Post Grad Duck #7
Do you remember what it was like to be in elementary school? Remember what it was like to finish math, eat lunch, and then rush outside for recess? Remember when pine cones were bread, rocks were plates, and trees were our homes? Remember when just being outside was enough entertainment to last all day? I think because I’m getting ready to move out of my college apartment and say goodbye to Boone, I’ve been doing a lot of childhood reflecting. I was such a dreamer in those days. My imagination was deep and my thoughts seemed to run for miles. At the age of 5 I was naively optimistic and that’s okay when you’re 5, but I remained in this mindset at least until my 20th birthday. Since then, it seems like my optimism turned into a cynicysm that I never thought I’d have. I still dreamed, but far less. I still found entertainment outside, but more so when I was accompanied by my phone.
I didn’t like this change. I recognized that my naivety was maturing and that was good, but I felt foolish for dreaming. I felt silly for having my head in the clouds. I started to compare myself to those around me. If person X is really organized and sees things in straight lines, then maybe I should do the same? And well, person Y reads books by authors with names I dare not attempt to pronounce, so maybe I should look into that? Oh, person Z is only listening to obscure bands with lyrics that you discuss with people in a dimly lit room while sipping black coffee and smoking cigars, so maybe I should just give up my Demi Lovato binge days?
For the past two years, I thought that growing up meant that I had to give up so many things I loved for the sake of proving that I’m an “adult.” Recently, I’ve learned that being an “adult” doesn’t mean that I can’t dream–quite the opposite holds true.
“When you learn to pray, you learn to dream again,” says Paul Miller, the author of A Praying Life. As adults, prayer is hard. Miller makes the point to express the fact that as we age the more critical and cynical we become–we lose our child like faith because the logic of it all is so much less.
For example, as a child I would often ask my dad if he would bring home Auntie Anne’s pretzels from the Galleria Mall where he worked as a sales associate at the Verizon store when we lived in New York. I asked because I never believed that my dad would say no. I asked because the pretzel store was not far away from where my dad worked. I asked because I wanted a pretzel and I was confident in the fact that my dad would get it for me. Why? Because he was my dad. That was enough reason for me to ask my dad for anything.
Now, “because he’s my dad,” is not a good enough reason. Now, my response would be “So?” “He’s just a person.” “He’s flawed.” “Other factors could interfere.” “Let’s test it out to make sure that he can come through.” Critical and cynical. My childlike belief has vanished and with it, so has my dreaming.
Miller puts it this way
The second thing we must do in learning to pray is believe like a child. Children are supremely confident of their parent’s love and power. Instinctively, they trust They believe their parents want to do them good. If you know your parent loves and protects you, it fills your world with possibility. You just chatter away with what is on your heart. It works the same in the world of prayer. If you learn to pray, you learn to dream again. I say “again” because every child naturally dreams and hopes. To learn how to pray is to enter the world of a child, where all things are possible. Little children can’t imagine that their parents won’t eventually say yes. They know if they keep pestering their parents, they’ll eventually give in. Childlike faith drives this persistence.
At 21, I have the rest of my life ahead of me. Lord willing, I have years and years and years to dream and hope and believe. As I press into the heart of my Father I can take on the role of daughter and act as a daughter would. Growing up doesn’t mean that I have to lose my sense of wonder and curiosity. Because the fact of the matter is, even as an adult there is still so much that I don’t know. I have to ask my Father because as His daughter there is so much that He has yet to teach me. There is a great difference between being childlike and childish. Maturity, growth, and even adulthood is an understanding of the difference between the two.
I like how Miller uses “again” when he talks about hoping and dreaming. It’s a return, a return to the likeness of a child. We must return to the dependency children have upon their parents when it comes to our walk with Jesus. The older we get, the more we should see our need for a Savior. Our sin becomes more immense, but so should the immensity of our God. And in such immensity is fullness of joy, unbelievable hope, unfailing love, immeasurable grace, and endless dreaming.
So, what I guess I need to say to myself is: It’s okay, Jayna. Go back, dream again. Return to your Father. Ask away…
[Papa, I want to dream again…]