We all have dreams. I don't think there is a person who has ever lived who didn't have some personal aspiration toward greatness: greatness in a sport, in music, in ministry, in business, in finance. The list goes on and on. As human beings, we can strive toward these things with all our strength, energy, and personal resolve. But there is one thing about dreams that we can't control: the fact that some dreams just aren't meant to be.
About ten years ago, as a young girl in my teens, I was dreaming of doing one of two things as my life-work: either a historical fiction novelist or a volunteer at a military hospital for wounded veterans. Both of these endeavors utilized parts of my personality and abilities and seemed to be deeply-rooted passions of mine that I wanted to share with the world. And yet…neither of these things ever came to fruition. Just after high school, my life took an unexpected turn and, oddly enough, the story I ended up writing about was not one of fiction but reality. The story that became my message to the world was my own! My involvement with the military, which had long consumed my life, became more about reaching the hurting hearts of those who returned home from war…of assisting those whose wounds were hidden. This was because I had realized that sometimes those who physically have suffered are able to cope with their wounds better than those whose injuries lie under the surface.
If you had asked that young girl what she would be doing in ten years, she would have probably said one of those two things mentioned earlier. Ten years later, that girl is working as a Marketing Director for a summer baseball team and getting to impact the lives of young college baseball players from around the country; she is sharing her love of music with a few piano students that she teaches in her spare time. As for her writing, she runs a blog titled: Open To Grace where she shares the hope that got her through the hardest times of her life. She continues to assist the military when and where she can, but it is not her main focus as before. Things have changed…drastically!
For a long time, I resented God for not allowing me to fulfill the dreams I had set for myself. I felt like I was being cheated out of the life I wanted. But it has gradually dawned on me that, no matter how good the intention, you will never find the happiness you desire in your work if it is not what you were meant to do in the first place. Looking back, I see that the things I so desperately hoped to achieve were not what I was intended to do. By saying no, God was sparing me of the pain I would've incurred had I kept on that track. It may have been temporarily fulfilling but, in the long run, I would have missed out on a lot of blessings that He wanted to bring my way…blessings that have changed my life in so many ways.
Our society today encourages our youth to "pursue your dreams," but it's usually not with the intent of finding out God's will along the way. Dreams are good, but discovering what you were really created to do is of far greater importance. My life has become about more than trying to fulfill my own destiny. Fulfilling my dreams has been replaced by serving God and others. I found my purpose and my calling in life when I started to live a life of faith - a life that placed my future in the hands of God and simply began to enjoy the blessings along the way. I started to plan less and thank more. It revolutionized the way I approached each day. Don't get me wrong: was it hard to accept that I might not end up doing some of the things I had originally planned on doing? Of course it was! But I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am now living the life I was meant to live all along. Sometimes, when we watch dreams die, we think that there is no way that anything better could be in store for us. But this is where trusting God comes into play and, in time, we will understand and accept that His will was…and is…the best.
I am thankful that He did not give me what I wanted or asked for because, as author Kyle Idleman wrote, "When we die to ourselves and completely submit to Jesus, there is a surprising effect to dying. We discover new life." Letting go of our own plans is never easy but sometimes God asks us to do that so that we can receive a greater gift that He has in mind.