The Art of Daydreaming

Ever catch someone daydreaming?  This is the uncomfortable moment when the teacher calls on the student and he can only give a blank stare in response to the question.  When you are having a conversation with someone and you need to give them a little snap back to reality.  Or when the person sitting next to you on the subway is staring into oblivion, then jumping to their feet only to realize (all too late) that their stop has already passed.

I just came to a new understanding of this phenomenon while reading the book “Love God With All Your Mind” by J.P. Moreland.  You see, daydreaming is all well and good if confined to private moments when no one is around.  Yet our reaction can range from annoyance to hysterics when people around us are daydreaming.  What does this all mean?  And how are we to respond?

For starters, a human being is a composition of two distinct realities working together: the body and the soul.  The body is material, physical.  It is the part of us that utilizes all five senses.  The body places demands on us such as sleep, and it delivers messages to us, whether pleasure or pain.  In contrast, the soul is immaterial and transcendent.  This part cannot be seen nor observed under a microscope.  It is not bound by time (progressively speaking).  Consequently, when the body dies I, as a person, live on because I am my soul.  In theological language, this complex understanding of a person’s existence (body + soul) is known as “substance dualism.”

On to our primary focus: Daydreaming is that curious state of existence in which my physical eyeballs are functioning yet my soul is inattentive to that reality which is before it.  I could be standing in front of the stove cooking eggs while my thoughts take me to London.  Until I move too close to the frying pan and my chemical receptors signal the warning ”AHH!  HOT!  YOU ARE BURNING YOUR HAND YOU FOOL!” my soul is withdrawn to a distant place or memory.  It takes that physical response to draw me back.  And surely we have all experienced one of these moments.

When I consider this interaction and the implications thereof, daydreaming is an absolutely wonderful thing!  It is – if I may be so bold as to make this claim – one of our nearest ways to experience heaven on earth because the soul is active apart from the body.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  Heaven is an exclusive place.  Only one who believes in Jesus Christ may truly enter heaven, though isn’t it interesting that even a non-believer may have a taste of this existence through daydreaming.  God has revealed Himself to creation in natural ways.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)  So maybe He designed us humans in such a way that we can all foreknow an existence apart from the body and anticipate heaven.  Maybe daydreaming is a tool He uses to point us towards the divine existence that is Himself.  And maybe in daydreaming we are not merely spacing out, but we are engaging an opportunity to worship.

Daydreaming certainly has its time and place.  It may not be the most appropriate course of action in the classroom, in conversation, or five minutes after the subway car has braked at your destination, but under the proper circumstances it needs to be encouraged!  And whatever magnificent places your daydreaming takes you, remember the glorious destination of which the soul has yet to go.


I Thought I Knew What I Wanted…

Here we are at the beginning of June, which means two wonderful things for a teacher: (1) the end of the school year and, consequently, (2) the beginning of summer!  I always have difficulty processing emotions and dealing with change at a time of transition such as this.  However, as I reflect on the year past and where I am now, I am very excited for this season of life.

The past nine months did not turn out like anything I had expected or desired.  If I had things my own way, right now I would be a youth pastor at a small but growing congregation, living in a town home, dating a lovely woman and anticipating marriage in the near future.  Needless to say, life does not operate by Burger King’s motto and none of my previous held dreams have been fulfilled.

So I don’t preach; I teach.  I still have opportunities to share the gospel to teenagers, I still develop curriculum, and I am surrounded by a phenomenal staff including many pastors from the adjoining church.  I don’t rent or own a home; I still live at home, thereby becoming reacquainted with my hometown and re-experiencing the love of two selfless parents.  I am not dating nor even remotely close to marriage.  In fact, a developing friendship, thought soon-to-be-relationship fell apart just two days ago.  Instead, I discovered more about myself and what I desire in a relationship.  I witnessed a close friend get married, supported a friend in a difficult time in his marriage, and built new, surprisingly strong bonds of friendship with other men in my age bracket.  First things first, God has drawn me nearer to Himself and added some tools to my toolkit, the seeds of which will flourish someday when I actually do prepare for marriage.  I have found delight in dancing, solutions to ongoing health problems, and a revitalization in self-confidence.

One year ago, I never sought or expected to seek these things.  Now I count each and every one of them a blessing.  I am grateful that my life and career took a divergent path.  I have emerged from yet another school year but this time feels different.  It is not only because I sit on the other side of the desk – now being the teacher instead of the student – but for the first time in probably three or four years I have hit the summer months and felt  an overwhelming sense of joy.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my college years, yet for inexplicable reasons each time June arrived the negatives always outweighed the positives.  Now I feel very optimistic and can celebrate what God has accomplished in my life.

I thought I knew what I wanted, but “the heart is deceitful above all things.” (Jeremiah 17:9)  Some requests were sinful, some were selfish, and some would have just led me on an alternative path that would be less satisfying than what I have now.  God knew what I wanted better than I did and He gave me the true desires of my heart.

With that knowledge in mind, what an exciting summer lies ahead!