Dangerous Daydreams

daydreamFor as long as I can remember, “imagination” has had a good rep.  And I have had a good supply of it.  As a kid I didn’t just “wrap Christmas presents”—I performed surgery on anxious patients with nothing but pink safety scissors and a roll of Scotch tape.  I didn’t “iron clothes” for my mother—I hosted a televised special on how to get wrinkles out of an Oxford.  Imagination, I quickly learned, was a great way to pass the time.  And the sorrow.

If I didn’t make the team, I imagined I was the star player.  If the cute boy didn’t like me, I imagined that he did.  And if the cute boy turned out to be a real jerk, well that was the beauty of imagination!  In five seconds flat I could turn him into the man of my dreams.  I always assumed I’d quit daydreaming once some of these dreams were actually realized.  After all, when I had the amazing job, and the exciting life, and the man of my dreams I wouldn’t need to daydream, right?

Unless I didn’t have those things.  Unless somewhere along the way I had created dreams so lofty no reality could compete with them.  No man fulfill them.  No set of circumstances live up to them.   I was probably in my twenties when I finally realized daydreaming could be dangerous.  That it could pave a fast track to discontentment.

I think a lot about it now as I raise two young girls—girls who have already fallen in love with the notion of princesses and fairytales.  On the one hand, I’m a major advocate for imagination.  If I were a fictitious character I’d be Anne of Green Gables, scarcely able to fathom the dreariness of a world without imagination.  But as a woman who’s a smidgen wiser than I used to be, I sidle up to it warily.  Imagine we’re in a fort cooking dinner out of pine cones?  I’m all about it!  Imagine we’re digging for dinosaur bones?  Let’s do it!  Imagine one day every fairy tale wish will come true and life will be perfect?  Don’t do it.  Oh, my sweet little girls, don’t do it.

Because the truth is, you and I were never made for the fairytale.  We weren’t made to live comfortable, easy lives that always make us feel good.  We were made to live one real life, with a real God, who offers real hope in a real and broken world.  My previous post has opened up a floodgate of real Moms sharing their real stories.  It has made me cry, and pray, and rejoice that I am not alone.  I am not journeying with Cinderella and Snow White.  I am journeying with real people—overcomers in Christ with real testimonies.  And I believe that’s exactly the way God intended it to be.  Shortly before leaving His disciples, Jesus warned them that suffering was coming.  He said He was preparing them for it so that in HIM they may have peace.  And then He made this promise: “In this world, you will have prince charming, perfect kids, great hair, loads of free time trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

The answer to the reality of pain—the reason we can stand up under it—has always been and always will be found in Jesus.  That’s the mistake I made so many years ago–when I didn’t make the team, when the cute boy didn’t like me.  I didn’t run to Jesus to remind me that my worth is securely kept in Him.  I didn’t let Jesus satisfy my longing to be known and loved.  Instead I crafted a really puny version of fulfillment and daydreamed about it.  And as soon as the daydream was over, so was the satisfaction.

If there’s one thing I’m realizing the more I blog, it’s that I don’t know your story.  I don’t know whether you love to daydream, or haven’t done it since you were five years old.  I don’t know if the life you’re living right now fills you with joy and peace, or if it leaves you empty and longing for more.  The only thing I know, with wholehearted certainty, is that Jesus is passionate about you.  He is passionate not only to rescue you (John 3:16; Romans 6:23), but to give you an abundant life in Him (John 10:10).  Don’t settle for the daydreams, the way I did for so long, foolishly believing they’re as good as it gets.  They are just a shadow of joy and fulfillment.  Jesus is the real thing.

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19 thoughts on “Dangerous Daydreams

  1. Another great article! I haven’t daydreamed extensively since I was young but now I still dream about buying a house with my husband and the perfect wedding. We will have been married 5 years in March. Originally we just went to the courthouse and I was fine with that but after seeing so many friends and family get married with nice ceremonies I became jealous and felt like something important was missing in my life. That said, I’ve been planning our ceremony for 3 years. Ha! We will be doing it all on our anniversary in March. I’ve had ups and downs in that area where I’ve argued with myself over the importance of it and just wanted to throw my hands up but I can’t seem to quite let it go…..

    1. Kelli, I have been loving reading all your comments on various posts. I feel a little like we’re friends 🙂 . As far as the ceremony goes, I think it’s great. If this is something you’ve always wanted to do and your husband’s game, go for it & enjoy it. But it sounds like you’re realizing that won’t be the end-all of fulfillment, and I think that’s really wise. I really appreciate you sharing your life with me & taking the time to encourage mine!

  2. Several of my young friends had your post Mom vs. Mom. I took a look and was pleased to see you communicate so clearly the unspoken battle women engage in. Don’t think it disappears after the elementary PTA. Unless it’s seen as the wrong war, you’ll battle it through college freshman orientation and your grown child’s wedding. God opened my eyes to its wasted destruction. It is freeing not to battle the fear of what others think.
    Your post on imagination makes a great distinction between creative imagination and fantasizing. When I was a child, imagination was encouraged, but to fantasize was to sin. Today it’s presented as normal. Childhood imagination developed through play cultivates creativity. As the child grows help them develop its use for problem solving. Utlimately, teach them to use it use in thinking about issues and logically debate using creative approaches and illustration to make a point. Warn them of the danger of desiring to escape reality. Creativity and imagination continue to be a useful tool in my life. Today, I’ll use it to figure out what can I make for dinner with my leftovers. But, when it fosters discontent, I wield the most powerful weapon I own, the sword of the Lord, and quote 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

  3. Daydreaming IS dangerous! This is the very reason why I do not care to watch chick flicks/romantic-fall-love-have-no-problems movies. Also, this is one of the reasons why my little girl has not seen any of the popular princes movies…the movies end with happily ever after and leave the viewer thinking that life should be perfect. But the movies always hide reality. I think because I watched so many princes movies as a little girl, that I was given a false idea that once I found my prince charming, perfect house, etc., that life would be grand! This is why I thank you for your inspiration to come to Jesus, especially when prince charming looses his charm, the royal castle has messy bathrooms, and the red sports car is actually a dusty mini van.

  4. Oh I thought I was the only weirdo adult who still has daydreams! I’ve always been that way – as a child, it was playing with toothbrushes in the bathroom sink as if they were people and making up outlandish stories and characters. As an adult, I have come to realize, daydreaming has always been a method to escape reality, bury hurt, run from sadness. There is real danger in that. I never really believed I’d have a perfect life, but in the moments where I am utterly disappointed or discouraged with my reality, I dream up a new one. I’ve always wondered – is it wrong? Is it just that I have a wild imagination? Or does it do damage? Well, I think I know it does damage, or can certainly lead to it. I’m thankful for my creative mind, my daydreams, my imagination – God created me with this ability and it makes me a better writer, storyteller, and mom. But oh, how it can feed my discontentment with life and be used as a coping mechanism – drawing myself into a fantasy world instead of drawing me closer to the Lord for my sense of worth, peace, contentment, and fulfillment. Thanks so much for this.

  5. How timely I ran across your blog. I was just sitting here attempting to complete a list of to-do items and in my head throwing myself a little pity party. Did God really call me to homeschool my kids or am I simply a glutton for punishment? Do I like to make life harder on myself than it needs to be? Why can’t I just send my kids to school like everyone else. I have plenty of good Christian friends whose kids attend public school. I I run across your blog and remember that my life never has been a fairy tale and I have never been super mom. My kids are so much happier now and this isn’t about everyone else’s kids. This is about my kids and my family and what works best for us. So thank you for helping me put a timely stop to my ridiculous pity party.

  6. Thank you! I’ve thought about this topic quite a bit and you applied it to my life as a Mother perfectly. An answer to prayer. You are doing such an important thing by reminding others about the real meaning of life… Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Thanks again!

  7. Very true – dreaming about the easy life on earth can be dangerous. We do not (usually) get to chose “our lot” in life, and “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim 6:6) Perhaps what we need is not to stop dreaming, but to bring those (selfish) desires into submission to Christ? To use our holy imagination to see how to love an unlovable person… to see past our hurt and relate as if we really were like Jesus.

  8. I’m just now coming to the sense that my daydreaming is not good! It started off as harmles thoughts just as you said in your article and then the men in the romance novels were popping up in my head everyday. I’m still struggling with it but I now have little way of controlling it. I don’t watch television certain times of the day, I don’t read magazines (even though I love make-up and fashion) and I don’t read romance novels. Even Christian books. My journey will be long but I know I can do it! This article was amazing! Beautifully written!

  9. Wonderful article! Helps me to know I’m not alone with the daydreaming. It really does leave me utterly unfulfilled when it’s over. But we can have hope and comfort in Jesus.

  10. Thank you so very much for this article. It spoke directly to my situation and reminds me that I should look to Christ for true joy and peace in this life rather than daydreams. God bless you and your family!

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