As I have been recognizing the amount of time that I spend thinking about what I don’t have, I’ve noticed something else that gets in my way of fully engaging in today…my imagination.
Let me clarify, there are two sides to imagination, there is the gift of imagination that spurs creativity, inspiration, discernment, wisdom, revelation, insight, compassion and dreams. This imagination causes me to reach higher, set goals, put myself in the shoes of others, it cause me to build up, it’s outcome is joy.
But there is also a side to imagination that works destruction in my life, it tears me down and wrecks my faith. It’s this imagination that I’ve been thinking about lately.
I’ve had to remind myself my imagination is fiction – it is not my reality. Yet, I often base my real feelings of who God is, and His faithfulness, His goodness, His love on my imagination and subsequent expectation.
This imagination can be about who I am as well. I decide if I’m good or bad, doing well or failing, I build myself up or beat myself down based on what I imagine being a good person or a good Christian looks like. I imagine myself to be less than what God declares me to be, or I imagine myself to be deserving of more or different than what He has deemed best for me. Then, I base the measure of my faith, my trust and my confidence in how and when I imagine God should be fulfilling His promises.I come to trust that imagination and give it value, it becomes a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit, which is Truth, purely and wholly.
Lately, I’ve been reminded of dreams that I’ve had for my life. My seventeen-year-old dream for my future was college, career, marriage, family. My dreams at 22, 23 and every year after that – imagining that each was the best year for me to fall in love and get married, that each year held promise of wealth and “ministry” or fame, I imagined countless ways to “bless” others, to show my value, to see my value, to believe my value. I imagined conversations that never happened, I imagined conversations that did happen and all the ways they could have gone better. I imagined countless scenarios based on my fears of how one’s action may impact their own life and the lives of those that love them. I imagined things in people’s hearts and imagined that I knew what was best for their life.
My imagination has caused me to worry, to fret, to fear, to judge, to criticize, to slander, to accuse, to hope falsely, to speak out of time, to doubt in God’s care of me, to beg and plead for solutions that would be a flash in the pan – short-lived and of no consequence. My imagination has gotten in the way of my growth, of my faith, of my hope. It has caused my eyes to see dimly and has blocked my ears from hearing that which would be true and pure and right – that which I could firmly plant my feet on. It has caused me to live so much of my life in a fictitious future instead of a full, and beautiful, glory-filled today. My imagination has caused me to lean upon my own understanding – plotting routes through an alternate world when before me has always been a humble, narrow path that leads to a small gate, opening to a world so far beyond what I could ever, really, imagine. Why is it that we so often trust our reasoning, fictional, self-based logic so much more than God’s constant, unchanging, rock solid, proven Word?
In it all I see those stories, those futures, those pictures that have filled my head, fed my fears, and consumed my time….none of them have come to pass. What has really come to pass in my life has been drastically different. It has truly been far outside of what my mind could have ever thought to dream up. It has far exceeded my highest hope. I have been given what I couldn’t have even known to pray for. Despite my imagination, I’ve known with the deepest part of me, that God’s ways are higher than my ways, I know nothing and He knows everything. What I see and feel is untrustworthy and He is steadfast. In that, He gives me the ability to push aside my imagination and to see the truth, to love it, to pursue it, and to hold on to it regardless of what storms surround me. In His love, He always gives me a passageway to freedom, and those paths have never looked like my imagination.
I’m learning to let go of tomorrow. God has good plans for me, He knows what my dreams are, He knows what brings me joy, He knows what I need to overcome, He knows what He planted in me before I was ever born, He knows what I need, what I hope for, and how He is going to bring it about. My imagination is only getting in the way, giving me unnecessary pain, causing me to feel entitled, trying to ebb away at my faith and diminish my trust. It is keeping me from seeing today what He has for me, it is keeping me from hearing the still small voice that says, “This is the way; walk in it.”