19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
It was one of those balmy, African days, turned into one of those crisp, forgiving evenings. The one where the cooling breeze licks in through the window, and your body opens up wide, like a chicken, lifting her wings, reaching for ventilation. Relief from the heat.
Sean and I reclined in our armless plastic dinner-table chairs, legs stretched all out. Bellies all full from a meal of garden-carrot soup (who eats soup in 100 degree weather?!) and homemade focaccia cooked on the stove top. Another cooling wisp of air trickles in, and our voices fade out, so every part of us can silently, still-ly soak up this moment. Revel in this goodness.
Arms stretching back over his chair, head tilted upwards, Sean’s pleasure-filled moan roars, “Ahhhh! We are living our dream.”
I look up at the ceiling, noting the hexagonal pattern the wire under the thatch has created. Then I see the thatch. The grass. The roof that’s grass. The grass roof. And realize. This is our dream.
Literally. To live in a grass (or mud) hut. Sure these walls are made of concrete block, but there’s no mistaking the roof is of grass.
Seven years ago. Seven years. That Sean and I sat in the Student Center at Harding, and I heard him say, “Yay, I wanna live in a grass hut, someplace simple, where life is simple.” And I remember thinking Wait a second. That’s MY dream. IIII dream* of that.
When the breeze picked up again, a bit stronger, fuller this time, we continued talking, listing the dreams we’re living.
“Ya. Live in a grass hut. Have a dog. Marry my best friend. Learn another language. Live overseas. Live intentionally in a community. Get land.”
“Sheesh! What else is there in life?”
I, Nicole, really believe that something supernatural happened in our lives. I see that years ago, when we were brave enough to dream, bold enough to declare, and cocky enough to proceed, God wrote something on our hearts. He wrote about a life that would be spent pursuing the coming of His Kingdom. It’s a coming that first manifests itself in our own hearts, and then, if we’re lucky, probably right before we die, it’ll spill over onto at least one other person. But years ago, when we started to lean into God, to wonder about His world, to marvel in His creation, to become unhappy with how people were treated, to see a creative path towards redemption, and be crazy enough to dream of us being a part. When we started to lean into God, we began leaning into our True Selves. Because if Christ is incarnated in me, then the more I come to know “myself”, the more I’m really coming to know God, who lives in me. Yet, I’m not that God, I’m no where close, but like the good things my parents instilled in me, this knowledge of Who I Am resides deep within my core, my inner being. If only I’m quiet, still, brave, open, and committed enough to see it.
And in those moments of tapping in, God drew me a dream. (Conveniently, he drew a similar one for Sean.) In too many moments, when I lost myself, lost God, lost hope, became distracted, took side-roads, became self-obsessed, or simply tired, this dream continued to lap at my heart, entice me, welcome me, call to me.
This dream rooted me in who I wanted to be. Who I was. When I was “too young” or “too silly” (as many mature adults told me), I knew in the deepest place of my heart, the type of woman I wanted to be. Bathing in an inch of cold water, cooking over an open fire, purchasing my groceries in a foreign language, pouring myself out, living deeply from my heart. All these things I imagined spoke of a woman who wasn’t too high maintenance, who wasn’t held back by the rules and restrictions she allowed society to put on her, and who stayed tapped into her Heart, into God, well into her 30s and 40s and 80s. I imagined a woman who grew in wisdom and grace, but never lost her wide eyes, and her wishing heart, and her open spirit. The one that people told me “Oh you’ll grow out of that.” or “Sure, but once you graduate college, it’ll be the real world, and it’s shocking.” Or “Oh yah, wait til you get married, then everything will change” (said in a negative slant), or “Yah, I used to think I’d save the world too…” but their tone suggested they gave up on that dream long ago.
Well, long ago, I decided to not give up. To not give in really. To not allow other people’s broken dreams, lost selves, and disconnections with their hearts to scare me into submission. At times, I’ve given in. I’ve let go of my dream and spiraled into dark places. But much of my heart stands in a place that invites creativity, union with God, hope, determination, Real and True Life, joy, and strength to sit still in the darkness.
And for those of you, who still recall your dream. Who still remember the things God whispered to you in the dark. The stories you wanted to write that now seem too wild, too far, too much, too little, or just too different than where you are now. For those of you, I commend you, your heart is still intact. You can still recall, remember. So rejoice. And start moving confidently in the direction of your dreams.
*Let it be made clear. I see that my heart can only be found by seeing God. In order to “know” myself, I have to seek myself out in God. Who am I created to be? What are my gifts? weaknesses? abilities? inclinations? and passions? How have I been wired to uniquely bring His Kingdom here on this Earth? By drawing deep into these questions, I find myself, God, and my purpose made clear. Because the very of nature of God is selfless, I see the dreams and directions He has for me are selfless as well. This is no American Dream we’re called to. I will not become rich, famous, revered, or respected by many people. Such is not a road we’re called to.