Lately I’ve found myself going back to this one book. I’m not exactly sure how I stumbled upon it, but last year, after I read the first couple of chapters online and picked up a physical copy, I knew it was destined to be a new favorite. More importantly, at the turn of each page, I knew it had the potential to serve as a sensible guide to this season of my life. Last month, I downloaded the audio book, and the author’s words continued to pierce my heart in more ways than one. I felt everything from a renewed sense of hope to deep conviction and sorrow. Yes, tears were shed.
This blog post is not a review of that book, but a picture of what it has stirred in me and a few points that might be helpful for you. Read on for details . . . Oh, and if you really want to know, the name of the book is She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evans Hurst.
Woman In Despair
Want to know a secret? I’ve forgotten what it’s like to dream: To imagine myself doing the things that I want to do, creating the life I want to live, and being the person I want to be. To be fully aware of the things that I’m working towards. To wait in anticipation for things to come. Recently, I tried to pinpoint the day when I stopped dreaming, but my guess is that it happened gradually. That a series of events coupled with unmet expectations got me here, which brings me to the point of this post:
It makes total sense when a person who forgets how to dream falls into despair; and I’ve realized more and more, through reading and self-reflection, that, that person is me. I’ve shared some of the obstacles I’ve encountered in my personal and professional life, so perhaps it’s no secret at all that I’ve given up at times. Still, it’s worth mentioning that I have become more aware of that fact, and now I can focus on remembering old dream, creating new ones, and thereby, conquer my ever-emerging feelings of hopelessness.
Girl With A Vision
As a child, I had quite the imagination. I enjoyed creating collages (or what we now call “vision boards”) and storing magazine clips in folders as small reminders of the things I hoped for. Back then, I would lose sleep painting pictures of the future in my mind and imagining what my life would feel like once I was out on my own. I was a girl with a vision, and to an extent, I understood how I would make that vision my reality — it was only a matter of time. In those days, dreaming was second nature; and on the rough days, it served as an escape.
Revisiting Chrystal’s book encouraged me to think about what it would look like to revive the spirit of that girl. To refuse to let the stressors of day-to-day life dictate how I feel about the future. To take every hopeless thought captive and speak love and life over unfavorable circumstances. To hold on to the Lord’s promises.
Practical Steps Forward
If you’ve found yourself in the same boat as me, here are a few ways to move forward and fight for your dreams (in no particular order):
- Dig Deep. With a trusted friend and/or therapist, talk about what led you to despair. Find a safe space where you can be honest about the things that inhibit your ability to dream and make your life seem hopeless, even if those things stem from your childhood. Personally, I’ve seen the benefits of vocalizing my experiences and engaging in cognitive therapy.
- Change Your Environment. If you’re around people and places that discourage you from dreaming or leave you feeling stuck in the past, do everything in your power to move away from them. Seriously. Spend less time with the people who stifle your dreams and in places that make moving forward seem impossible. It can be as simple as changing your social circle(s) or as challenging as starting over in a new city. Do whatever you need to do within reason.
- Find Positive Role Models. Last month, I made a list of Christian women who inspire me. These women are of all ages and stages of life, but the one thing they have in common is an ability to dream. To take chances in full confidence that the Lord has paved the way. To persevere in the face of life’s challenges. To let the Lord’s promises be their peace when things don’t go as planned. If you’re able to, let your role models know how they’ve inspired you, whether you know them personally or not!
- Get to Know Yourself. Think about what fills you up, what you’re good at, what other people consistently turn to you for, what consumes your thoughts, and where you see room for personal growth; then, take note! These things matter more that you know and becoming more aware of them will help guide you as you pursue your dreams. If you need to make a collage out of it, bust out the art supplies and do that ASAP! Then keep it close.
- Remember to Surrender. This is by far the most challenging step of all. As a Christ follower, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of letting go of the things I’m consciously (and subconsciously) holding on to for dear life. These things could very well be the obstacles standing in the way of making my dreams a reality; and that can’t be ignored. Recognize your inability to let go for what it is, and pray about it often.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here.
If you’re interested, order a copy of Chrystal’s book or download the audio book. I promise it will inspire you to revive your relationship with (and understanding of) the child-like dreamer in you, and ultimately, the person God created you to be.