“If God can do this for me, He can do it for anyone.”
“What if you gave up on your dream today, and tomorrow was the day that it came true.”
“Never let your dreams die!”
You’ve been working so hard – maybe it’s a business, a ministry, a relationship – and you realize it’s not happening. You keep praying and hustling and for some reason, some unknown reason, the thing that you knew was supposed to happen, the thing you felt in your bones was God’s will for your life, is not happening.
I’ve felt this several times.
- The job as manager of a bridal boutique when I was in my early 20’s.
- My first marriage.
- A radio show. (For two different major ministries.)
Oh there are many more. But these three? I remember where I was standing, what I was wearing, who I was with when that particular dream died.
One of these dreams was killed for me. It was a long painful death that caused me a lot of hurt and heartbreak. And the other two? I had to be the one to let it go – to make the decision that these particular dreams were over and it was time to move on.
Those were some of the hardest decisions of my life.
I was past the point of being sensible. Others saw that my dream was not going to happen. But I had those voices inside my head (and later, on Facebook) that told me differently.
“You and God can do anything.”
“Don’t give up on your dream!”
“With God, all things are possible.”
So I kept willing my dreams to stay on life support instead of letting them die with the dignity that they (and I) deserved.
Because even though everything is possible with God, it doesn’t mean God gives you every possibility.
Oh, I say I want God more than anything else. I know all the right things to say. But I want God through my dream. I want God to do what I want God to do, and give me my dreams so I can point to Him and say “Only God.”
But God promised his presence – not my presents.
So how do you let a dream die? Something that you’ve prayer for, prepared for, and invested in? How do you say goodbye? Here are some hard steps I’ve needed to wrestle through:
1 Acknowledge that it was important to you. This is not a time to be the fox with the grapes who said, “They probably were sour anyway.” So many times we try to explain away disappointment instead of feeling out way through it. It is good and right to grieve a dream that will never happen. It is important to acknowledge this was important to you. And then, there is a process of letting go. For me, this process involves praying, reading God’s word, talking with trusted people (my close circle of friends, my husband, my pastor,) and honestly, crying.
Looking at the five stages of grief that we go through when someone close to us dies, I think it’s interesting and helpful to note that we must go through those five stages when a dream dies.
1. Denial – refusing to let the dream die
2. Anger – Feelings of injustice that the dream is being taken away
3. Bargaining – Trying to make deals with God to get the dream back
4. Depression – Mourning the loss of the dream
5. Acceptance – Moving on and making room for a new dream.
But I believe for those of us who know God, there is a 6th step to grief.
6. Hope – We get to hope for better things. Yes, a dream has died, it is worth grieving. But when our faith is made real? We get to experience real hope.
If a dream is worth dreaming, it’s worth properly grieving.
2. Spend some time wrestling with God. It might be worth examining whether there was a reason God is withholding this particular dream. Is there something in my life that God is trying to get me to pay attention to? Is there sin that needs to be resolved? Or my favorite – has the dream become an idol. (Ugh – the ugly mirror.) Psalm 139:23 says “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” That is a bold verse to pray, but in order to have true breakthrough and understanding of what God is up to in our lives, we must be willing to confess every part we try to hide from God.
3. Understand that there is more than one way for a dream to happen. Maybe the dream isn’t dead – maybe the method is. Maybe you have been working, trying and striving, and God is saying, “Wait.” Maybe, this is not the right time, the right method, or the right person. The dream is alive, but the way is different.
4. Pay close attention to the other things God is doing in your life. Ten years ago, I wrote down 50 dreams I wanted to pray over and commit to God. 34 of those dreams have come to fruition. There are seven that I am still praying over. The other nine? I’ve come to understand that they are not part of God’s plan for my life.
And that is just fine with me.
When you see the other areas where God is moving and growing you, it’s easier to give up the things that no longer matter, that are no longer important. It’s so much easier to let a dream die when you have a record of all the great things He has done.
5. Make Room for God to give you a new dream. Just because the dream is dead, doesn’t mean the dreamer is. And the author of our lives? He is alive and waiting for you to take part in His amazing plan for your life.
Pray that God would give you the desires of His heart, so that when you dream, you can live bigger than even you can imagine.
Dream boldly. Great things have been accomplished because God’s people dared to dream boldly. But listen carefully. Is God doing something new in your life that you need to make room for?
What dream have you had to let die?
Many women find it easy to pray for the concerns and well-being of others. But when it comes to praying for themselves, it’s another story. If you are letting go of a dream and want to pray through your grief (which I highly recommend) Praying God’s Word for Your Life is a great tool to walk you through the experience.
In this book, I give you simple strategies that will:
· create a habit of praying with renewed boldness
· generate the desire for consistency in her prayer life
· provide proper expectations to see her prayers fulfilled in God’s ultimate plan for her life.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.
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