Monday, May 20th, 2019
Everyone experiences the death of a dream. Whether it’s a life-long dream or smaller disappointments, we all have to watch some dreams die. Sadly, some never find the road back from broken dreams and they live in defeat. But it’s not necessary to do so.
This is the topic I want to explore—the road back from your broken dream. Often that journey offers opportunities for growth like no other time in our lives. That is when we are most likely to look up, to recognize our weakness and inadequacy, and to pay attention to what God has to say to us.
I journaled my way through an eighteen-month period in my life—quite a few years ago now—as I made the journey from brokenness to acceptance to, at last, victory. In retrospect, as I re-read those journal entries, I discovered a pattern of sorts—steps and stages that I went through on that road back. There were setbacks and failures but, gradually, day by day, God brought me to a place where I was no longer obsessed by that broken dream and the pain began to turn to joy.
For ten years I pursued my dream, determined to find what I thought would make me happy. But when I came to the end of my rope, I knew I had to make a decision: Would I continue this fruitless pursuit of a broken dream or would I relinquish the control of my life to Jesus Christ?
Often we want God to bless our dreams—when he wants to replace them with something better. We hold up our carefully constructed plan for our lives and say, “Dear Lord, I’ve got this all figured out real good, right down to the minute. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a good plan. So, please Lord, bless my plan.” But in reality, he’s waiting for us to give him a blank piece of paper and trust him to write the plan for us.
When I recognized that I had to relinquish my dead dream and go with God, or else live my life in futility and frustration and out of sync with God, I took the first step—which was to let go of that dream. Mind you, the dream was not evil, but I had made it the idol of my life. It had become a real stumbling block for me. It was a painful decision, but I sure wish I had made it long before I wasted those ten years.
Is that where you are today—at the decision point? Don’t take ten years or ten days to decide to let go of your broken dream. Take it from one who knows: what you’re really longing for will only be found when you can let go of your broken dream and give God permission to control your life.
Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
Are you living through the aftermath of a shattered dream? I believe that’s one of the most painful experiences in life—to let go of a dream that you have held dear.
I journaled my way through the death of my dream years ago, and I can now recognize the process I went through. I think it’s a similar process for most of us when our dreams die. After the first hard step of giving up the dream and giving God permission to control my life, I suppose I expected some instant feelings of relief and happiness. But I was suddenly brought face to face with the stark reality that, at first, the pain worsens and the hopeless feelings increase.
On the first day of that long journey back from my broken dream, I wrote this in my journal:
“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
On this first day of aloneness, I will to let my heart take courage and to learn to wait. The weeks facing me seem lifeless, long and dreary. I have many fears, and I don’t trust myself at all. I don’t feel courageous or strong but just the opposite. But feelings must be ignored. For me, this is all very impossible. If I make any progress, there will be no doubt but that God did it for me. My objective is to be the woman God has purposed me to be. I don’t understand why God let this happen. Why??? I really don’t understand. But this too shall pass. God loves me. He has a plan for me, and it is good. I will trust him today.
What I discovered was that the pain could not be avoided. I had to walk through it. So often we are asking God to stop the pain, and that is an understandable reaction. But a more appropriate prayer is to ask God to teach us through the pain so that we will not suffer in vain. We truly must embrace the pain of this journey rather than running from it. There is no escaping it. But we decide whether the pain will result in something good in our lives or whether we will become embittered by it.
Jesus told us, “. . .unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019
I’m looking at what you do when your dream dies. All of us, at some time or another, must go through the death of a dream. Recovery from that is a grieving process, and this process must be experienced. However, the great news is this: God can use it for marvelous growth in our lives if we allow him to.
Jesus told us this in John 12:24, “. . .unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24). Life comes from death, and you can find new life even from the death of a dream. I went through the painful death of a dream some years ago, and my journal reveals some of the lessons God taught me.
There were moments when I seemed to have a grip. At one point I wrote the following:
I want to learn that God is enough. Even if he doesn’t give me what my emotions say I need, I will trust him. I want to learn to love him more than anyone or anything else.
But there were other days when I really wanted to quit. On one of those days I wrote this:
In a sense the days get harder. I wonder and worry and fear. The impact of the loss is more obvious. The temptation to call it quits is ever present. Now, I’m learning to walk by faith. There is nothing good on the horizon. Everything looks bleak. I don’t feel God’s presence.
One of the surprises on this journey back was that I had to make daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes momentary decisions to stay on the road. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I came so close to giving up and going back into “control mode.” At various points during many days, I had to reconfirm my initial decision to let go and let God.
My faith was small, but it was growing. The phrase that I heard God say to me in that still small voice inside my head was, “Can’t you trust me?” At each of these subsequent decision points, as I would be ready to quit the fight, that question would ring in my head: “Can’t you trust me?” It was the beginning of learning that the most important thing I can ever do for God is to demonstrate to him that I trust him.
Are you in that place today—you’ve let go of the dream but the pain seems to intensify? God knows and understands and, believe me, he has good plans for you. Don’t give up; don’t lose heart. Run to God for refuge. He will see you through and bring beauty out of your ashes, I promise.
Thursday, May 23rd, 2019
God’s ways are not our ways. You’ve heard that, I’m sure. In examining the journey we each must take when a dream dies, one of the first lessons I learned in the grieving and healing process was that the way to find relief and healing was by giving of myself to others. I began to see how totally self-centered my mind had been as I watched my dream die. There is a very strong temptation to curl up in the fetal position, close your door, shut everyone out, and throw a major pity party! My mind was consumed with my loss and I could hardly focus on anything or anyone else.
But as I began to spend time in God’s Word and get back into a close relationship with the Lord, my sensitivity to others began to grow. Without consciously recognizing it, I began reaching out to help others in various small ways. Then I became involved in some ministries at my church. One thing led to another and, before I knew it, I was busy with things other than myself.
I see now how crucial that was to my healing and relief from the pain of the death of my dream. If I hadn’t become involved in the lives of others, I wonder where I’d be today.
How about you? Are you in retreat mode right now? Granted, you may need a short time for recuperation, but please, don’t spend too much time there because the healing and joy you seek will be found as you get out of yourself and start focusing on others. We tend to think that we are only able to help others when we have it all together ourselves. But nothing could be further from the truth! We help others the most when we are able to empathize with them—and what better time to demonstrate true compassion than when you’re wounded yourself.
I can think of so many people I know who are going through great pain in their personal life, but in the midst of it, are ministering with great effectiveness to those around them. In the midst of giving to others, their own pain is lessened. In Proverbs we read that when we refresh others, we are ourselves refreshed. It goes back to the principle of reaping what you sow. If you need encouragement and help today on your journey back from a broken dream, then give it out to someone else. God will pour it back into your life in ways you’ve never imagined.
Friday, May 24th, 2019
Have you watched a dream die lately? Maybe your dream was a job you wanted but didn’t get, or a mate you’ve desired and haven’t found. Perhaps it’s a goal you haven’t been able to reach, a baby you haven’t been able to birth, or a marriage that has been dissolved. Broken dreams are a part of life, and this week I’ve been exploring the journey back when your dream dies.
The pain cannot be avoided. We have to embrace it and ask God to turn it into something good. But I want you to know that the pain doesn’t last forever. As I made my long journey back from a broken dream, there would come moments of joy and lightness of spirit. It took me by surprise; I think I believed that I would never be happy or lighthearted again. Having accepted that life could be dreary forever, these times of sheer delight brought hope and anticipation.
As the journey back from brokenness continues, the realization that life can be good again is almost more than we can comprehend. It is a little frightening; sometimes we feel guilty being happy. Then we begin to understand that God has good days ahead for us.
Then after considerable time on this road back from a broken dream, we realize that we’ve come a long way and, indeed, we have a perspective of the experience that we could never have imagined. The corner has been turned, and though we’ll never forget the journey and the pain, we know that God has lifted the burden, opened our eyes, and started us now on a new path of joy and service.
If you’re in the midst of the death of your dream right now, it will be difficult for you to believe that you’ll ever have another good day or life will ever hold excitement for you again. But don’t forget God’s power and his promises. Isaiah 61:1-3 reminds us of this:
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. . .to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?” (Galatians 3:4) I would echo his words today and encourage you in this way: Wherever you are on this road back from a broken dream, make it count for good in your life. God is able to turn it into something truly worthwhile, but only if you will allow Him to do so. Believe me, as one who held out for years and years, it is foolish to do so. He can replace your broken dream with a new one—better and more fulfilling than you’ll ever believe.