The Humility To Dream

I am a dreamer who loves to dwell in possibility. Sometimes I dwell in possibiliti(es)… driving my poor here-and-now husband crazy. Dreams are almost as precious to me as my babies – conceived, nurtured, and brought to life.

As I have been getting ready to move to a new country it seems that as a sojourner I have to do with my dreams the exact same thing that I do with my stuff: sort them into piles. Which dreams do I pack and bring with me? Which do I have to give away to someone else? Which of these dreams do I toss?

Some dreams are about how I wanted to decorate our house: plants for our living room and bedroom, the pictures that I wanted on that wall, lamps for that corner…

Other dreams are about the adventures I planned to have: that camping trip, the wadi I couldn’t wait to take our kids to, the retreat I wanted to host for sweet and dear friends, that epic date with my husband…

Yet others have to do with ministry and are harder to give up: passing on a vision for a ministry close to my heart, raising others up more intentionally, those girls that I prayed about discipling…

Additional dreams have been on hold for a long time and I wonder if I will also have to give up entirely: growing roots in one place, having a house for longer than two years, ministering to abused women or writing those books I have outlined on my laptop.

For a recovering perfectionist like me, giving up these dreams feels like leaving a life halfway lived, halfway complete. I have to fight the sense that it feels like I am somehow failing for not accomplishing more.

Maybe you too are full of dreams. Maybe you haven’t been able to pursue them because you, like me, have been learning a new language, settling in a new country, doing visa runs, growing a human inside you, raising littles, homeschooling, church-planting, and loving neighbors right in front of you.

You too feel grief. The grief of giving up plans, desires, dreams that made you come alive.  It is good to face how much we longed for these things, how they invigorated us, how sad we are to give them up.

A song about fools who dream stroke a tender chord in me. Are we just fools for having these dreams?

Hannah Anderson’s book Humble Roots encouraged me as I processed through this. In her chapter Field of Dreams she writes,

“Humility teaches us to embrace desire as a means of learning to submit to God. It is precisely through the process of wanting certain things that we also learn to trust God to fulfill those desires or to trust Him when he changes them. It is precisely through the process of learning to plan that we learn to depend on a God who makes our plans happen… Humility teaches us how powerless we are to make our desires come to fruition. The same God who gives us our desires is the God who orchestrates how, and whether, those desires come to pass.”

Humility enables us to submit to God – to His plans for our dreams. Submission might also mean submitting to the plans God has for us that we wouldn’t have dreamed. For me it was the faith-building season of postpartum darkness; the discipleship opportunities at home with my kids when they struggled to adapt to a new life; growing in my sacrificial love for the church and others; learning what it meant to count others as more significant than myself as I went through culture shock, loss and adapting to a new normal.

When we grieve the loss of dreams, it enables us to surrender. Grieving helps us hold our dreams open handedly to our Father, and with the Spirit of Christ in us, pray, “Abba, my times, my dreams and my desires are in your hands” (Lk. 23: 46 cf. Ps. 31: 5).

Maybe the best fools are those who lay down their dreams with cruciform shaped bravery. They are brave enough to let dreams go and trust God to do whatever He intended. Those fools know their dreams were really never theirs in the first place, but God’s – they were just stewards.

The dreams God gives us as the overflow of the riches of His wisdom are not about us. They are about His glory. His renown. So, we can rejoice – Christ will finish what He started. The dream that fuels all our dreams has been promised to us and to Him: He will be exalted among the nations (Psalm 46: 1-3).

So through the power and life of Jesus in us, we are still, knowing that He is God. Let’s entrust our life, desires and dreams to the One who entrusted Himself to His Father. He conquered death and rose again to a life that is more glorious than any of our wildest dreams…and so will we.

 Do you dwell more in possibility or the here-and-now?


  1. Janis McArthur May 2, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. I liked what you wrote about how humility enables us to submit to God – to His plans for our dreams. God has given me the privilege to serve Him in China teaching English to college students and ministering to them. It was really a dream come true. But after two years, God called me to Laos, a very different country, language, and people. I wasn’t prepared for what was in store for me there and I had a hard time adjusting. After one year, God called me back to the U.S. I was broken physically, emotionally, and spiritually. During my time of recovery, God was showing me that He had not abandoned my dreams. It has now been 5 years since I left Laos and still dreaming of going back to China. Just this past month, I finally was able to totally surrender my dream of China. Now I am seeing that God is giving me a new vision and dream. It may not be returning to China like I had hoped, but He is birthing something new.. It is exciting to see what God has in mind and the freedom to finally say yes to Him whatever that may look like.

    1. Aylin May 3, 2018

      Wow. Your story is incredibly similar to my husband’s!! He lived in China as well teaching college students. The Lord also closed that door for him once he relocated back to the US. It was so hard to give up on that dream but now we are walking in other dreams God had for us….and he is teaching us to love His kingdom and His name….wherever that takes us in the world. Thankful to know you are excited and rejoicing in His will for you!

    2. Kayla May 16, 2018

      Janis– I too have gotten to serve in both China and Laos. Two very different experiences in yet both places capture my heart for unique reasons. I had been asked to return from the field 2 years ago, feeling left in a place of much brokenness and confusion. Still find myself grieving and like I’ve never fully recovered physically– emotionally or spiritually…what has the recovery process looked like for you?? And how did you bring yourself to surrending the dreams to return?? I struggle so hard to be present and find myself often living so checked out in my own culture and in the day to day because of maybe holding onto the hopes that I’ll get to one day return In yet I have zero plans for that or don’t know the avenue or capacity in which that could be. Just know i feel wounded, and stuck in the pace and comforts of america.

  2. Wendy May 4, 2018

    I am always astounded by the way that God reminds me that He is El Roi — the God who sees me. Just the other day I was thinking about places I have lived and how I never saw the fruition of the dreams I dreamed in that place, in that home. I have left some dreams in God’s hands. I have carried some with me to my new home here in Germany. Thank you for writing. It is always good to know that you are not alone. And even better, to know that God sees me and my dreams — and so directed me to your post. So grateful.

  3. Casual Friday Double Dose | Paracletos May 4, 2018

    […] something you’ve never actually had. Aylin Merck knows. And she knows what to do with the various dreams she took with her to the mission field but had to relinquish. Every sent-one deals with this, so pass this along to […]

  4. Carrie May 4, 2018

    I, too, am a dreamer. Having returned to my passport country this past year, it has been a season of grieving dreams that I didn’t get to see come to pass. But God has been gently showing me both how many incredible dreams He did fulfill while I was in Asia, and how He is crafting new dreams ahead. He is good. I am happy to dream again with Him.

  5. M'Lynn May 4, 2018

    “For a recovering perfectionist like me, giving up these dreams feels like leaving a life halfway lived, halfway complete. I have to fight the sense that it feels like I am somehow failing for not accomplishing more.” Thanks for helping me to continue to sort out the Pandora’s box I opened when ai began writing my own post on Dreams… There’s A LOT stuffed in there…

    1. Aylin May 6, 2018

      I am thankful to read this. Thank you for the encouragement. I can’t wait to read yours! Praying for you as unstuff that Pandora’s box. I am sorting out one of my own. Feeling my need of Christ.

  6. Massiel Zapata May 5, 2018

    Thank you for this Aylín, I read “Humble roots” last year and our Heavenly Father taught me a lot through that chapter on dreams. I’d love to read more about you being a “recovering perfectionist”…. I can totally relate. My prayers are with you and your family.

    1. Aylin May 6, 2018

      Massi, gracias por tu estimulo… tu comentario acerca de ser una perfeccionista en recuperacion me anima a comenzar a escribir un poco mas la historia que el Señor ha querido escribir con mi vida en cuanto a esto. Gracias por tus oraciones!!! Te mando un abrazo fuerte y nos vemos en Junio, si Dios quiere. Can’t wait!!!!

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