“You don’t have to tell everything you know.”
My mother often said those words to me when I was younger. Like a lot of little kids, what popped into my head often spilled out of my mouth. I wanted so much to be part of adult conversations that I practically made a study of them. I listened to adults talking and noted their topics, and whenever I heard a tidbit that sounded like something that might interest them, I purposed to tell it the next opportunity I had.
“Jenny’s dad makes $50,000 a year.”
“I told Sonya you were getting a divorce.”
“Nicki’s family is really poor.”
I think my mother realized I was turning into a terrible gossip, and she wanted to deter that trait early. Unfortunately, gossip is a temptation at any age. There’s a fine line between relaying information about someone’s misfortunes (perhaps for the sake of prayer, etc.) and totally getting your jollies from telling someone's sad tale.
However, it wasn’t until I started telling others about my aspirations and dreams that my mother’s warning took on a different meaning.
“I’m going to be an actress when I grow up.”
“You can’t be an actress. You don’t have blue eyes. Everyone in Hollywood has blue eyes.”
That was the first time someone shot down a dream of mine. I was in the fourth grade, and my best friend at the time crushed all my aspirations with one comment. That was it. My future career was over before it began. No matter what, I would never have blue eyes. Blonde hair? Yes, I could make that happen—and maybe even a new nose or chin—but my eye color would not change. (In truth, she probably did me a favor. I would have been a terrible actress).
This same type of dream slaying happened many times in my life. When I confided to a friend about a guy I liked in high school, she said, “Well, you know that’s just a dream, right? You’d be at the bottom of his list. He goes out with girls like Tammy Jenkins.” Totally deflated, I agreed with her. “Yeah. I know. He’d never be interested in me.”
I’ve since learned to be more selective about the goals and plans I share with others. Some people don’t dream very big, and when they encounter people who do, they immediately take it upon themselves to send in a verbal missile to level any grand ideas the dreamer might dare to build. I am especially tight-lipped if I feel the dream is a God-given one. Mention God, vision, or calling and it’s like issuing an invitation for a reality check from well-meaning, but possibly embittered, naysayers. If God gave me the dream, then it’s up to Him to figure out how it’s all going to play out. It’s between us, and I don’t need to tell anyone about it.
Protecting our heart and dreams can be like internal warfare. We have to fight off the dream slayers, the naysayers, and the vision bombers. Sometimes this can be accomplished simply by not opening our mouths. I think the old adage, “Loose lips sink ships” applies here. Some dreams, goals, aspirations are best kept like top secret information—stored on a private, heavenly server and dispensed on a need-to-know basis only.