Confess Your Dreams to Each Other

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There’s a Christian tradition of confessing your sins to someone else as a step toward freedom. We may quote James saying, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:16, NIV.

By keeping our struggles, flaws, and imperfections secret, we leave ourselves vulnerable to their attacks, the shame they generate, and the feeling that we’re inevitable failures in spirituality. I know all of this from repeated experience.

It’s hard to confess to someone else. The times I’ve stepped forward to receive prayer from someone have been agonizing. Perhaps we fear judgment or being exposed as frauds. Perhaps we fear that the prayers of the person we approach won’t help. If there’s a chance that the prayers offered won’t help, then why risk exposing ourselves?

Vulnerability feels like we’re going to trap ourselves, but more often than not, it’s quite liberating. I find that hard to believe most weeks.

I’m a begrudging believer in confessing sins to a trusted friend or mentor, but I also believe in confessing our dreams.

Aside from our flaws, I believe our hopes, callings, and dreams may be the most fragile parts of ourselves. We don’t want to appear foolish, stupid, or ridiculous. We don’t want to set out for a valiant goal only to fall on our faces. Who wants to set out in pursuit of something that carries significant personal meaning and then fail publicly and dramatically?

Mind you, a dream or goal or hope isn’t necessarily virtuous in and of itself. However, before we can even discern this, many of us will suppress these notions before they get out of hand and people find out about them.

I have gone back and forth on this stuff plenty of times. I remember sharing an idea for a book one time in a group of friends and a stone cold silence followed. Someone may have said, “Hmmmm.”

Needless to say, I never touched that idea again.

I’m learning how to manage “confessing” these ideas and dreams and callings a bit. For instance, I’ve learned that the place to start with confessing my dreams is a few trusted people. I’ll tell my wife and then follow up with an email to a few trusted friends and experts to sound things out.

Last year I bought domain name and built an entire website. I felt like I just needed to do it in order to have the experience of building a more static website from the ground up regardless of whether or not I used it. I ran the idea past some trusted people. Many gave it a thumbs up, but a few shared some reservations. Perhaps there were already websites that covered this topic. Perhaps it wouldn’t catch on as I hoped. I asked for prayer. I prayed a lot.

I followed up the feedback and discernment process with some tests on social media. I shared posts and updated related to my new website’s topic.

Silence. Zip. Nada.

I decided to scrap the idea. I’m not sure if it wasn’t my thing to do or if my approach wasn’t the most effective way forward, but I’m pretty sure it was a combination of both.

I’ve been sitting and waiting on what’s next. I wrapped up my book Write without Crushing Your Soul this past fall and have been mentally divided between three book ideas that I can’t quite choose between.

Just as the domain name for last year’s website experiment expired, a new idea popped into my mind. Once again I tested it with my wife and then, before I could talk myself out of it, I zipped off some texts and emails to friends.

I confessed that I needed them to be in the loop right from the start. I told them that I needed them to know about this idea before I bailed. Sure enough, they were encouraging, while I spent the following day picking apart all of the reasons why this website is a terrible idea.

However, once I got over the fear of launching a new website and received some helpful feedback, I started to take tentative steps forward.

This project feels big and intimidating enough that I have to trust in God’s help to make it happen. It’s true to my experiences and, dare I say, “journey” in spirituality. It’s about something that I keep asking God, “Are you sure I should do this?” And I keep getting affirmations in return.

Today I’m plugging along with this new project, and I can’t believe that I ever doubted it or needed to tell someone before I preemptively gave up on it. But the truth is that I needed my friends’ accountability. I needed them to know that at one point in time I had thought this was a good idea, and I needed their honest feedback right then and there before I blew the whole thing up.

Accountability is good for uncovering our faults and struggles, but it’s also good for keeping us pointed to our true north. Accountability helps us put both hands on a crazy idea that just may come from God and to hold onto it through the storms of doubt, exhaustion, and fear.

Confess your hopes and dreams to one another so that you may discern God’s direction. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective

12 thoughts on “Confess Your Dreams to Each Other

  1. Excellent! I have never heard this verse addressed in this relevant way that is true to Scripture. Genuineness, authenticity, vulnerability, and accountability are desperately needed in the church but human nature is prone to being fake in order to hide who we really are. I’m praying that churches will become environments where people can be real and not be judged.

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    1. Yes, I agree, we desperately need truth and authenticity. We deceive ourselves when we think we will feel secure in hiding. And if we want people to come to know Jesus through us, we had better be living out truth and not judging when people show their own true colours. I have Casting Crowns’ “Stained Glass Masquerade” in my head now. 🙂

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  2. Thank you, thank you for this. I have been having awfully exciting yet intimidating dreams in the last few months, it seems like the first time in a decade at least. I build on them in my head almost every day. Yet I have hardly done a thing about them concretely. Yeah, I’ve done a bit of praying, and I feel that these dreams are truly inspired. Yet they feel so far away and unattainable. I feel I have so much work to do on my self, building up my knowledge and skills, before I can begin to tackle them. I am afraid that I will either embarrass myself or overstep where I’m “supposed” to be (if that makes sense). I have told one person about my vague but real dreams and aspirations. It was most discouraging to me to find they thought it was highly improbable that I would ever accomplish them, that it was a bit crazy to begin with, and that they thought it would mean I would be neglecting what was more important in my life. Sadly this is a person I should be able to count on for encouragement. But I know where I will place my loyalty and trust and will not give up. It is time for me to seek authentic and affirming friends to confess my dreams to. Blessings to you and may all your dreams be fulfilled.

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    1. Erica, I’ve had many times of this too, God-given dreams which seem impossible, that I could never have the skills to fulfill, but God equips us as we step out in faith, as we walk through the dreams. Making concrete steps along the path towards them can be God’s way to grow us in new directions, to teach us to rely only on God, not our own strengths and abilities. Yes, friends should be supportive in such things, but they aren’t always in tune with what God is speaking into your heard. It can be a tricky balance being vulnerable and authentic, while still keeping confidence and motivation.

      Ed, thanks for this, an great way to look at the authenticity and vulnerability of confessing to one another, not just our negatives, but our hopes and dreams too, something I very much struggle with, but God has been challenging me on recently.

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  3. YES!!! Yes. Yes. Yes. I have found that this is so important, and whatever it is you are doing I am super excited about it, because I trust your process. My sisters are often my dream holders. For me and my giant mouth (and personality) I have learned to tell less people. It is just better that way.

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  4. Thank you for this. I love your take on sharing our dreams and not just our sins. I love how positive that is. Right now I’m not sure what my dreams are, though I’d like to publish more books but maybe not have to pay to do it. I had a couple close writing friend who I could talk about this stuff too, well, she wandered off and it’s been a big loss (long story having to do with her toxic therapist as much anything). I’ve not found anyone to replace her and have felt that loss deeply.

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      1. Thank you so much. I hope so too…I miss my friend. I’m needing to settle down to the next project. Talking to a writer/teacher friend on Messenger yesterday got me thinking of how to handle my material…I need to thank him for that minute of his time.

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  5. Surrounding ourselves with people who care about our soul, will help open the doors to the beauty and creativity God wants to express. It will also help to have people pray for protection as we proceed in our endeavor. The enemy of our soul will always be around causing us to second guess, compare, demean, find other things to do instead of finish a good project. Confessing one’s dreams allows us to actually put teeth on our thoughts. Once it is out there, there is no turning back. 🙂

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