“The death of a dream has its own shape of grief. You don’t go to a church or take a new ministry position expecting to crash and burn. You dream about the lives changed and the difference made. You wonder what the revival will look like when it shows up. And you dream about the best version of yourself – capable, charismatic, confident, and loved.
But life doesn’t always turn out like you dreamed. And now, Lord, with the ashes of my dreams around me, I’m having a hard time dreaming again.” (Renewed, Leigh Powers, pg 122)
When I married my husband, he was working part-time as a youth pastor and attending seminary for his Masters. Three months after our wedding, I was pregnant with our first child and working as a substitute teacher (freshly graduated with my B.Ed. After Degree just two months before our wedding), and couldn’t satisfy the senior pastor’s expectations of being a ‘two for one’.
A newlywed, teaching, pregnant, youth pastor’s wife. That was a lot to take in. What dreams did I have? I wanted to set up our home; get ready for our baby; work as much as I could before he was born; and help/support my husband in ministry as best as I could. Honestly, helping in ministry was not at the top of my priority list in our first year of marriage.
By the time I was 5 months pregnant, we knew that our son had a multicystic kidney (instead of a kidney, there were 3 cysts taking up the space), which meant that he only had one functioning kidney. This put my pregnancy immediately into the High Risk category and my medical appointments increased substantially. When baby was born, he had a team from the NICU in our delivery room, all ready for him, in case of trouble.
Three months before baby was born, the church laid my husband off, citing a lack of finances as the reason. (We found out years later that the treasurer had been embezzeling money at the time.) What dreams did I have? What dreams ended or began?
Who do we blame for the death of our dreams? Ourselves? Others? God? Evil?
The answers are likely a muddy mix of those, but what we decide to do with our pain is of more significance than the proper apportioning of blame.
“Dead dreams encourage us to start playing it safe. We reached for the stars and crashed hard, so we settle for what we can reach from a stepstool. We accept that how it is now is how it always will be. Instead of looking for what God can do, we content ourselves with what we can accomplish.” (Ibid, pg 124)
This is the crux of the matter when it comes to dead dreams: will we doubt and run away, or strengthen our faith and keep going?
Surviving the tough times in life can be a bit like trying to get a campfire started with wet wood. You need something impervious to the damp… something unaffected by the circumstantial elements… something that will get you through the small stuff to bigger and better things… something like gasoline. ‘It isn’t safe, but it works real good.’ If we didn’t know better though, we’d see that gas as just pouring more liquid on an already wet surface, not understanding that the chemical composition and reaction with a spark would nullify our ‘common sense’. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Perhaps the re-ignition of dreams is best supported with a hopeful Faith. Or a faithful Hope.
“Our fears come crashing down when they meet the reality of who our God is. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the one who conquered the grave. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one who still dwells in the midst of his church. And all our dreams are complete in him.
Believe. And let yourself dream again.” (Ibid., pg 125)
My current favorite song that sings hope into my heart: “Ain’t No Grave” sung by Molly Skaggs live at Bethel Church.