God Dreams with Us, Not for Us

DSC03070One of the traps that we can fall into when we’re trying to discern something is to think that God has one precise and perfect way picked out for us, and woe to us if we take a wrong step. We mix up God’s knowledge of the future with God’s will, imagining that God already wrote the complete story of our lives, and that we really don’t have free will. That’s a pretty robotic view of human nature, and it’s far from the Church’s teaching about the human person. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers: 1704, 1705, 1711, 1731, among many others.)

1. God doesn’t abandon us if we don’t pursue his dream for us—he always loves us and continues to invite us towards a closer relationship with him, up to the last moments of our lives.

2. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and God is all-wise, so whatever God wants is a perfect fit for us. His dream for us is exactly what we want at our deepest core, we just don’t always know it.

3. God’s dream for us isn’t created apart from us. It might be more accurate to say that God dreams with us, not for us. With the Holy Spirit, we are co-protagonists in the story of our lives.

4. God values our free will so much that he invites us (not forces us) into a loving relationship with him. Similarly, he invites us to enter into his dream for us. We choose how we respond to God’s invitations. God respects our freedom, and is more than willing to work with whatever steps we take, especially when we are sincerely seeking his will for us. Even when our steps seem to be going in the opposite direction, God is able to turn things around in the blink of an eye. The cliché “God writes straight with crooked lines” totally fits here—although it’s not complete. It’s even more than that! God seems to delight in working with our littleness, even with our limitations.

(We have a powerful reminder of this as we approach Christmas: God delights so much in working with human littleness that, when he took on human nature, he was born a little Baby.)

God Has a Dream for You

Not sure where the path is leading...

Not sure where the path is leading…

After I entered religious life, I was almost immediately assigned to proofreading as a way of taking part in the Pauline mission.* Already a bookworm, I loved it there because I got to read almost half of the new books that our sisters published that year. And I became a pretty good proofreader, too. It seemed the perfect fit.

About two years later, I was assigned to the newly developing Pauline Video studio. I was flabbergasted. Why would anyone in their right mind take me away from books and throw me into a department that required talent in visual arts and a combination of skills that I knew I didn’t have: creativity, technical skills, and an ability to design? As I struggled with the new assignment, one of the sisters told me, “God knows us better than we know ourselves. You wait and see: God will show you why you’ve been sent there.”

It took me a number of years to figure out what a marvelous gift God gave me in transferring me to the video studio. Working in a small studio where everyone has to help out in many areas—out of sheer necessity—stretched me to develop talents I’d had no idea I had. And it also gave me many opportunities to write. Although I’d never thought about writing a script before, it became my favorite form to write in. Sometimes God’s co-authorship gives our stories a plot turn that we do not expect!

Over the years, I have learned to trust that God always has a reason for leading us—God wants to lead us closer to himself, and closer to the fulfillment of God’s dream for us.

And God’s dream for us is better than we could ever possibly imagine!

*The Daughters of Saint Paul have the mission of communicating Christ through their lives and all forms of media.