How often on Facebook and other social media sites do we come across posts describing ideals and dreams? The tendency to dream is in all of us. We all believe that we are destined to become more. We all dream that one day, in the midst of our normal, lackluster life someone will suddenly notice us for what we truly are: a hidden gem in a pile of rocks. That day our life will change and the fabulous person we know we are will be acknowledged by everyone. Perhaps our dreams do not include glitz and glamour. Perhaps our dreams include our how our humdrum life will suddenly become better, all because of one change: a spouse, weight loss, a new job or talent, new friends, a baby, a new car or house, and the list goes on.
It is okay to dream. Reaching for the stars, imagining that we have a greater and better potential is normal. Psychologists call this inner voice that whispers that we are more than our life the personal fable. They call it the lie we all tell ourselves, our skewed self-view that says we are more, we are headed for greater things, but yet, in reality, we are not. We are nothing more than average boring people dreaming of more. They say as we get older, we acknowledge and accept the reality of average life while some secret part of us still whispers “you are more than this”. Psychologists also claim that depression is just those with a lack of personal fable. They know reality of humdrum, lackluster, average joe life. They do not have that secret whisper of “you are more than this”.
While psychologists reason that whisper away, religion speaks to the opposite. That inner whisper is what drives us to become better and continue on to heaven. That inner voice reminds us of our true heritage, our lineage as children of Heavenly Father. This view point would also state that those with depression that have lost that inner whisper are in need of help and love to regain their desire, to reclaim their heritage.
Dreaming and goals are not a bad thing. Dreaming of more, whether that is a better life, glamour, family, the ideal body, the ideal house or car, and so on is not a bad or silly thing. It is good for us to have goals and aspirations. It is okay for us to dream of non-reachable alternate realities, as long as those non-reachable alternates do not make us sour against the good things in our reality. Goals and aspirations help us grow, to challenge ourselves, to progress. Having these goals and aspirations are good, as long as they do not poison us against the great things in our reality.
Clarity: When I was twenty-three, I moved back in with my parents. I felt like a failure at life. I was starting over at age twenty three. I was rebuilding my life in the negative where most eighteen year olds were at a head start in the same place at ground zero. I daydreamed of a better life. At this time, I dreamed of who I would marry. He would be smart, logical, with an unmatched sense of humor; he would tower above me in stature, making our height difference comically adorable. He would be older than me. He would be motivated, educated, have a good job, and would go to church every Sunday. We would go to the temple together. He would be well read and we would have endless conversations about books. Most importantly, he would despise watching sports. That was my dream.
In my reality, I knew I needed to act appropriately to obtain this ideal man. I knelt and prayed. I informed Heavenly Father that I planned to date. I wanted to date with the purpose of marriage. I also wanted to have rules. I asked what Heavenly Father wanted my dating rules and restrictions to be. Then I waited. I expected a long list of rules such as keeping feet on the ground, no kissing, don’t date anyone whose birthday is in the fall, etc. To my surprise, I only was given one rule: Only seriously date someone who attends the temple regularly. I could do that, after all, I went to the temple regularly. It was decided, and my dating life began.
I went on dates with many wonderful guys; guys I just clicked with. After a few dates, I would tell them of my intended trip to the temple in the upcoming week. They would squirm and shift uncomfortably. I knew from comments they made (more often than not, they would just come out and tell me: I can’t go to the temple) that they were not who I was intended to date seriously. I told them my rule. They would make non-committal comments about someday getting to that point. As fond of them as I was, I knew that Heavenly Father had not said: If they say someday that maybe they’ll get to that point, well then that’s okay. He only said currently regularly attending the temple. I sadly accepted this and moved on.
I went on dates with other guys; guys who had either told me that they were attending the temple or others had informed me. There wasn’t as much attraction and chemistry as with the others. Both were genuinely good guys, but with the second kinds, I just wasn’t seeing a future. I remember going on a date with a young man that resembled one Matt Damon. He was a BYU graduate with a good job. He was polite, treated me well, and attended the temple weekly. On my date with him, I could only see us being friends, and it depressed me. How could this perfect guy not THE guy?
I was stuck at that moment. My choices were to abandon my rule and accept a guy who was not currently attending the temple or resign myself to be with someone I wasn’t one hundred percent attracted to. I felt like giving up on the whole institution altogether. Heavenly Father had other plans. After an up and down friendship and courtship, I met and married my husband. He is taller than me. He is not older than me. He is smart and logical with a good sense of humor. He has read books, but isn’t a book-a-holic like I am. He was still in school when we dated and into part of our marriage. He is a hard worker and has always strived to support our family. He loves sports and watches any and all sporting events on TV (even bowling and golf). He is not who I dreamed of in my “personal fable” but he is better than that guy. He challenges me and our differences keep life interesting.
The point of this long story isn’t to say: dreaming is nonsense and wrong. The point is to show that it is okay to dream, to have goals, but be realistic. In our lofty dreams and personal fable, we should compare notes with Heavenly Father who has a specific plan for us (with better details). By comparing our fable to His plan, we can have a happier and more successful life.