I was walking home from taking the kids to school this morning and passed the tiniest sprout of a tree.
There was nothing impressive about it. Almost looked like a joke pushing up through the ground. Except that it had this little yellow tag tied onto it, naming it’s identity: Live Oak. This tree hardly resembled what we think of when we see a Live Oak. They are one of the largest and most majestic trees in Florida; a cathedral of cascading branches, light and moss. They are stately monuments of beauty. And what I saw this morning looked nothing more than a humble scraggly twig. And in this I saw my dreams, our dreams…
When we’re kids it feels like the sky’s the limit on what we can do and who we can be. You wanna be an astronaut? Sure! You wanna be a painter or an author or the president??? Anything is possible! ‘Go for your dreams,’ we’re encouraged. Then we grow up…
I was just talking with a woman, a fellow mom, who said she tried to live into her dreams but it didn’t work. So now she doesn’t know what to do. This sounds so familiar. Dreaming is hard. And it’s often met with a ‘no’. So what do we do? What does it look like to dream as an adult?
I’m just going to let that question hang there for a minute. Sit in its weight…
Ok, so the unimpressive twig with a grand identity, it doesn’t look like much now…yet. But it’s surely on it’s way to becoming, it's in process. A passage I keep coming back to is “Don’t despise these small beginnings” (Zech 4:10). This twig surely has a small beginning, but I can’t blame it for it. It’s worth is not in how it looks today, but rather in its identity. It is a Live Oak, that is what it’s on its way to becoming. This is in its DNA, the fabric of its being. That doesn’t change based on how it looks at any point in time.
Our dreams are a part of who we are, what we are made to do and be. It’s in the fabric of our being. To squelch them is to squelch an important part of who we are and thus we become a lesser version of ourselves. But do we go around squelching our own dreams? Often not. More likely it comes from the hard ‘no’ which pours the water that puts out the fire inside of us. It’s the challenges and unmet expectations that make us pack our dreams away and hide them up on a shelf.
But what if we dared to press on despite the difficulties around daring to dream? What if we took courage from knowing it’s a part of our identity? We might not have a little yellow tag labeling us, but it’s written on our hearts. What if we stepped into a bigger and truer reality?
We, like oaks, have to start somewhere. If this twig compared itself to the large billowing oak planted by the lake down the street it would feel like an insignificant failure. Except that the comparison is futile because it’s already in process of becoming. It’s roots are going down into the soil and each day it matures, getting a little fuller. If we judge it by the progress we see in a day it seems like a waste of time. But come back in 10 years and we’d be amazed at the change and growth and flourishing.
My song ‘Roots’ (you can listen to it here) is about this. Investing in what is unseen, sending our roots down deep so that what is seen on the outside can flourish and grow. This is true for our souls and also our dreams. I can’t play the piano any better if I don’t practice. I can’t love others better if I don’t tend to my own heart and take time to draw near to the source of Love itself. It all matters, all the little things, the seemingly insignificant steps we take in the monotony of a day which propel us into this great becoming.
So press on dear one. Take courage today. Do not give up. Do not settle to leave your dreams up on a shelf. Take down that box, open it up, remember what’s inside and take it with you. There is hope. You are becoming. Life is not lived in the snapshots of a day or a moment but rather it’s made up of all the millions of them connected together. They all matter. Your dreams matter.