Awhile ago, I stepped out toward the fulfillment of a dream. After years of work, lots of prayer, and hope in God that he would do great things, He didn’t. At least that is what it seemed.
As the reality of my unmet hopes unveiled, I went through several reactions. At first, I felt foolish, exposed and almost mocked by the lack of response – “Who do I think I am that people would be interested in what I offered?” Then I felt critical and mad – at anyone and anything, a strategy to distance myself from the shame I felt – “I really am a failure and this just once again proves that reality.” I talked to God and with several people about this, but went to bed unresolved, still in chaos.
Later on, I processed more with God, and he went deeper. As we worked, he freed me to stand apart from my offering and see it for what it is – just an offering and not a statement of my identity. However, I was still left with disappointment. Profound disappointment, the depth of which related to the passion of this dream.
“Now what am I to do with all this disappointment?” I wondered, because it just hurt.
I read a blog by Donald Miller that affirmed the pain of my disappointment. He says,
It’s a painful idea, isn’t it? The phrase “unfulfilled dreams” has a lonely tone, as though when our dreams go unfulfilled life has short changed us. Life or, perhaps, God….it is an aching truth we are not guaranteed our dreams will become a reality.
If that is true, and I think it is, our dreams by very definition are a source of pain, of this profound disappointment.
In the face of this reality, many of us stop dreaming. That is what I felt tempted to do – “Ok. That is the last time I will step out like that. I will just play it safe, keep it close to the chest. I will just bury the disappointment deeply beneath this safety.” The only problem is, this strategy doesn’t deal with the disappointment I already felt.
It also kills something of our hearts in the process. God gave us a “heart.” Not the physical one, but the “heart” of our soul. The center of us. What makes us more us than anything else about us. This heart can grow “cold,” can be “broken,” can become “dark,” even “dead,” and can become disengaged as we just “go through the motions of life.” One other thing about our hearts. Our hearts long. They dream. To have a heart that is alive is to have a heart that desires, dreams. A deadened heart is a heart that has stopped dreaming.
This is the choice I face. Keep dreaming and stir my heart. Stop dreaming and kill something of my heart. I chose to dream.
“But what of the disappointment? Where do I go with that?”
This morning as I sat there at the bottom of my heart, steeped in disappointment, God met me there. I found, it is to the disappointed heart that God speaks comfort and hope. He affirms the pain – my disappointment is real to him. He doesn’t scorn it and doesn’t want me to either. Instead, he offers his comfort – his compassion for my disappointment.
He doesn’t leave me there. His comfort calls me out of my disappointment. It give me hope to press on in further pursuit of my dreams – not with the promise that he will always fulfill them but with the promise to be there – in, over, and through them. That is a dream well worth pursuing.