By Dr. Dan Reinhardt

My granddaughter stumped me the other day with a simple question, “Who are you?” Well, that was pretty obvious — “I’m your grandpa,” I said. But when she asked the same question again, I realized she was inviting me to join her in an imaginary game. We would both pretend to be someone, and then play. Seeing I was stumped, she suggested I could be Robin Hood, and she Lady Marion. It came as a bit of a jolt that I was not very good at this kind of thinking, while she did it intuitively.

Children instinctively dream.

They have the gift of imagination in spades. Boys often dream of being firemen, pirates or soldiers; girls are moms, nurses and teachers. They live in their make-believe worlds for hours, enjoying a fascinating interplay between the ‘real’ world and imagination. They see beyond the obvious, the ‘real.’ A cardboard box is a car zooming around the race track; the little plastic plates and bowls are a banquet, the dolls are friends at a party. And notice how much fun they’re having!

By midlife we’ve lost much of this ability. 

Living out our childhood dreams proved to be more difficult than we had imagined. The challenge of the ‘real world’ has pounded the joy and imagination out of us. Instinctive dreaming has been:

  • Buried by busyness – no time to dream; you have endless important things to do
  • Paralyzed by failure – perhaps you tried some things, and they failed, knocking the wind out of you
  • Bruised by tragedy – life delivers some very hard blows, things you never anticipated
  • Starved for lack of hope – dreams fade when you never seem to get anywhere with them
  • Lost by constantly adapting – you have to adjust to circumstances, the requirements of the job, the expectations of people around you; meanwhile your dream languishes.


I find myself at midlife wondering … and yearning to dream again. Especially when I see my grand kids having so much fun. Adult life seems to be more duty than play, more about responsibility than having fun. I want in on the fun.

You have to dream again at midlife, but this time with more depth; you’re done with firemen and dolls. The dreams you had as a child and even as a young adult no longer hold the same attraction. Dreams changed because you changed. You’ve done the career, you’ve experienced your first dreams. Now you need a fresh vision, one that connects deeply with your heart. You’ve lived too long out of duty; it’s time to live from the heart.

This dreaming requires a different kind of seeing. You have to reach back into your childhood and re-engage this gift of seeing beyond the obvious, of engaging a bigger story. Not a make-believe story of Robin Hood and Lady Marion, but the real story — the Kingdom of God.

Within the Kingdom of God, the ‘ordinary’ activities of your life take on larger meaning. You begin to live in the wonder and excitement of seeing your smaller story as part of God’s grand epic. If you really ‘get it’ you enjoy a fascinating interplay between the ordinary world and this larger adventure of God. The two worlds overlap, and you experience the mystery of God’s kingdom intersecting with the physical world; of his will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Who would have thought:

  • Pretending as children prepared us to dream at midlife?
  • Playful imagination was practice for seeing with eyes of faith?
  • The Interplay between the real and imaginary foreshadowed the integration of two worlds?


And wow, is this fun!

Helping people dream again at midlife is one of the core elements of the CREST Leadership program. Join us for a transformational journey at midlife.