The Process, Not the End

John Lennon was right: he was not the only dreamer. As an adult, those of us who have lofty goals sometimes feel alone in our desires. We feel wrong because we can’t seem to find happiness in a 9-5 job. We feel isolated when the house with a white fence, 2.5 kids and a dog just isn’t right for us. We feel stranded when people tell us things like, that’s a nice thought, when you truly believe it can happen.

But we all started out as little big dreamers. We all started out wishing we could fly, believing our tree-houses were castles which must be defended from dragons. Whether skilled or not, we could be ballerinas, doctors, astronauts. Those dreams changed all the time, too! At some point, the real world took over and made dreams about success, status and achievement rather than fun. We either continued on to become workaholics or faced with a lie that we could never “do it,” we settled for mundane mediocrity. I suppose we did so because one day we discovered the menace of all dreams: disappointment.

Disappointment, if rooted into even the most passionate of hearts, could stop a dreamer from ever dreaming again. The goal, the school, the career was the ultimate thing. And when we didn’t achieve it, we believed dreaming was pointless. Rather we chose to walk through the rest of our lives stomaching whatever life served up. We get disappointed because we put too much pressure on the end result of the dream, rather than enjoying the process of dreaming it…or whatever may one day replace it.

God gave me an incredible gift to sing and write music. For a while, I dreamed that I was going to write songs that would touch the whole world. After a few years of doing everything I could to meet that goal, I got burned out because I didn’t achieve it on my timeline. I since thought God had only created me for that purpose, I certainly didn’t believe I would be good for anything else.

I tried dreaming some other dreams after that. But with every disappointment, I would stop pursuing them. Often, I would stop pursuing God because I was angry that He didn’t get me to the end, the success, the achievement of “His purpose” for my life. As adults, our dreams can make us toxic if we forget the point of why we had the dream in the first place. Beautiful God-breathed hopes and desires turn into darkened, Gollum-like creature filled places in our hearts when we allow them to become our obsession. We want them, but yet we hate them, and in doing so, do nothing with them.

And then I read this:

We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end. – Oswald Chambers

Last night, I was laying on the couch with my husband listening to some songs he’d written in high school. We were laughing together, talking about the past, present and future. In a peaceful moment, I realised (morbidly, perhaps) that all of this dreaming ends at death. Is it even worth worrying about what I haven’t yet attained or may never attain? All I have is right now and I have to live it to its fullest.

We were given this life not to speak to thousands, to perform in stadiums, to own BMWs or Rolex watches. Not even to find the cure for cancer or rocket up to the moon. If we accomplish those things, we might get praise and adoration from others, but the only thing that glorifies God is who we became in the process.

Chambers continues,

His end is the process –  that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that all is right because I see Him walking on the sea.

Dreams are wonderful, beautiful things. But just like children, one day slaying dragons and the next driving race-cars, those dreams change. When the only thing that could be called success was once a stadium full of people singing along with your music, it somehow simplifies into your incredible children reciting the alphabet song in your living room. God doesn’t care if the world knows who you are; He only cares if you know who He is.

His two biggest asks of you and me are to firstly love Him, and secondly, love people. No matter what you do or what you accomplish in your life, if you don’t do those two things, you’ve really done nothing. “His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future,” Chambers writes. Have you spent this minute doing more to love him and love people or to achieve your success? I don’t know if I have.

Please don’t stop dreaming. Dreams are powerful. Dreams change lives. Dreams change the world. If you stopped dreaming, pray for something that will move you along in your process. You may never achieve it, but it will surely teach you something more about who you are and who God is. However, if you are consumed by a dream, I encourage you to let it go. Locate where you are in your process. Ask who you’ve become. Aim for something that might seem less fulfilling to the world in which you live, and decide if you can be at peace there. You never know when it might become part of your path again, but for now, realign yourself.

Keep on dreaming, but please note, whether you reach your goal or not, it’s the process, not the end that counts.


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