DNA of a Dreamer
Dreamers can be annoying. They are relentless. They won’t stop. I can identify them after a short conversation.
They are people who are willing to sacrifice respect of others and be perceived as a bit ‘weird’. They believe the impossible can happen, that anyone can make a difference.They are people willing to study in an area where they may find it hard to gain employment; people who work a mediocre job because it gives them more time to volunteer doing something they see great value in. They write down grand visions and dare to believe that they can happen.They are people who walk into their school, uni or workplace and make a decision to smile at that one really annoying person, because they know that one day the environment could change and they will be a pioneer of it. Those dreamers are the ones who are willing to put money where their mouth is. Sometimes their plans fail, but they will keep trying. Sometimes they go on a tangent that makes everyone shake their head… but often that tangent results in change.
Dreamers can be infuriating. No matter how many reasons ‘why not’ you give them, they will give you a reason ‘why’. Dreamers make things change. Spend enough time with them and they will make you think about why you live the way you do, simply because they are often thinking this of themselves. They may take a little while to realise certain things about themselves but they will eventually, because although a dreamer has their head in the clouds, their feet are on the ground, They know they need to get the job done. They are the revolutionaries, the ones willing to question the way things are done. You can’t shut them up. Oh, maybe you can get them to quieten down for awhile, but sooner or later they will be back on their feet, seeing what positive could come from a negative situation. You either love them or hate them. They will live and die for a cause.
Someone once asked me to describe myself in three words.
I thought about it seriously for a bit and then said…… encouraging, passionate and….. a ‘dreamer’. There you go. I’ve admitted it. I’m one of them. Relentless, continually challenging the status quo. It has its positives and its negatives. Let’s have a look at them shall we?
Even since I was little I dreamed of making someone smile. All those little concerts my sister and I performed in our fairy tutus in the front lounge… not only were they because I wanted our visitor (or my bewildered parents) to admire my rad dance moves, but they happened because I dreamed of making them happy. Maybe if I showed them how happy I was, they would be happy too?
These dreams didn’t limit themselves to be shown at home. Heading into primary school my sister and I were….those Christian people. Everyday without fail, we would stand on some steps and sing our favourite songs (with actions of course). I had no notion that someone wouldn’t enjoy it and wouldn’t want to join us; and funnily enough, a lot did. I dreamed of my school friends knowing Jesus. Not because it was a ‘Christian thing’ to do, but because He would make them really happy.
When people ask me of the moment I became a Christian, I struggle to identify it. My answer is simply that I was brought up being taught about God. I knew he was real like the sky is blue. The idea of Jesus being a myth, a simple man, a religious figure… it confused me. I was a dreamer, to the point where I did not understand why other people couldn’t understand me.
This harsh reality hit me like a truck when I was in Year 5. Suddenly all these girls I’d invited along to church events decided they’d had enough of the ‘dreamer’. I was confused. I thought I was a nice person, I just wanted them to be happy. Jesus made me happy, so I told them about him. My dreamer function took a hard hit when, just like in a movie, there was a face off in the school playground. Me vs. what seemed to be 20 other girls (It was probably just three), each taking turns to tell me I was weird, that I talked about Jesus too much and that they were sick of my invitations (although most had been to some church thing before, and some repetitively). Didn’t I know that this was the reason I was never invited to parties (there were parties i wasn’t invited too)?
Ouch. I laid off the singing and dancing act for a bit. My ‘friends’ weren’t happy like I dreamed after hanging out with me. Better make a hasty exit (this is where being a twin comes in handy, at least we could be alone together).
Then the dreamer came back.
By 15, the dreamer had tailored her approach a little. Although still quite overt about a love for Jesus, I tried to be somewhat approachable. I had finally realised that being a Christian was ‘not cool’ and that perhaps some people thought I was a bit ‘different’. Oh, there were still occasions that I face palm at in recollection, but the people who took the time to talk with me knew that I was more then a stereotype. With the arrival of suicidal thoughts and a chronic illness, life took on a different form and the dreamer died a little. I felt like a phoney. I thought I was meant to be happy and confident all the time. I thought I was meant to be someone who saw the good and dreamed of a ‘better tomorrow’. If I couldn’t do that for myself, how was I going to do that for others? But I refused to give up. The dreamer in me became a support mechanism. I had to see the good. I had to dream of something better, greater. I had to dream of helping other people find hope, otherwise I did not feel like I could hold on anymore.
I went back to what I knew in Year 10. I found a handful of dreamers and we started meeting together. We held little events and we gave out icy poles. We told people about Jesus and tried to show them that a life believing in him didn’t have to be lame. Unfortunately, the dreamer in me wasn’t completely open minded and at times I became that nine year old Christian kid who loved to preach at anyone who walked by. This took on many forms and I got myself into a lot of awkward situations- not only with students but with teachers. I was confused. Let’s repeat the Year 5 situation again; except for the fact that people were trying to show me how to tailor the ‘dreamer’ approach, the feelings were all the same. Rejected. Refused. I questioned my identity. The dreamer didn’t know what to do.
By Year 12, I felt like I hadn’t made a difference. I felt like I’d only used the ‘dreamer’ as an excuse.There hadn’t been a mass salvation. My dream for people to know there was a hope beyond all hopes had failed.
Cue the year after school, and the dreamer was…. lost. What is a dreamer and why the heck would I want to call myself one? The cynic in me reared its ugly head. Why dream? What’s the point? You can’t make a difference. you don’t even know how to make a difference. Ouch. Self doubt- that comment burns.
I tried my hand at little projects and my heart grew a bit larger as I learned of what people around me had experienced. I gained a great love for the people in my city. I didn’t know what to do with that love, so I would write about it. I would pray about it. I would buy a homeless man a sandwich. It wasn’t much, but it stirred something in my heart- a dream. Maybe I could be a part of something bigger then myself after all?
That’s when I realised what identifies a dreamer- someone wanting to be a part of something that is bigger then themselves. Then one day the dreamer was fully awakened again. Not by an inspirational tune, a life crisis or the words of friend, but by God himself. Suddenly puzzle pieces fitted together, suddenly things became clear. I dreamed of a movement of Hope that would sweep across my city, the nation and the world beyond (that’s the thing with dreamers, you can’t contain them).
All I had ever wanted was for people to be happy; to feel loved and valued, accepted and empowered to make a difference. Jesus embodies this, but what if instead of mentioning Jesus first and then explaining all those great things about him, I showed people these attributes and then told them Jesus was the reason why. Show love and then when they ask why, simply tell them Jesus. No need to preach, no need to be religious or legalistic. Just love.
There is a time and a place to mention Jesus first, but I have realised that before anything else, Jesus loved people irrespective of whether they loved or respected him. This was to be my approach.
This is when I realised what identifies a dreamer from someone who simply has big ideas. A dreamer has a plan of action, and they will see it through no matter what. Hope Movement happened and continues to happen because of this. Paperwork seems tedious, but once the dreamer is activated it becomes a part of the adventure of breaking stigmas and restoring people. Leading people can be tiring, but it becomes a privilege when I realise they have the same vision and dream as I do. The little things can seem just that, until I get a message telling me a few simple words kept someone from taking their own life. Now 5 years on from school, I am suddenly having a strange occurrence whenever I bump into someone from my class. People started saying ‘thankyou’ for dreaming big, for being passionate, for having a vision, for loving them even though we were different. Seems I was a part of a small culture shift after all. Sometimes fruit isn’t always grown straight away and that’s okay.
So dreamers, keep on keeping on. Don’t settle for anything but a dream fulfilled; but make sure the foundations of your dream can’t be shaken.A dream won’t last unless it is one of integrity, ingenuity, revolution and reformation.
You are not your dream, nor does your dream define you. Oh, being a dreamer is a part of you- but not the actual fruits of it. We are our own worst enemies so don’t be to hard on yourself, God made you to think outside the box. Surround yourself with those who see the vision and help you implement it. Another thing I’m learning- dreamers do the hard yards. So don’t think of yourself as only a ‘big picture’ person. To see the vision appear in its entirety you will need to be more dedicated then anyone else; you will need to do the annoying little things that you didn’t even know existed until you started looking at the whose, hows and whys of the social, political, cultural, spiritual and economical structure you are breaking into.
But you can do it- just not by yourself. True dreamers lead others forward. Work with those who can do things you can’t, who have the same vision and passion for the cause you do. They are out there, trust me. Better to have three people sold out for a cause, then fifty who are fence sitters. Let people’s actions, time and respect show their dedication for the cause. I believe in you. Don’t give up. If things don’t work out the way you expect, take some time to re evaluate your approach, make sure your heart and intentions are right and carry on.
You see, you can try and outrun your dreams. You can fake apathy. You can silence them with fear or retreat from your them and hide; but the dreams will always be there. The dreamer DNA won’t go away. You’ve been created this way. You’re a mover and a shaker, a see’r and a doer, a believer and an implementer. A leader and a fighter.
You are a dreamer.