There are things I’m called to do, and then there are things I dream of doing. Sometimes they are the same things, and sometimes they are not. I dream of owning a chocolate shop. I dream of being a real-life Juliette Binoche in Chocolat and wearing 1950s style dresses while I make chocolate in my southern bakery. By the ocean. In perpetual daylight. But this will never happen because I am neither administratively gifted nor am I culinarily inclined. And also, the sun won’t cooperate. I don’t want the benefits of the chocolate shop enough to outweigh the risk and the trouble.

Writing books was a dream once. Actually, I’m not even sure I went as far as books, I just wanted to write stories. When I was younger, I would sit on my bed and make up stories until midnight with characters who had magic or tragedy or convoluted relationships. I filled spiral notebooks with penciled scribbles and wrote a thousand rough drafts all laced with a dream. There wasn’t any pressure, worry, or expectation. I wrote when I wanted and enjoyed the process. It was fun. It was a dream.

I am called to be a mom. Not just any mom, but the mom to three specific people. Ten years ago, that calling was a dream. Sometimes a calling starts out as a dream, but not always. I am called to be a small group leader to a group of 10 girls at my church. I never dreamed of being a small group leader, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it. I simply trust that this is where I am to be serving right now.

The word ‘calling’ might have a lot of religious undertones and in a way I’m sorry for that, but I just can’t think of a better word. But if there is a call to something, then someone has to make the call. And someone else has to answer it. I believe my husband was called into ministry to become a pastor, but I also believe a calling to become an accountant or an actress is just as legitimate. But what about those things we dream of doing, those faraway longings we think about when we dare to let ourselves imagine impossible things? Are those things we are to pursue? Or are they simply a bunch of imaginary chocolate shops?

As I’ve been writing about art for the past few months, I have wondered about this. I am strongly compelled to call people out of their hiding places, out from behind the fear. But how can we know the difference between no and not yet? Here’s one thing I know for sure: God calls all people to pursue their unique gifts, to discover the ways He wants to influence the world through them, to leave a trail of beauty.

Maybe a calling is simply a dream with legs. I’ve written more on this topic that I will post tomorrow, but for now I want to ask you: Do you believe there is a difference between a dream and a calling?