him. When he shares his dream with them they sell him to slave traders. I doubt it felt like Joseph was living the dream, but it wasn’t Joseph’s dream alone, it was God’s vision for Joseph’s life. If you read the story you’ll learn the twist and turns that eventually land Joseph as the 2nd in command of all of Egypt. His brother’s ended up bowing down to Joseph after all.
I learned much about myself while I taught at that facility. Most definitive being my love to tell stories. It was within the crucible of my classroom that I forged the beginnings of my writing career, by writing out short stories in hopes to get my kids interested in reading. For the most part it was a failure, but I discovered that I love to write. Looking back I can see that was a season of my life that I believe God used to mold and fashion me. He was preparing to reveal my next dream- A full time stay-at-home dad who likes to write and tell stories while influencing young men. Hindsight is everything, but now I see I was living my dream because God had his hand in it.
A wise person kept telling me to be grateful for that difficult season. Though I didn’t come home with a smile on my face I think my wife may agree that there was still an underlying characteristic of peace about me. That didn’t come from my own doing. The peace was a gift from God because I chose to be grateful for that job and for those kids. I chose to be grateful for those trials. I chose to be grateful for the simple dream of reaching kids and the path he laid before me to fulfill it.
Our society would say that I sold my dream out and settled for a stressful job that only paid the bills. I disagree. Now I can see God was preparing me for the next stage of His plan for my life. You see it’s not my dream I’m chasing after, but His will. When we desire God’s will, he will equip us for our journey. MY journey now consists of me staying at home with my children and writing, a life I wouldn’t have previously believed I would have enjoyed or find fulfilling, but here I am living and loving the dream God gave me.
I believe when we make His will for our lives a priority we will find peace and fulfillment. He will make His will our dreams. When that happens you will be inspired like never before and you will have confidence when adversity strikes against your dreams, because if you are chasing after God’s will you can bet on one thing… It will become a reality, which is infinitely more fulfilling than reaching for the stars.