The Healing Power of Collective Dreaming

Resisting Burnout and Trusting God for Communal Flourishing

Dina Martinez

Dina Martinez grew up in an inner city neighborhood in Los Angeles, where her parents emigrated from El Salvador. This has given her both resiliency and resourcefulness. She is a cultural guide, having grown up in the intersectionality of Los Angeles, crossing cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic conditions, genders, and generations. She has three sisters and eight nieces and nephews. 

Dina graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied sociology and Spanish. She helped launch a Destino movement at UCSB as a student and interned for two years to continue to establish the movement. She then helped pioneer San Diego Destino for four years and is currently giving leadership to Destino, the latino movement in Cru as a National Director. She has been on staff for 13 years.


Hi, my name is Dina Martinez, and I’m thankful to be here with you guys today. Today I get to share a little bit about what collective flourishing could look like and has looked like on my personal journey. I have been on staff now with Cru for 13 years, and I’ve worked with Destino for most of my time with Cru. But in the last month or so I’ve decided to transition off staff and will be taking a six-month sabbatical. 

In the last few years, I’ve been on a journey of what it looks like to live life more holistically and to be able to pursue rest and health and collective health for everybody in my community. I grew up in South Central LA where it’s like a high-crisis environment, and so for me, it’s actually easy to thrive in chaos, if that makes sense to people. I remember doing Senior Leadership Development a couple years back, and we were focusing on the problem, and we had spent like a whole meeting talking about the problem, and I remember people being overwhelmed by that. But for me, that was actually like, “Oh, I feel energized by chaos.” 

And it caused me to question why. A lot of that comes from my background, so I knew that that’s probably why I thrive in chaos, just given the environments that I was in. And so that’s where I started pursuing a little bit more, like, the therapy work and trying to understand. Because one of the things that happens when you are in high-crisis environments or high-chaos environments is, when the chaos is over and there is no chaos, there’s this restlessness that begins to creep up. And that’s what I started experiencing as I had walked through a lot of crisis, especially during my Senior Leadership Development that happened during pandemic, so just everything was chaotic or was up in arms. But then, realizing after the end that I started getting the restlessness, and that happens because there’s, like, adrenaline kicking in and anxiety. And you still have a lot of hypervigilance that you need to survive when you’re in crisis environments, but not realizing,

 “Oh, man, what about when that isn’t possible, or where that stops?” And so, as I started doing more therapy and learning about that, it started making sense of why I would get so tired, or even the extreme fatigues after long periods of high-need areas. And so, in that, I started asking God, like, “God, what would it look like for me to be able to experience full joy and full peace and have balance? Like, be able to understand the balance of work and rest?” 

And so in the last few years, I’ve become more aware of the trauma—informed in, like, better mental health. And intellectually, I think I can understand a lot of it. But I’m realizing, “Oh, man, I also need to practice.” And so, what would it look like to have an environment where I’m actually practicing what I’m—where I’m learning, with work balance and with rest balance? And so that’s one of the reasons why I decided to take that step of faith. And the passage that God brought to my mind was the David and Goliath passage. I had been praying, like, what to do. And that story brought to mind, and God had shared with me about how David is getting ready to fight Goliath, and they give him the King’s armor, but the King’s armor doesn’t fit him. And so he instead takes it off, and then, you know, decides that he’s going to fight the giant with a slingshot. And so he goes and looks for the five rocks and stuff. And in that process, I realized, like, “Oh, what would it look like for me to take off the armor if it doesn’t fit, and be able to look for another way that would work for me in God, and in my journey with God?” And that whole passage is really about decision-making and trusting God. Like, he’s choosing to trust God. So it’s not really about the type of tools, per se, or, like—I could get all theoretical about that. But it’s really about God’s power being demonstrated as we’re choosing to entrust Him with what He has given to us. And so I think that really helped bring to light, like, “What would it look like for us to trust God even when we’re resting? And what would it look like for me to trust God for my community and with my community, even when we’re in high crisis, to be able to still rest, to be able to center rest, and choose that as a forum to trust God and to be able to experience His goodness and His power, and relying on His power more than my power?” 

And as I’ve taken that step of faith, it’s been really hard to be honest. I think it’s really—even, like, choosing to step away from ministry and from, like, work—it’s shown me my own lack of trusting God, and my reliance on myself sometimes and my own skill sets. And so, in that process, it’s been really cool to be able to have that dependence on God be renewed in a lot of ways. One of the things that I started doing is, I got a life coach—or not a life coach, it’s like an executive coach. It was gifted to me, which I’m thankful for, because I needed that. And as I had been processing with him, one of the questions that surfaced is the reality that I find myself constantly in high-crisis environments—in the ERs of life, if you will. 

And so he was saying, like, “Well, a question to think or to ponder is, if you didn’t have to be in the ER, what would you want to do? What would dreaming look like for you? What would you want to, like, try or create or do?” And that really was a hard question to be asked. Because I think I’ve lived most of my life in the ER, so I didn’t honestly know how to answer that. And it was even making me, like—”I don’t even know where to begin to think or to dream about what life could look like.” And so then we draw the conclusion of, “Well, what would it look like to practice dreaming?” And I liked the idea of practicing dreaming more than, like, “Create a dream, and then it’s done.” But the idea of practicing to dream, and some of the practical things that I was thinking through—it was like, ”Well, I could journal and see—well, I could do that.” 

But immediately, I also went to my community, and the collective thinking, because I’m pretty collective in my process, and have high social responsibility. And so I started thinking, like, “What would it look like for me to be able to engage people in the practice of dreaming and asking them a question like, ‘Hey, what’s your dream? What’s that looking like for you? And what’s something that you’re trusting God for in this season that is, like, audacious and wild that maybe feels impossible, but it’s something you’re trusting God to do in your life?’” 

And it’s really cool, because I think as I’ve began—it’s still new—I’ve began to ask the questions, it really has—as I hear other people’s dream—it creates this synergy for me to be able to continue and to think about potentially dreaming with God about something and what that could look like. And that, I think, is the beginning of what collective flourishing could look like. It’s something that I’m beginning to unravel and to discover. It’s not something that I have full answers to, but it’s something that excites me because I think, especially in the environments that I grew up, dreaming becomes secondary. It’s like your priority really is, like, being able to, you know, survive and get out of the hood, if you will. But I think more than trying to get out, I want to be able to say, “How do I bring flourishing in? And how do we be able to live together and live in harmony, and be able to dream in that way?” 

And so it’s hard, I think, especially having experienced a lot of pain in our lives, but it’s something that I think God definitely is inviting us to and inviting me to in this season. And so that’s what I want to even invite you guys in, as a community, is like, “How do we continue to dream for ourselves? How do we continue to invite flourishing in spaces where maybe there’s been a lot of pain and grief and lament in the last few years?” Yeah, would you guys continue to take the steps of faith with me as we discover what that could look like and make space for self-care, making space for rest, making space for us to be able to trust God through those things? And so, I do—I pray that you guys would be able to uncover what collective flourishing could look like for you. I do pray that people will be able to experience what dreaming could look like. I mean, I’m excited for what dreaming could look like for me in the next six months. And so I’m trusting God for that. And so we’ll see how it goes. Check back on me in six months. All right. Thank you for the time to speak.

Want to Dig A Little Deeper? Check out Ep. 34: When Being Collective Helps Us Flourish with Dina Martinez.

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