Our dreams are to be the dreams God gives us, those that will make us our true self, not the self we imagine, but the self He created us to be. The common practical advice that “you should live your life and not some else’s life” is true, but not in the way most people mean it. No cult leader, no guru, no parent can determine the course of a human life. No human being should try. And yet I am a human too, as fallible as the rest of humanity.
I do not know anymore about the pattern of my life than any other human. In fact, my blindness toward myself can be greater than that of others towards me. Knowing myself, the Socratic job for all people, is hard, at least as hard as knowing other people. I am overwhelmed by the immediate emotions, thoughts, and feelings that make up any given moment of being me.
The tyranny of a false self is worse than the tyranny of others, because more seductive and harder to escape.
I cannot step outside myself to see myself, so often my dreams are a composite of my culture, ads I have watched, crankiness from lack of sleep, and whatever the last television show on which I binged. The real me is often buried under the slew of commercials, stereotypes imposed on me, and education I have received, but removing those external factors is often easier than taming the passions that prevent my truest self, my best self, from becoming real.What is natural to me is not always what is best for me or according to God’s perfect will, so I must accept my condition, report on it honestly, and then submit to the will of God.
If my dreams are based on my desires, then I had better hope my desires have been purified, because it is rare for a person to want what they should want. I want to eat more than I should, drink more than I should, make love more than I should. The easy solution, denying all my passions as wicked, is too easy. Some of what I wish to eat, I should eat, some drink must be drunk, some love should be made if only for the continuance of the race!
How can I know? It is here that divine revelation steps in to fill the gap and where we must never develop a hermeneutic to twist that revelation to fit the desires of our age. Left to myself, I am unlikely to dream of loving my enemies, so Jesus commands me to do so. Left to myself, chastity will seem like mere torment, so God commands me to be chaste. Left to myself, I am more likely to be glutton than stingy with my food, so I need the command to moderation.
What happens when I am moderate? If I indulge my erotic self, by looking at porn for example, I change. I satisfy one desire at the expense of another. There is no chastity in a soul with inflamed eros, just as there is too little love in a soul that suppresses all expressions of eros. When I follow God’s command and keep myself pure, then I change and my desires begin to change. Increased innocence does not produce perfection, but it does move me toward a better place.
My dreams, the wish my heart makes, will become different as I mold myself in conformity to my best self and not my worst.
I can dream based on who I wish to be from where I am now or I can dream based on who I wish to be from where I would be in a perfect world. Having a desire does not make it “my” desire, it may be the product of the chemicals in the water, the culture, or my upbringing. I must learn who I am in God (best me) and that is much harder than ignoring my desires or acting on them.
Justification by rationalization is the easy antidote of youngsters pretending death will never come with choice of glorification or damnation of my soul.
This is no simple solution to deep problems. All of us are broken, nobody is perfect, not one of us. This side of death and glorification I must be content with a pilgrim’s progress, but that progress is possible. Self-indulgence will turn me into the image of sinner: look at Vegas lounge lizard and you will see types. Stinginess or prudery will turn me to the image of a sinner: look at the sameness of the Scrooge. Abandoning my mind, soul, or will to a guru or cult will turn me to the image of a sinner: all cultists look alike.
Only in holiness, setting apart my deep desires to God, can I become myself, because then my truest desires are allowed to surface. I am no longer driven by external demands, but can be myself. Sadly, of course, this too is not enough. Though only heroic virtue gets even this far, a silent soul discovers that he wishes to be is impossible for him. He cannot heal his soul, it is too damaged by the world, the flesh, and the damage. We all come to healing far too late.
We must be born again to have any hope, but that is another story.