When Your World Falls Apart: What To Do When You Lose The Dream You Thought Came True

Another lifetime ago, I lived in Winston-Salem and worked with artists. I loved everything about my life: cool weather, historic places to explore, a beautiful townhome, lots of friends that gathered throughout the week, a creative job I loved, and volunteer service to help artists in the church and in the community.

I was living my best life–my best dream–till it all crashed to the floor.

I lost my job and couldn’t find another one. My finances ran thin, so I picked up part time work as a nanny. All the friends so eager to hang out before were now suddenly non-existent. The only thing I had left was my volunteer service, but I was quickly losing that too if I couldn’t afford my housing.

One night I was standing on the side of the road picking up dog poo from a client, and I had a light bulb moment. “What are you doing here?” I told myself. “You have a college education; why aren’t you using it?”

The dream I thought I had was gone, but I convinced myself that somehow it would all come back if I could just find a way to stay in Winston-Salem.

I decided to take on a roommate–first in over four years since college–to help out. I thought everything was going well and things were starting to look up. Then I overheard her on the phone looking for a new place to rent without telling me she wanted to leave. I was devastated and angry, so I acted quickly to take charge. I put in my notice with the leasing office, packed up my belongings, and moved home.

The Lie I Believed For A Decade

A lot of anger got packed up with me when I left that place. I didn’t understand how God could let me live the dream and then lose it.

I let the anger box away every good memory from that time in my life and tell me I would never again live a happy or fulfilled life.

I allowed myself to believe I never heard from God in Winston-Salem, and, maybe, I never heard God at all. For a decade thereafter, I lived in a cloud of sorrow and regret believing my best years were behind me. But God…

Hindsight is 20-20: Discovering My Tribe

Looking back now, I see things differently. The more I had tried to stay in Winston-Salem, the more I needed to go. My roommate was just the final straw in a long list of circumstances pushing me to leave. Sure, God could have opened doors of prosperity and protection to keep my dream going in Winston-Salem. If He had done that, however, it wouldn’t have been the full dream He had for me.

What I really had in Winston-Salem was a glimpse of my purpose and calling and clarification of who my tribe is.

Every Christian has a unique tribe or group of people they can talk to about faith and life without inhibitions. You have a specific set of skills that resonate with them, and they will listen to you in ways they won’t listen to otbers.

For me, that group is artists. While I loved my work with artists in Winston-Salem, I was meant to meet and work with more artists than just the ones in that location. I couldn’t have known that without leaving it.

Find Peace With It and Stay The Course

I had a choice to stay angry and distanced from God or forgive the past and move on. I chose the latter. Doing so opened doors for me to begin to heal from that pain and even see the beauty in it.

Understanding doesn’t come quick or easy, but one thing I did come to understand was that my best years were not behind me in Winston-Salem. A lot of good came from leaving, and a much bigger purpose for my life started happening after I came home.

Once you make up your mind to move forward after pain, you have to be determined to stick to it and not pick up that old grudge.

Allow God to give you new experiences. Put Him first and pursue the vision He gives you for your life. When you do that, you don’t have to go looking for ways to use your talent or feel fulfilled. God will put you in the path you need to go and lead you to ministry in unexpected ways.

Enjoy the journey!

The Dream of My Son

You would love my son.
When he was young, his black hair curled around his ears and bounced when he ran outside to play. He had long eyelashes that feathered his light skin like angel wings when he slept.
It was hard for my son to sit still–he was like his father in that. He was always on a mission to build the next fort, fight the next enemy raid, save the next princess, or build the next rocket to Mars. When his imaginary world wasn’t fully booking his time, he was in the garden or kitchen or studio helping me. He was always bringing me flowers or little drawings to make me smile. He was not the kind of son that troubles his parents; he was the one that lived to make them proud. My son’s imaginative and compassionate heart surpassed my wildest dreams for him.
You would have loved my son…if he were here yet.
Sometimes we dream about the future and what is yet to be. That’s the way my son came to me. I knew his name and his character long before I met the man that would be my husband. Though I have never held my son in my arms, I feel the joy and pain of his memory as if it had really happened.
I am not a mother.
Yet the dream of my son rests heavy on my heart denying the truth of that statement.
I am not a mother…yet.
This world is full of injustices:
One woman has an unwanted pregnancy while another tries for years to have one. One woman longs for a godly husband while another cheats on the good one she has. One child wants for nothing while another struggles to find a safe, happy home. One parent sacrifices everything to care for her child while another ignores hers to pursue her own selfish desires. Children are forced to act like adults in a godless world devoid of a moral compass.
All this angers me. All this grieves the heart of God too.
I am not old and yet, at my age, most of my peers are married with children having children now. If I think about it too much, I am easily angered by the fact that I am not there yet.
Why, oh God, do you give me the vision of a happy life, married, and my son…why my son!…when every year my body ages towards infertility or worse!
You may have said something similar to God yourself. God likes to remind me of Sarah every time I do.
Um, you know I made a dream like this come true for a woman in her 80s, right?
Oh Lord, please don’t wait that long!
But that’s the point: WAIT!
When the vision hasn’t happened, prepare your heart and life as if it were. That’s what it means to wait. Get ready in every way possible. If you can save money towards your vision, save. If you can get healthier, get healthy. Some complications and health risks in pregnancy can be avoided by losing weight and getting healthier before you are even trying to get pregnant. You’ll be thankful you put in the effort too when you try to chase around a toddler in your 80s…I hope that isn’t literal for any of us. 😉
During this time in our lives when we don’t really understand what God is doing or why we don’t have the hopes and dreams we planned to at this time, it is easy to start comparing ourselves to others and despairing at our lack. I like what a local friend and pastor said about this:
When you compare yourself to others, you rob yourself of what God is trying to do in your life. –Ryan Barbato
It is very easy to get caught up in comparisons and judgments of others, but we cannot change the world, we can only change ourselves. Furthermore, judging others fills us with resentment and anger about people and situations we don’t know all the facts about. God is writing their stories in the same way that he is writing ours, and he can make lemonade out of our lemons better than we can.
Maybe we need to start asking God to help us judge others from His perspective through eyes of forgiveness and love instead of holding on to our sour lemons.