Dreaming big when you’re a broke 24 year old

Rob and I fell so in love with the location of our recent family vacation that we wanted it to be a permanent part of our life. I’m talking full denial of our financial standing, looking at houses for at least an hour on Zillow, doing the (bad) math in our head about what we would need to have a house there.

Of course, this isn’t something we can do now – own a second home – but it was something that set our collective souls on fire. We were fully charmed, and taken by a feeling I think we have both forgotten… dreaming big.

I have been listening to “Girl Wash your Face” by Rachel Hollis. In her book she talks about printing out her long-term goals and hanging visual reminders on her closet door. When I first heard this I thought “yeah, well of course this rich lady who has made it big is going to have big dreams.”

I thought to myself “if I printed out my dream it would be my bank statement with a better looking savings account photo shopped in.” And that depressed me. I felt as if my current circumstances fences my goals inward toward things like extra money and blocked my view for goals beyond that horizon.

This sentiment, and my experience with Rob on vacation made me really think about dreaming big and why it felt out of reach for so long.

I am afraid of disappointment. I always have been. It has made me an eternal optimist. My mom tells the story of me as a little girl looking out the window at torrential rain and asking if there was still a chance of going to the park.

As I lived into the first months of post-college adult life, the not-so-dreamy parts left me feeling jaded.  For me the election of Donald Trump was the first blow to the fairy tale I ignorantly lived in. Then, two months after our wedding Rob and I went through public job loss, and as Rob started and continues to work in public theology we’ve experienced death threats, nasty PR battles, the loss of friends, and nights where I didn’t know how we would make it out.

We fell into some type of despair, just trying to survive the uncertainty. I felt like adulthood was this big, cruel joke. I felt like any dream I had was impractical and inconceivable when the news, job search and bank account were all looking dismal.

And, I think of the fact that we are the lucky ones because ICE or travel bans don’t threaten our family, and we aren’t scared of being stopped by police. We have a roof over our heads and food in our fridge. I’m humbled, sickened, and slapped with reality.

How dare we think of life the way we do when we have so much to be thankful for, and we have opportunities to dream big not only for ourselves, but for others who are experiencing what we are (the paycheck to paycheck pinch) and for those whose pain we cannot imagine.

We all deserve to dream big. And, Rob and I are learning how to do that with grateful and humble hearts. To encourage us all, I want to share some words of wisdom spoken to us (and the rest of the congregation) on our wedding day. “Risk and hope” is what we should cling to when facing life together. We must hold these two in tension even when hoping is risky. And for me, the risk of disappointment has been looming too large for too long.

To start us off, here are my personal dreams, the ones I will print off and tape to my closet.

  • Grow Beloved Ministries into a source of community support and outreach
  • Fiscally responsible savings account (of course)
  • Open my own store
  • Get my master’s degree
  • Write a book