So, when Jon announced this, the Big Dream challenge for us third timers, I was completely ecstatic about the opportunity. I felt like I was going to be able to sit down and knock out my post in 30 minutes. Well, here it is Sunday, and I’m finally posting my big dream. The problem is, I’m not 100% sure of what it is. Sure, I have a really good idea. In fact, up until a few days ago, I was completely sure I knew what it was. It’s going to take some background in order to get this post across correctly, so bear with me while I explain.
Like many people who follow Jon’s works, I am a Christ follower, most people call us Christians, but sometimes that word gets used too much and I like to change it up to remember what it means. Anyway, I attempt to put my relationship with God at the forefront of my life, followed by my relationship with my wife. For his own reasons, God has blessed me with situations and circumstances beyond my wildest dreams. No, everything is not perfect, I have stuff that I needlessly worry about: mine and my wife’s student loans and other debts being some of them, but God has given me opportunities to further my education, saved mine and my sister’s lives from sickness, and blessed me with a wonderful wife and caring parents.
I am a southerner by birth, raising, and the grace of God. I enjoy the south. Growing up, I never wanted to leave the south. I just enjoy the atmosphere. I like the fact that people will hold doors for you; I like when people say “Hey” as they walk by; I enjoy the family atmosphere that is noticeable in some towns. I’m not on the end of any spectrum of southern, in fact, I lost a lot of my accent during my high school years, I’m just a quiet boy raised in SC. Or, I was. I was a shy boy with a lot of confidence issues while growing up. Partly due a natural conflict avoidance I have, and partly due to the fact that I was overweight most of my life. During the last 12 months, in an attempt to get healthy with my wife, I’ve shed approximately 80 pounds, and my confidence is increasing. I’m seeing this as a good and bad thing. I refuse to be one of those people who was heavy and then gets snobby and arrogant after losing weight, but I also am on a journey to get healthy, stay healthy, and take care of the body that God has given me. About two years ago, I told God that I would go wherever he sent me and my wife joined me in that sentiment. At the time, I thought it would be funny if God sent us out to California, somewhere that I really didn’t want to go. It would be away from my family (we are as dysfunctional as any family, but we are extremely close); it would be away from everything I’ve known.
Another tidbit of information about me is that I am a relatively intelligent software designer. God has given me the ability to know how to design and develop software programs. It is one of the few things that I’ve found in this life that I am uniquely good at and enjoy. I enjoy the problem solving and the creation involved. I’m by no means the best, and I’m still learning. As anyone who may remember my posts from last month will know, I’m in the process of applying to grad school to get a Master’s of Software Engineering, which I will be able to get paid for by my employer. I’m currently paying off a scholarship that I received while completing my undergraduate degree by working at my current job, which has little to do with concrete software development, and I will be able to work off the Master’s program concurrently, so I will only have one or two additional semesters added on to my pay off schedule, which is a blessing.
I’ve said all of this to get to a point: my Big Dream. My biggest passion is using my abilities as a software designer to praise God and help people. There’s so many ways to do this it’s impossible to know, short of God opening the doors that he wants me to go through. However, I am a type A person. I want/need something to work towards. Right now it’s my Master’s, so I’ve got a target, but I can’t seem to get a Big Dream down. Ever since telling God that we would go anywhere, I’ve thought about California because it was such an outrageous idea. Like any software developer, yes, I would love to have an opportunity to work for Google or someone like that. There’s little that I would like more in the world of software development than to work for people that value well-done software and hard work. It would be a great opportunity and completely blow my mind. I’ve also given thought to the other end of the spectrum, starting my own business. Yes, I would love to create my own projects and have them succeed, as I work on doing on the side now, but the more I’ve mulled this idea over in my head, I don’t really have a desire to run a company. To manage the business side of it all. I just want to design and build great software. So now, personal ambition enters the scene, and I can’t separate my desires from God’s desires for my life. I know he will open the door where he chooses, but this is a point of contention that I can’t figure out what my concrete Big Dream is. Abstractly, it is to have a good paying job doing what I love and praising God doing it because it is a talent that he gave me. Concretely, I have no idea.
To wrap this all up, I want to bring this Big Dream post back to its roots, where Jon set us off on this journey. This will not flow as well as above because it’s just going to be a list. Jon said that a Big Dream generally has five factors: a long time frame, an inability to do it alone, a little bit terrifying, multiple types of investment, and sacrifice. I haven’t figured out my concrete Big Dream, but I do have an abstract one. So, I’m going to answer these factors using that.
My (abstract) Big Dream: I want to use the talent that God gave me as a software designer and techie to help people and glorify him in the process.
Time Frame: My whole life (if that isn’t long, I don’t know what is).
Inability to do it alone: I will fall, I will stumble. I will need God to forgive me more times than I can even dream. He will do so because that’s who he is. I will always have my wife and my family by my side in order to inspire me when I can’t go on. I will need other professionals to help guide me in my career, and I will need people to take a chance on this small town southern boy, whether I’m moving out to California or setting up a small business in Greenville.
Terrifying: I’ve always been terrified about messing this whole “life” thing up. That’s not a new one for me. Along this journey, my wife and I plan on having kids, that will bring in a completely new variable into the equation. It is terrifying and humbling to think that the biggest example of who God is in their lives will be me (and my wife of course).
Multiple types of investment: This dream, because it is so abstract, will take every type of investment possible. It will take a time investment, physical investment, emotional investment, and spiritual investment every moment of every day. And should God call me to California or to begin my own business, there will definitely be financial investments.
Sacrifice: This is the most costly factor in this entire dream. I must die to myself, as all Christians are told to do. I must fight the selfish ambitions, the desire for money, the desire for fame. I must sacrifice what I think about me and put what God thinks of me first. If we are to eventually move to California, we would have to sacrifice the immediacy to our family on the east coast, and as I’ve said, my family and I are quite close knit.
So, that’s my Big Dream. It’s been a tale.