Daydreaming Question

As I was scrolling through the last Q&A, I noticed this question:

I daydream almost 24/7. Made-up scenarios are always running through my head. Is this a bad thing? Am I making an idol of them? How do I know when my thoughts are harmful?

This is something that I have consistently struggled with, and it was shocking and encouraging to see that several others have the same concern. On some days, I find myself spending more time in a fictional world than I do in the real one. One of my most constant prayers has been to fall in love with reality and that I would love it exponentially more than I do the fantasies I create.

The human imagination is a wonderful gift from God, and Jesus himself frequently used parables to explain his points. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien placed Christian morals in their novels which exposed many people to the love of Christ who may have otherwise been opposed to hearing the message. There are many great and powerful uses of imagination; however, I am aware that the level of emphasis I have placed on it is harmful rather than helpful.

How do I work towards removing this idol from my life? How do I use my imagination in a way that is glorifying to God rather than vying for His attention? How do I love God, the ultimate reality, more than I love the cheap imitations I create?

I have not seen much discussion on this topic, so I wanted to pose it here as well as the broader question of the Christian viewpoint on fiction writing and escapism. If anyone is struggling with this, please feel free to direct message me. I would love to discuss it in more detail.

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Hi Ashley,

This is an interesting question. I’ve never thought of daydreaming as an idol but I suppose anything can become an idol if it is left unchecked. One thought might be to journal or write down what you’re daydreaming about. Is it typically a repeated daydream or do they vary? This may provide insight as to how helpful or harmful your daydreams can be.

Perhaps your daydreams can lead you to think deeply about a topic or question that could unveil some aspect of God and His nature. However, if you notice a theme in your daydreams that you can recognize as harmful then you can pray that God will help you remove that specific thought or daydream.

It is indeed a beautiful thing that God has given us the ability to imagine. It has led to countless inventions, books and revelations. So if you are able, through God’s grace to direct your daydreams in those directions it may very well benefit the Kingdom of God.

I hope that helps.

God bless.

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Ashley, thank you for posting this question and sharing your struggles. I can completely relate. I used to daydream constantly. I felt like it was a sin, but I couldn’t seem to stop, and I felt so defeated. I wish I could tell you how I worked through the struggle in my personal life, but I can’t remember. I just know it’s mostly gone.

First, I want to affirm your statement that the human imagination is a wonderful gift from God. Amen, amen! God gave you this gift, and I know He has great plans for how He wants to use it. Thank Him for it.

I eventually realized my daydreaming helped my spiritual growth. As I learned about virtues like love and patience, I naturally incorporated them into my daydreams. Then I learned from my daydreams how God wanted me to act it real life.

At other times, though, I daydreamed about things I desired that I might never have. That’s when it became detrimental. Sometimes it helped to talk to God about those daydreams, opening my heart to Him about my deep longings.

I love your question about how to use your imagination to glorify God. That is the right direction to go. Trying to shut off your imagination won’t work. Have you asked God how He wants you to use the incredible imagination He has given you? Are you interested in writing or other artistic endeavors?

I’m also grateful for your question about learning to love God more than other things. This is an area where we all need to grow – you’re not alone. Are there any sections of the Bible that you particularly enjoy? Taking time to enjoy God every day is one of the best steps we can take as we strive to grow in love.

If we only do Bible study to learn about doctrines or find commands to obey, we’re doomed. We need to spend time enjoying our Father and relishing the creativity and beauty in His Word. As we do this, our love will grow, and that growth brings joy to God’s heart.

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Great topic, @Ashley_Barnett

I’m guessing the daydreaming you mean is taking place during free time - not when you’re concentrating on work or interacting with other people. If your thoughts are running away while someone’s trying to talk to you, then that really is a problem!

But assuming that the daydreaming is when your mind isn’t preoccupied with anything else, then I’d say that daydreaming is, in a sense, rehearsing for life.

We’ve heard how top athletes will think through a sports move - they’ll practice it in their mind in order to improve their game.

Well, daydreaming is something like that. You hear about a situation, and you run through in your own mind what you’d do in the same circumstance - or, at least, what you hope you’d do.

And, sometimes, the daydreams may take fantastic twists - but that’s nothing more than “sprinkling sugar” over the plot. It’s making allowance for the sense that this world is a duller reflection of a greater, more fantastic story that we’re really a part of.

Sometimes people will say that the Bible is a fairytale. They mean that to criticize the Bible. But I would say that it rather exalts fairytales! The “gospel glimmers” hiding inside fairytales are what their beauty, wonder and mystery are spun from.

In Ravi’s book, Can Man Live Without God, is a chapter called, The Romance of Enchantment. In it, he explores the elements of fairytales - which are powerful folk parables of a super reality beyond this one.

Ravi writes, “In Beauty and the Beast, the moral is that you have to love something before it is loveable; in Cinderella, it is the exaltation of the humble; in Sleeping Beauty, it is that one can be blessed with all that life offers yet still be cursed with the reality of death, and that death itself can be softened to the effect of a sleep, ultimately vanquished by truth.”

Jim Ware’s book, God of the Fairy Tale, encourages us to see such stories through “Christ-colored glasses.”

Fairytales endure because gospel elements are woven throughout them: our longings all come true; we frogs become princes; our rags of sin become robes of glory; big, bad wolves land in the boiling cauldron; miracles happen!

A cunning evil seduces the gullible princess into biting the cursed fruit – but death isn’t the end of the story. Remind you of anything in Eden?

A handsome prince slays the dragon and raises his true love with a kiss – like those asleep in Christ at His coming.

The Ugly Duckling is despised because the other ducks don’t recognize his true nature. But the duckling with no form nor comeliness to be desired ends up being full of grace. Sound like Anyone you know?

Cinderella, the rightful heiress, sees her father’s estate highjacked by an evil step-mother (as Adam’s world is stolen by Satan); she’s an oppressed serf in her own home (as Satan tyrannizes us now); her nobility is hidden by rags of bondage (as sin mars God’s image in us). But she becomes the Princess Bride at last!

I would call all of this, The Gospel According to Cinderella!

“Once Upon a Time” tales touch us on a primal level. They stir something deep that wishes the tale would come true – highlighting that this world, our lives, how things are isn’t how they should be. Every fairytale reveals an evil afoot that must be overcome.

And the youngest, littlest, most awkward underdog often emerges the hero: Clumsy Wart pulls the sword from the stone; David slays the giant; Frodo destroys Sauron; a Nazarene Carpenter defeats Satan.

These tall tales tackle Biblical questions.

Where do we come from? We look insignificant now, but some Wonderful Beings know the secret – we’re really children of a great King temporarily under a curse – they follow his orders to guard us from a sinister enemy!

Why are we here? To slay the dragon, break the curse, rescue the damsel, save the world!

How should we live? Pursuing the quest; obeying the King, Sage or Wise Woman; courageous despite the ogres; wielding the supernatural gifts bestowed for epic moments.

Where are we going? To live happily ever after!

What’s the setting? A dark and stormy night when mystical creatures, good and evil, roam the world’s Enchanted Forests (our fallen creation). But the curse can always be broken, and that’s the fairytale’s great quest.

What’s the plot? A fair damsel foolishly touches a spindle, opens a forbidden door, a locked box, bites a poisoned apple – somehow violates a warning (remember Eve?) – she’s imprisoned by the dragon, sleeps 100 years, or otherwise suffers the wages of sin – until the handsome Prince in shining armor on a white horse slays the dragon, breaks the curse, marries the maiden, and they live “happily ever after.”

C. S. Lewis called fairytales, “good dreams that God sent the human race.” And in the end, Christ makes all good dreams come true!

So I say, dream on, @Ashley_Barnett!

But…just do it constructively. And not on the job. Or while others are talking!

I hope this helps.

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As you noted in your post “The human imagination is a wonderful gift from God.” And like all gifts of God, we are able to misuse them . perhaps this is at the heart of your concern. How, why, and what are questions we need to ask about them. For many children, imagination is part of the “learning by playing” process. This is usually normal and good. It might also develop into a defence mechanism, as in when it becomes an escape from pain or emotional suffering. In such cases, it’s a signal that something is wrong and needs healing. Sometimes it can develop into unhealthy thought patterns, maybe about getting revenge, or fulfilling some inward envy and covetousness, or satisfying any variety of lust.

One place where it can be very useful, even “profitable” is in meditating on the Scriptures. One needs some kind of reality-based information about history, geography (i.e. where something happened), political, economic, religious and social conditions. But once these things are available to your mind, being able to imagine / daydream (realistically) the context and what is going on and providing the setting of a passage of Scripture, can be wonderfully helpful in finding deeper meaning in the passage.

The most significant difference between Eastern and Christian meditation is that the objective of Eastern meditation is to empty the mind, while Christian meditation focuses on filling it, particularly with Christ. All scripture points us in some way to Christ. Unless you use your imagination, finding out how is very difficult in some passages. Before you start pray that the Holy Spirit will guide your imagination - your day dreaming - in a positive and constructive way to learn more about the Lord Jesus.

"I daydream almost 24/7. Made-up scenarios are always running through my head. Is this a bad thing? Am I making an idol of them? How do I know when my thoughts are harmful? "

Hi Ashley, & God Bless you for your thoughtful faith based query .

Your question immediately brought to my mind a passage I had just read in the last couple of days in which God speaking through Paul instructs us in this very topic concern how to use our thoughts & imaginations within the will of the Father.
How wonderful it is for the Holy Ghost to be interacting with us in this way !

    " Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true ,
      whatsoever things are honest,
      whatsoever things are just,
      whatsoever things are pure,
      whatsoever things are lovely,
       whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue,
      and if there be any praise , 
      Think on these things ."
                                             (  Philippians 4:8 )

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