There is this perfume, Madagascar Vanilla, that I bought right before New Year’s in South Africa. Today I put it on again and while everyone else tells me it smells like Oreos, to me it smells like something entirely different.
It smells like cuddling in a sleeping bag with your closest friends in frozen Nepal, or like holding children who have never been shown love before, it smells like late night worship in Thailand and catching subways in Singapore.
It smells, to me, like living.
And as I put it on this morning all of those memories came rushing back like a freight train, staggering me where I stood. It awakened something in me that had begun to slumber.
There is something about the comfortable life of America that is like quicksand, pulling you under into complacency before you even knew what happened.
Why did my dreams feel so much bigger when I was living abroad?
Maybe it was the rice and beans that I ate everyday, or the squatty potties and all the critters that came with it. Maybe it was the refreshing bucket showers or the adventures of public transportation. Maybe it was because everyday was so unpredictable, the day could lead you to a trash heap or an orphanage or a hospital, but I never seemed to live the same day twice.
When I sleep in a bed that is entirely too big for a single girl, or when I get to have a whole bathroom all to myself. When I can indulge in any food under the sun and when it’s a challenge to find a place without internet. When I start to forget what a cockroach look like or drive a reliable car where everyone predictably follows traffic laws. When I’m comfortable, that’s when my heart is the least at peace.
It screams to be noticed above the distractions, above Facebook, TV shows, movies, cookies and brownies, above iPhones and Pinterest. It’s screaming for me to live.
These distractions are just not cutting it and the longer I find myself swimming in comfort the harder it is to hear my heart.
But today, with the scent of Madagascar Vanilla, I was awakened again.
Recently I went to a concert where a fantastic musician, Aaron Wardle, sang a bit of his most intimate thoughts,
Well I’ve been afraid to dream, for fear they won’t come true, and people will laugh at me.
So I locked my heart away.
When he sang that I wanted to stand up and scream, “I understand Aaron, I feel the same way!” I think we all do.
You see I have this crazy idea that we all have dreams. Big dreams and little dreams, dreams of writing, singing, teaching, speaking, preaching, leading, dancing, mothering, acting… you name it. But the thing about dreams is that they’re real and scary.
I have this theory about dreams, I believe that they are unique as a fingerprint and that they were planted by God. I think dreams represent a projection of the soul unto the world. Kind of like what our souls would look like if they had clothes. I think our dreams is our soul’s way of affecting the world in the way that only it can.
So naturally dreams are intimate and vulnerable.
And if you speak them out, it kind of feels like you are naked in a crowd. After you do, you hope that no one heard you, because what if it doesn’t happen? What if your dream doesn’t come true, won’t it look like you are kind of broken and don’t really fit in this world?
But what if your dreams do happen. Can you imagine the impact you would have, the love you could bring, the lives that would be changed.
You see I have a lot of fears of failing, of looking like a fool, or appearing just plain stupid. But my biggest fear is that I would settle for a life that doesn’t do much of anything, of living a life without passion.
I have a dream that I can change the world, that through my writing men, women and children will believe in God-given dreams. I have a dream that everyone’s can dream come true, that everyone will step into their destiny and love fully. That this world will come alive in the color of people no longer afraid to live.
That’s a pretty big dream, a colossal dream, because people are afraid of so many things. And people are always telling other people that their dreams are unrealistic, too hard, too many obstacles.
So people lock their hearts away, trying to ignore the beckoning to something greater.
And that makes me sad, because people have beautiful dreams and if people were courageous enough to live them out this world would be so much more beautiful.
There would be obstacles, difficulties, failures along the way, but if they persevered their dream would be all the more beautiful for it.
I truly believe that, so that is why I am chasing my God-given dream. That is why I write, that is why I dream up ways to rescue women from trafficking, because I believe that it’s worth it.
No matter what happens, God gave me this dream and I believe he wants it to come true even more than I do. Because he gave it to me.
So now that I am awake, now that I can hear my heart clearly again, I vow to no longer lock my heart or my dream away.
And if I can do it, you can too.