Okay, guys, it’s the last week of school for my kids. Every other school district in town has been out since the beginning of time, but my kids still have until Friday because justice is not on our side.
We are in mourning until our people are at last released. I have bought all sorts of delicious snack foods so we can eat our feelings. We are taking late night walks and doing puzzles and watching movies to survive the last futile week of school.
But on Friday, all our summer dreams will come true:
Okay, we have no actual beach here in Austin, but we have pools and Barton Springs, so we’ll eat our hot dogs there instead. The point is, Friday=Dreams Come True.
Speaking of dreams, I watched La La Land for the billionth time last night. I keep trying to find myself in that movie, but I can’t figure out how I fit in it. I realize that isn’t the point of a movie, but this one is so pretty, I want to live in it. Besides, it’s about Los Angeles, and I love and miss living in LA every day. LA really is the city of dreams; every palm treed street and waiter-who-wants-to-be-an-actor will tell you that LA is the place beautiful things can happen to the most unlikely person.
There is this gut-wrenching scene in La La Land, when Emma Stone’s character, Mia, has given up on her Hollywood dream. She says the most scary, vulnerable thing ever: “Maybe I’m not good enough…. Maybe I’m one of those people that has always wanted to do it, but it’s like, a pipe dream for me.”
Of course, magical things happen for Mia. But one sad thing happens in her life, too. When you already know the end of her story as you watch this moment of self-doubt, the scene becomes weightier than the first time you ached for her. You know Mia has what it takes to achieve one of her dreams, but not another.
This scene soaked into me as I watched it last night. It has me wondering how you know if you get to be the unlikely person that the magical thing happens to? Or how can you know if you’re chasing a pipe dream, and you should let it go? For instance: what if you ditch your dreams and move to Texas to marry the best guy you know? I mean, hypothetically speaking, what does that say about you and your dreams?
The gritty truth is that there are people who are absolutely good enough and yet, for bizarre or random reasons, they never make it. I knew so many talented actors, artists, and musicians in Los Angeles. That was in the ancient times, before blogs and YouTube made success and fame a thing that could be manufactured from the privacy of your own home. If no one opened the door for my insanely talented friends back in those prehistoric times, there were very few ways they could open that door for themselves.
Many people are in similar situations right now, despite the ubiquitous presence of the internet. The market on self-made fame is pretty saturated currently. No one really wants to follow another blog or channel. Everyone is weary of signing up for email lists. The thrill of free content has kind of lost its appeal. A whole new generation of talent has been boxed out of success in a lot of ways.
Oh, boy, here we are, trying to figure out success and failure again. Thanks a lot, Emma Stone.
We know something Emma’s lovely Mia didn’t know, though. We know a God who is active and present in our lives. How are our dreams and our faith supposed to live together within us? How should our faith inform and influence our dreams? Are our dreams supposed to become a vehicle for our faith, giving wings to things like love and mercy and justice?
These kinds of questions hurt my head a little.
If I’m honest, sometimes life feels like a giant game of Would You Rather, asking us crazy things like, “Would you rather be a healthy, whole person with life-giving relationships, or would you rather be a raging success in your dream career?”
Every time I throw the messy dreams I’m pursuing down in front of God, he tells me the same thing: “Carrie, you’re making this too complicated. Success has never been defined what you’re doing. It’s always been about who you’re becoming.”
This is where many Hollywood movie plots and God’s real plans take different approaches to happy endings. Hollywood makes happy endings that give the characters everything they ever wanted: usually some version of love or achievement. In the Kingdom, God offers us everything he’s always been: love, mercy, kindness, eternity, holiness, truth, grace, righteousness, goodness.
If you’re out there waiting for the end of a grueling season of fighting for your dream to come true, I want you to know I think you’re amazing. I know it seems like everyone else already gets to be and do exactly what they wanted, and that you’re chained to a desk that is too small to ever hold the life of your dreams. But Jesus said a lot about small things, and how they become great things in him. Wherever you are today is only the beginning. Eternity is rolled out before you and it will be like the greatest summer vacation anyone has ever known. God is not a pipe dream, and neither are the hopes and dreams that are growing in your heart.
Your faithfulness is more valuable than you know. Holding onto God is all it takes to make all the best dreams come true. You absolutely have what it takes, because God has already done all the hard parts for you.
Whatever you do, don’t let go.