God Has A Better Dream For Me

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May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”   Psalm 20:16

I saw the movie “La La Land” this past weekend, and enjoyed it immensely. Without giving too much away, it’s the story of young, hopeful performers in Los Angeles, two of whom fall in love. One of the main characters sang a song called “The Ones Who Dream”, a sweet and sincere tribute to people who create. Here’s how the chorus goes:

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

Walking out of the theater, memories of my own stab at fame back in my 20’s came to mind. I could relate to all the feelings of longing and angst the characters expressed. It was a time filled with tremendous energy – when every audition was fraught with both hope and anxiety. After several crazy years I finally had to step back and look at things more realistically. It was the right thing to do, but painful. After all,  I was walking away from a dream I’d had since childhood.

Ironically, insecurity was probably my strongest trait back then. And since I had no relationship with God, I was on my own. My answer to feelings of insecurity was to push myself harder, usually with affirmations like I am talented and special! Positive thinking had it’s limits, though, and so did my own strength.

Like the music in the movie, letting go of my dream to make the big time was bittersweet. But I realize now that doing that opened the door to a whole other kind of life. God had actually planted a desire in my heart that went deeper than artistic success, and His plan was to make my best dreams come true.

I’m sure no one who made “La La Land” intended it to have any kind of message about God. But for me, the story was a great reminder of how tough life is without Him, and how blessed I am to have His strength and vision for my journey.

 

Subbing

I work as a substitute teacher in a couple of area school districts. This is actually the second time around. I tried it about 20 years ago, when I was much younger and very clueless – needless to say it didn’t go well.

In the decades between then and last year I worked as a preschool teacher and raised two kids. Both those experiences made me better at interacting with children and using what my kids call the “mom” scowl. (Don’t underestimate the disciplinary power of a good scowl!)

As I did those first early assignments, my attitude wasn’t right. I had been trying to prove my worth by, among other things, what job I had. Substitute teaching felt like the bottom rung of the ladder, and I was a bit ashamed to be doing it. And I lacked the humility to learn from my mistakes and misjudgments. I was miserable every day, and I’m sure the students could tell.

Luckily, by the time I decided to try again last year, God had taught me a few things. There were two especially faulty beliefs I had been holding on to.

  • I was trying to impress everybody, especially myself, by what I did
  • I was expecting perfection in every area of my life

Do either of those sound familiar to you? If they do, you know how exhausting they are to lug around all the time. And you know how they keep you feeling bad about yourself.

So how did God start breaking me free and getting me ready to sub again? For starters, He changed my focus. In my old mindset, I was very me-centered: How do I look? Am I good enough? Compare that with fixing my gaze on God, and seeing His majesty, feeling His acceptance.

Then, He helped me grow in humbleness. I thought turning up the pressure to perform would motivate me to stop making mistakes. But the only thing that did in the end was make me more anxious and discouraged. God wanted to show me grace and grow me in wisdom instead, but I had to drop the illusion of becoming perfect.

As I drove into school this morning, I prayed for God’s help to be a servant to the teachers and children, and for His Holy Spirit to be in the classrooms. And as I looked over the teacher’s plans for me, I reminded myself that doing my best was enough.

It was a good day.