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Be A Dreamer

“Cynicism is the worst quality a person can have. “

I heard that quote for the first time from Conan O’Brien (the sage himself), on the last episode of “The Conan O’Brien Show” he was being cut, because Jay Leno wanted to come back, and his humor ended up being more niche than mainstream. TBS ended up keeping him on air as a late night host, but he expressed this sentiment when his future was still up in the air. He said he could’ve been cynical, but it was his absolute least favorite quality a person could have.

In case you don’t know what cynicism is, it is a “general distrust of other people’s motives.” You don’t trust. You expect the worst in people. When someone does something nice or courageous, you think they did it for selfish reasons, and judge them.

Unfortunately, when I was in college, I think I fell into a cynical personality a lot. I loved my friends, but when we were together, we ended up being very cynical. And that was never the person I was. My mom used to call me, “the eternal optimist” because the glass was always half full. As I graduated and moved to the next stage of life, this cynicism has been peeling off over the past four years. I think I am finally back to a place where when those thoughts come up, I shove them away as not my own. It’s very freeing.

Through this process I have discovered something else. I love dreamers. I love entrepreneurs, and people who think outside of the box. People who think with a little hard work and a lot of determination, they can get done whatever they want. I’m a dreamer. I legitimately believe that if I started practicing golf now, and really set my mind to it, I could play professionally. Is that true? Probably, definitely, not. But, even so my heart says yes.

Why is this? Is it a case of nature vs. nurture? Are some people just born more optimistic and “dreamy” than others? Perhaps. But I think it’s something more. We’re about to dive into James-ology, which is pretty much just whatever conclusions I’ve come to about the human psyche based off personal experience.

I think people are driven by two main things: fear and hope (or dreams). And you can picture it actually as a glass, of oil and water, all the way full. We are all some percentage combination (which can never be precise) of fear and hope, which are driving are decisions.

I have a suspicion that this may be similar to Jon Acuff (I really need to read his books, Jon if you’re reading this, please send them to me for free), because I know his phrase “punch fear in the face.” What a great line.

Where are you on the spectrum? What is it in your heart of hearts, that you want to do? What is holding you back? Is it fear? Of money, shame, opinions? When you look back on your life do you want to see years stuck where you are because of fear?

One of the many beautiful things about Jesus, is that He has no time for fear in his followers. When he talks to the Rich Young Ruler who can’t leave his possessions, he’s sad. I think he’s sad because he knows this man is being held back by fear. Fear to lose something that is seemingly filled with value keeps him from following his dream. It is his dream isn’t it—why would he be asking questions about being in Heaven otherwise? He is dreaming of a perfect place where he can know his God intimately. But fear keeps him from realizing that that dream doesn’t have to be upon death—he could have it immediately! Instead, he goes away sad.

You may not be rich, and you may not have the opportunity to walk around physically with Jesus (definitely not the second one), but what is it you dream of? Can you define it? What’s holding you back?

I’ve started thinking differently about my career. Not just am I a director of College Ministry. I want it to be part of my job to help people achieve their dreams. I’m not sure what it looks like yet, and hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more about it soon. But I think a huge part is simple. Asking questions, and helping college students figure out what is it that they are passionate about– what gives them “life” and from there encouraging them to pursue that. In one of my favorite books, “Freshman” one of the main characters is talking about his father. He is rich, and powerful, and sad. He says a line that has stuck with me, “He figured out too late that there was a difference between a good resume and a good life.” Don’t fall into the enemy’s trap of fear, and don’t live your life for a resume or other people’s expectations of you. Do what you are called to do. What you dream about. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

 

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James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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