Have you ever taken notice of the people who are the most creative thinkers in every generation? What is at the core of their great creativity or their great philosophical insight? Over my life, I’ve become convinced that brokenness and wounds that we accumulate through life either create the most despicable spiritual being or they can transform into our greatest expressions of desire for life, meaning, and connection with God.
There are many people in life we would call “stereotypical”, “boring”, “plain”, “average”, or “lacking in the creativity department”. If we had the gumption to ask these individuals how they view themselves, most likely we would find a person who is either living in complete denial of their own brokenness, or they are just too apathetic to let the brokenness drive them to dream.
Broken people dream of a life beyond the current moment.
Broken people want something more than the here and now.
In high school, off and on through college, and after graduation I’ve worked in numerous retail, food-service, and even corporate settings where I learned the art of connecting with a diverse variety of people. The most unique of these experiences came when I moved back from Los Angeles to Charlotte after failing at a dream.
And I did what every aspiring film actor does: I got a job at Starbucks.
Make what you will of your image of a Starbucks barista, but it can be a life-changing job. I worked at Starbucks from 2008 – 2011 and during that time I made new friends, met my current employer, and even met my wife while serving her a chai latte. Love at first chai.
Through the many human connections that I had serving coffee and interacting with a variety of people, I further solidified a disturbing belief that I’ve always deep-down-inside know to be true. And that belief is this: the more successful in life a person is by standards of wealth, power, and fame, the more susceptible that person is to becoming self-sufficient, arrogant, and creatively stagnant.
Who dreams and attempts to create something new and beautiful when all day long they are trying to hold onto something they already have? This could be money, a respected job title, a powerful position, fame, wealth, or another false means of satisfying our longing for purpose.
Arguably one of the most philosophical bands the past decade has been Switchfoot, led by front man Jon Foreman. Their songs are filled with thoughts on God, meaning, existence, broken dreams, and living life the way it was originally intended.
In their song “The Setting Sun”, Jon Foreman leads off saying, “I’ve got a wound that doesn’t heal, burning out again burning out again/I’m not sure which of me is real. I’m alone again, burning out again”. Jon Foreman – his journey with Jesus at the core of his music – continues on later in the song saying, “My hope runs underneath it all the day that I’ll be home/It won’t be long, I belong somewhere past this setting sun/finally free, finally strong, somewhere back where I belong.”
Hope is one of the most creative forces in the universe.
Hope gives us vision beyond what we see in our lives and in our world at our present moment.
Hope creates. Hope dreams. Hope is authentic artistry.
And yet, why do I meet so many people who profess to follow Jesus who live average, boring, and apathetic lives? Why do these individuals choose to live their lives for what comes easily instead of pursuing the God-given dreams that can only be reached through God coming through on their behalf?
I’ve asked these questions for years as I have fought my own battle between the average and the impossible in my life. I’m a contradiction. Some days I’m pursuing my dreams with a passion and other days I can’t take one more step in fear that failure will find me once again. So I stay with what’s comfortable; I stay with a life that impacts no one.
As I’m writing this, Oscar Pistorius was just on TV running in the 2012 London Olympics. I don’t know much about Oscar, but he has already inspired me beyond any other Olympian this year. If you’re not following this story yourself, you need to just as a reminder of what true dreams look like. The man is running in the Olympics without his own legs! And yet, some of you would say, “I can’t…because…” Oscar appears to have the opposing view of “I can’t…but I will…”
What if we all dreamed as big, worked as hard, and created a new story with such vision and hope?
If we truly are created in the image of God, the original and greatest Creator, we can no longer live without true creativity in our relationships, our work, our art, and our dreams. If apathy and the ordinary are you comforts, I challenge you to start asking yourself tough questions about where you are and where you want to be. Talk with God about where you’ve lost hope and where you need healing.
This is an ongoing conversation and it’s best served when being honest with God and honest with those close to you. A cup of coffee, a listening ear, and a heart that wants to dream is a great start.