A dreamer without a dream: teetering between cultural and true identity

There was a time in my life when I had many dreams about the future. I was young(er) and more optimistic about what life will bring in the mystery of the unknown. Moving to a new country as a teenager was beyond thrilling for me especially that I was going to be free! I really thought that when I identify myself as Christian, I would no longer be looked down upon or given a dirty look or be discriminated against at school. Much of this was true in this land of the free, but that’s not the whole story…with more “freedom” comes more responsibility…and choice becomes the biggest sucker of time, money, effort, and thought. I suddenly found myself bearing the burdens of choice without guidance, choice without time, choice without vision, and choice without knowing that I needed to choose!

At first, I had dreams, but these dreams where based on how I saw the world through naive eyes. Then, reality hit…and this reality was beyond what I had imagined or expected. My family lost family members, we lost jobs, we lost culture, and we most of all lost identity.  The problem is if identity wasn’t rooted in a solid ground, nationality or cultural identification become trivial when diluted into what seemed like the unending changes/excitements/trends of a new culture.

What was this reality that hit? This was the reality of growing up with choice without knowing how to choose. In a country such as my home country, where choices are usually made for people like my family who had little to no freedom, we had to live thankful for the fact that we lived another day and we have food at the table. This is not to say that there were not people who had a different lifestyle, but I am speaking from the perspective of how I was raised.

To learn as a young teenage that I was about to go to a place where I could choose my future was the seed that gave birth to my dreams. For a long time, I dreamt to be an actress and that dream died fairly quickly after my father insisted against it. I am thankful that he did that, because I honestly don’t know how my life would have turned out had I pursued this route. The point is, I had dreams, possibly childish dreams but they kept me going. The dreams were hopes of a different future and a different life; a better life somehow. I didn’t exactly know how, but I knew that I wanted something different and something better.

Reality said no. The world said no. Everyone said no. Dare I say, God said no. Dreams of an unreality are just that: dreams. They are not real and they are not based on practical steps; they are a chase after the wind. They are almost like imaginations of someone who wants to remodel a leased apartment. Why would you want to spend money and effort on a leased apartment when you are most likely going to move out in less than a year (or two, three years at the most). Why? This would be a waste.

Yet, having no dreams leaves a person with a certain amount of emptiness. What do you work for now that you lost your dreams? Why do you choose to keep going? What is the point of your life? This is why I said earlier that if identity is not rooted in a solid ground, losing your dreams (your culture, your country, your people, or whatever you lose…) might mean that you lose your identity. Who are you at the core? Where is your treasure, your most prized possession?

For the secular world, I honestly don’t know the answer to these questions, but they maybe a house or a family, a job or a promotion, a certain lifestyle or a certain position, freedom from oppression or freedom from poverty somehow. For the religious world in its vast diversity, there are vastly diverse answers. For Christianity, who we are as people is at the core of the faith. We are the created beings made on the image and likeness of God. We are living and breathing because He provided this breath for us. Who we are as children of God defines everything that we think about, everything that we do, and everything that we want to do. The hope of the future for us lies in the person of Jesus Christ and who we are in Him, as His creatures whom He loves. Our treasure is in Him. With the core belief that He made us and planned our salvation long ago, we cannot (are not able to, really) define our identity as anything but as children of God.

If we see ourselves truly as the children of God, then He is our father. If we can observe human fathers care for their children with such depth of love and protection, how can we possibly imagine that the One who made us and called us His children would care for us any less? Our futures are in His hands. He provides for us what we need to eat, to breath, to live, and to love Him. He provides the tools for us to aspire to a higher calling – precisely to accept being called His children and to live accordingly with an understanding of our fallen human nature and its weaknesses. Since He is the King of kings, we are all the sons and daughters of the King. We are all royalty. We are all with a firm identity in Our Father and Our King.

If I wanted to define who I am by saying “Egyptian American” that would be trivial. What is the benefit in claiming such an identity? Do I gain anything by being American? Do I gain anything by being Egyptian? No. Does it matter within which culture I fit the most? No. Does it matter that I have more choices now because of the transition? No. What matters is whether I know who I am in Christ. Do I see myself as truly His daughter? For example, do I run to Him as my father when I am upset, when I get in trouble, when I sin, or when I hurt someone else? When I have a difficult choice to make, do I run to Him so that He can guide my steps? What is my ultimate “dream” or my ultimate goal in life? Is it something that I made up on my own? Do I save for earthly treasures that will be wasted away? Or is my treasure in the Kingdom of God? My goals, dreams, and my will have to be in accordance with His will. So, what is His will??? Our salvation.

…this is the real challenge for each of us…to know and understand that our will is not always going to be what is best for our salvation, which has to be the ultimate goal of our existence. I read or heard somewhere that God creates each one of us and gifts us with a life so that we can spend this time in repentance from our sins. This means that our ultimate goal has to be salvation – which is the ultimate will of God for our lives. The details of what we do in the body having surrendered our will to His are up to Him, as long as we share the same ultimate goal with Him.

Can we possibly think that if we ask God for something good for our salvation, He would not provide?

He will provide the path, the answers, the vision, and the patience to bear everything.


with love,



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