I love the first day of a new month. To me, it feels like a fresh start with new possibilities, like a mini-New Year’s Day or the start of a school year. I particularly enjoy changing the calendars around the house. I can’t wait to see what image or phrase accompanies the turn of the calendar. This July, I flipped the page to find the words “Let your dreams come true” in red, white, and blue script. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I realized that this was not normally the way I’m used to hearing this encouragement about dreams. Usually, the saying is “make your dreams come true.” The difference in the wording struck a chord with me.
The emphasis on “making” one’s dreams come true focuses on the person’s actions. “Letting” one’s dreams come true changes the focus to allowing dreams to materialize. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in working hard to achieve goals. Discipline, practice, and consistent effort are essential to accomplishing anything. But sometimes, even when we want to make things happen in our lives, we end up sabotaging ourselves. The relentless pursuit of our objectives may produce anxiety that can grow out of control. We may allow fear of failure to consciously or unconsciously undermine our efforts. We may be haunted by the feeling that we are not good enough or suffer from imposter syndrome. If our work doesn’t produce the exact results we want, we may feel so disappointed that we can’t see another way forward. We close ourselves off to expanding our vision of the future. And the self-doubts are amplified if we think that our dream is a calling from God.
In Moses’ story in the Old Testament, God beckoned Moses into conversation initially through the sight of the burning bush. God told Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Moses had plenty of doubts about his abilities. Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God replied, “I will be with you” in order to reassure Moses. But Moses had more questions and said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God gave Moses a lengthy answer about what Moses should say to the elders of Israel to convince them that Moses was called to lead. And in response, Moses said, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Once again God gave Moses a long answer and showed him physical signs that he could perform to convince people.
Moses himself wasn’t convinced, however, and protested further. “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent . . . I am slow of speech and tongue.” God said, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” “But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.’” The extent to which Moses tried to block God’s instructions because of his own insecurities is almost comical. He might as well have taken the stance of a toddler who crossed his arms, stomped his foot, and said, “I don’t want to!” Exodus 3-4.
I relate to Moses’ reactions and find them quite comforting. He was unsure and full of doubt. He questioned his competence and qualifications. If left to his own devices, Moses would have refused to act at all. Even when God encouraged and supported him, Moses didn’t think he could do it. Like Moses, our doubts may play on a constant loop in our heads. Our negative thoughts can close us off to our dreams and God’s dreams for us.
Moses had to get out of his own way in order to let God’s dreams for Moses and the people of Israel come to fruition. If we believe in the possibilities instead of our doubts, we can make space to let our dreams come true, especially those dreams that come from God. God believed in Moses, and God believes in us too.