When Momma is close but her mind is far | Marvelous Mundane
I’m sitting on the hardwood bedroom floor, running my fingers through a yellow Lego box, thinking another moment sifting will inspire a masterpiece. The little boys next to me need no such help. The younger one scatters waves of blocks with his Lego speed boat, the older one proudly holds up his one-of-a-kind car for my praise.
My body may be inches away from these boys playing next to me, but my mind flies miles away and years ahead. The swirls in my head aren’t just urgent questions and necessary decision making: my mind drifts to places I’d rather be, people I’d rather see. My imagination constructs future conversations, someday accomplishments.
Some of these dreams come from God-placed stirrings in my heart, while others are my attempts to soothe disappointments. At their best, these mind wanderings push me to purposeful living and intentional planning. At their worst, they steal my heart away from this living in this moment and loving in these relationships. And they blind my mind to the greatest thing found in every moment inside history: God’s grace and presence given to us in Jesus.
From the beginning, we were created with whispers burning in our souls, turning our eyes to a greater future, a lasting hope. Our God is rich in wonder and imagination, this God who sees all of time in the space of a moment. From His first promise of redemption in the garden, to His to promise of a people to Abraham, to guiding His people to a promised land, He has been a God of present promises and future hopes.
We have a taste of these promises ourselves; when we respond to the gospel of grace, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of Heaven. In Paul’s theologically rich letter to the Ephesians, he describes the Holy Spirit as the “earnest”, a small payment giving confidence that we will someday receive the full amount. God’s transforming presence inside our very selves is a small taste of the incredible glory we will know when we finally see God face to face.
And then, there is the ultimate promise of heaven. There is no daydream, no romantic vision, no human praise or accomplishment that compares to the beauty waiting in eternity. All throughout the Bible, Heaven’s reality inspires earth’s perspective. Knowing the story’s end keeps us pushing through the hard parts and heartache, the mundane and the going insane.
I am both an unashamed-spoilers-reader and hide-my-face-in-a-pillow-movie-watcher. And you know what can keep my eyes on the screen when things aren’t going my way? When I know that all this confusion and pain and disappointment makes a greater story, a richer ending.
To find the place where dreaming doesn’t remove my heart from fully the life in front of me, I don’t need to give up dreaming entirely: I need a dream filter. Because daydreaming doesn’t always fall into the black and white spaces of right and wrong. It meanders through the paths of inspirational, fantasy, life-changing and time wasting. So it falls on us to decide: does this piece of dreaming fit into faithfully living out this piece of life?
Questioning our Dreams
Is this daydream of mine a life-giving dream, or does it steal mental energy and strength needed for this day? Just as our hope of heaven paints purpose across the moments of ordinary days, dreams should open our eyes to the eternal meaning in ordinary living. Whether it’s remembering the faithfulness of a God who redeems each piece of the story, or the understanding that there is no such thing as an unimportant person or a meaningless situation.
Does this dream bring my heart back to the ultimate reality of a real, loving God, or does it create discontent with my past, present, or projected future? Sometimes big dreams bring regret over a past that screams limitations. The unfinished degree, the untaken opportunity, the undeserved pain, the unresolved relationship. Dreams resting on the reality of a present and powerful God free us from the chains of the past and the fears of the future. And dreams resting on the work of God keep hope alive: it doesn’t all rest on me!
Does it motivate deeper love in my relationships, or foster resentment and frustration? Our thinking of “what could be” or "what should have been" can steal way our hearts from “what is”. It’s not about sugarcoating our circumstances or pretending people are what they aren’t; It’s about a peace with the present and a love for these people that I can’t manufacture myself. Dreams can steal away the growth waiting for us while learning wise choices in challenging situations.
Does it come from a wish to escape the present, or desire a to live faithfully in the future? Days with small children spill over with simple repetition: diapers, bottles, feedings, play, naps, correction, snuggles, bedtime. This season can seem to take everything I have, yet leave a part of me behind. Often my dreams in my this season fill with the parts of me feeling tucked away, saved for later. These dreams can stir up resentment, but they can also wake up contemplation. Because maybe, just maybe, those parts of me are meant to shape this family now. Our dreams can remind us that we aren’t meant to live cookie-cutter lives.
These places our minds wander serve as windows into our hearts. When we notice a pattern woven into our thinking, it’s an opportunity to understand which beliefs and desires are actually guiding our lives. And then we have the opportunity to bathe those spots with truth and hope, to speak God’s power, God’s presence, and God’s promises deep inside our hearts.
We don’t need to give up dreaming, squash our imaginations, and stifle hopes. We need to harness this piece of ourselves to dream deeper and hope higher for the glory of God.