Today I am feeling especially nostalgic. I’ll admit it—I’m a very nostalgic person. I have every birthday card and letter I’ve ever received since I was in elementary school stored in various Keds shoeboxes in my closet. But today: July 7th, 2016, is a special day. Exactly one year ago today, my life changed.
I know that sounds like a dramatic thing to say, and maybe it is, but I can say with all sincerity that today is an important day, because today marks one year since I attended an event that shaped me more than any other event in this stage of my life. One year ago today I attended a Mat Kearney and Judah and the Lion concert in Cleveland, and for the first time in my life, I experienced the true changing power that music had. As I sat there at the concert, listening to the music and tapping my foot like I had some kind of nervous twitch, I was filled with joy and exhilaration like I’d never experienced before. Witnessing the creativity, being part of the audience, funnily enough, had a profound impact on me. That concert, I later would realize, would be one of the most important moments of my life.
That concert left me hopeful, excited, and more aware than ever about the inspiration that music could provide, of the ways creativity could cultivate hope and help us discover things about ourselves, the world, and God that we previous never recognized. The concert left me feeling both happy and sad, because I knew that that particular moment wouldn’t and couldn’t last forever. But in that same evening, I realized that that particular paradox is a magnificent and humbling place to settle; sometimes the temporality of life has a way of magnifying the beauty of the present. This was a lesson I was just beginning to uncover, a lesson that would influence the outcome of my senior year of college and my life in innumerable ways.
That concert inspired a thought, a plan, an initiative, a partnership…It humbled me, it challenged me, it taught me more life lessons that I ever thought were possible to learn in just nine months.
Attending that Mat Kearney and Judah and the Lion concert on July 7th, 2015 was a turning point for me, a moment that I realized a seed-of-a-dream was inside of me and was begging to be planted. That concert inspired a thought, and that thought became a plan to bring more experiences like it to the college community I was a part of. The plan became an initiative called “#DreamsGoLive” to be started at my college, a project focused on using collaboration to cultivate a spirit of appreciation for creativity and music in our community. This movement brought about partnerships that I never otherwise would have been a part of; it humbled me, it challenged me, it taught me more life lessons that I ever thought were possible to learn in just nine months. Through that initiative, I gained a sister, was introduced to a hero, attended the best concert I’ve ever been to, and was allowed the chance to interact with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Attending that concert last summer and then being inspired to start #DreamsGoLive was the best thing I have ever done.
July 7th, 2015 changed my life because it set in motion a year-long process of being shown time and time again that dreams and hopes and talents and gifts are not things to disregard, label as unreliable, or dismiss as a waste of time. Like anything that is worth something in this life, pursuing a dream is full of difficulties and barriers, frustrations that can stand in the way and tire you out, tempt you to quit. Collateral damage is bound to ensue when you’re trying to follow a dream: insults, disrespect, tears, discouragement, lack of resources, apathy, sleepless nights, lonely days, and the list goes on. So why go on?
This year I have learned firsthand that while it can be true that sometimes people don’t care, sometimes they don’t want to believe or love or cultivate dreams, something important happens when we take time to believe and practice the idea that our hopes and talents and gifts are not a waste. Sometimes the “something important” is that the other people become witnesses of our dreams and are inspired to follow their own dream, they’re motivated to keep persevering, or they’re reinvigorated for the journey at hand. But sometimes that something important does not require, result, or gather an audience’s attention, and a different outcome occurs. With this type of pursuit, simply choosing to be loyal to a dream causes something to happen inside that is important and so influential that a few months after it begins, you realize that God has done it again—He’s gone and changed your life for the better in a way you never imagined.
July 7th, 2015 set in motion a year-long process of being shown time and time again that dreams and hopes and talents and gifts are not things to disregard, label as unreliable, or dismiss as a waste of time.
One year later, on the anniversary of the dream—the “something important” that is sticking with me today is the realization that I don’t just love the dream of “#DreamsGoLive,” I love dreams, period. I love dreams. I come alive in dreams. I love how dreams are universal, how children and teenagers and moms and dads and grandpas and grandmas all have dreams. I love hearing the eagerness in someone’s voice when they’re talking about what gets them excited. I love witnessing the motivation and determination they adopt as the pursue a big goal. I love seeing the smile that spreads across their face when you affirm the hard work they have done to get to where they are now. I love helping people find the inspiration to use their talents. I love mapping out the exciting journey one takes as they pursue something they thought they’d never get the chance to. I love being part of something bigger. I love dreams, and even more than that, I come alive in them, I want to fight for them, I believe in the importance of them.
So while some days I’m still very unsure about what my actual dreams are post-college, and what my “calling” is, and what I’m supposed to be doing, I know that “dreams” will always be a part of my life. What will that look like? I’m not sure. But I am sure of this: beauty and truth abound in all spheres of life much more than our human eyes can see, much more than our ears can hear. One year later, I’ve witnessed how God can use dreams, talents, music, art, food, sports, interests, hobbies—anything and everything—to spread his beauty and truth in settings where they are needed.
One year later, on this nostalgic day, I am excited to realize that there are so many more dreams to be had, more tasks to carry out, more moments of beauty to behold. There are dreams being planted right now inside of you, inside of me. And sooner or later, they will take root. And when they do, I hope you’re ready, I hope I’m ready—because once they do, things will change forever. Now that’s exciting…