Dreams change. Through high school, I used to dream about the Cleveland Indians or Browns winning a championship (remember, nothing is impossible with God). I dreamed the cute girl I had a crush on from my class would notice me. I dreamed of pitching in the Major Leagues, though having a 40 mph fastball and a non-moving breaking ball made that a little doubtful.
Now, though, I dream about my little girl growing up faithful to God. I dream about becoming a better husband to my wife. I dream about reaching Heaven to be embraced by Christ. Ok, and I still occasionally dream about the Indians or Browns winning a championship.
But there was a span between my high school years and when I started maturing in my faith where my dreams were inappropriate and misguided. I do not necessarily mean 'dirty', but they were not what they should be. For example, at one point or another, the “woman of my dreams”:
• had a 'great' body
• was willing to do whatever I asked in order to make me happy
• would respect my 'freedom' to do as I wished
In my defense, my intentions were to do the same things for her. That is what the world told me love was: I use you to be happy, and you use me. But each time I thought I had found the “woman of my dreams”, those dreams turned to nightmares, and I could not understand why until I was exposed to Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB). It showed me that the expectations I had of the “woman of my dreams” were actually devilish seeds that bloomed into the nightmares some of my relationships had become. TOB showed me a better dream, a dream first dreamt by Adam.
After creating Adam, God said “It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a helper like himself.” (Genesis 2:18) So God created all the creatures of the earth and had Adam look for his helper among them. But “for Adam there was not found a helper like himself.” (Genesis 2:20) Why did God do this? By comparing himself to all of the other animals, Adam realized his relationship with God was special. Adam's self-awareness and ability to love showed he was unique among all earth's creatures. At the same time, God created Adam with a desire to love and be loved by one like himself, to make a gift of himself to another and to receive the other's gift of themselves in return. The problem is, there was no 'other' like him, until:
“...the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam.” - Genesis 2:21-22
“...there is no doubt that man falls into this 'torpor' (the deep sleep) with the desire of finding a being similar to himself.” (TOB 8:3)
I now realize one of the reasons so many relationships end badly is that the dream they want to come true is not the one they should be dreaming. Their current dreams are focused more on getting what they want instead of being a gift to someone else.
This was true for me, but there was (and is) good news. Christ came to help us dream as we ought and to help them come true. He came to free us from our sins and calls us to purity and true love. THIS IS REAL! It requires our cooperation with God's will. It requires our time and energy for prayer and study. It requires a desire to be changed. It requires the perseverance to get back up when we get knocked down. It requires a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of another. And though I did not do it perfectly, I allowed God to slowly change my dream. Eventually, I met my future wife, and instead of dreaming about getting something from her, I dreamed about giving her my all, and my dream came true December 4, 2010 with the simple words “I do”.
Dreams change, but if you allow it, God will help change them for the good, and will then give you something even better than a dream.
- Dennis Erford