You know that song by Green Day?
This is not about that.
It’s about disappointment and how it can be like poison to our hope, a dream killer.
It cuts deep, like a knife, and can leave some really ugly scars if neglected for too long, damaging our ability to hope for better days, dream creatively, and trust God with every area of our lives.
So what do you do when those wounds don’t heal? When you leave them to fester and they start poisoning the rest of you?
Recently, whilst planning for a highly-anticipated Christmas getaway, I found myself in that place. It seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong, was doing just that. One of my flights were cancelled, my Airbnb requests kept getting rejected, and every time I attempted to book others, those were cancelled as well. It was like the trip just didn’t want to happen. Before I knew it, some of my past disappointments were suddenly at the forefront of my mind. It was like the hooded cynic in me remembered the times I’d tasted the bitter reality of unfulfilled desires and dead dreams, and was warning me to retreat before I swallowed that pill again.
You know, abort mission…. abandon ship.
The first thoughts that crossed my mind were,
God, what’s happening?”
“Do you not want me to travel? Is that why this isn’t working?”
“I’ve been dreaming about this trip for a while now…. I REALLY want this.”
“Maybe He just doesn’t want you to travel.”
“But I’ve been looking forward to this….”
“Don’t do it. You’ll travel and bad things will happen because you weren’t meant to go there in the first place.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t go anymore.”
“Should I just cancel my entire trip?”
Welcome to the mind of a serial worrier everyone.
Shortly after that melodramatic thought-bomb, it dawned on me that I had a really bad habit of thinking the worst about God in these situations. And it wasn’t limited to that one incident, that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. It made me realize that somewhere along the way, I started allowing past disappointments to influence how I think and hope in the present. Like thick fog on a dark highway, it obstructed my vision to the point where I couldn’t see God’s true character clearly, so I started winging it. Subsequently, that limited my ability to see the bigger picture.
Thankfully, those thoughts were countered almost as quickly as they crossed my mind. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit was firmly, but gently, scolding me for having such poor faith.
I was reminded that when I hope for something, or set a desirable goal that doesn’t work out, it is not an indicator that God is trying to sabotage my life. Now, I’ve never explicitly (or consciously) thought the latter, but if someone was to connect the dots in my mind they’d more or less arrive at such a conclusion.
But that’s not Him.
God is not the antagonist of this story.
He is not the thief here (John 10: 7-16).
In actuality, I should have been thanking Him for whatever He was protecting me from and for the fact that now, I’ll be on the path that He’s mapped out for me.
I realized that my initial plans probably weren’t the best for me, so God was merely altering them for the better. It was the perfect embodiment of Proverbs 16: 9 (NIV),
In their hearts Humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
I can remember a time when this verse meant very little to me.
I’d hear people citing it to preface statements like, “You’ve got to let God plan the course of your life…. Just give Him your dreams!” And for a long time, I couldn’t fathom why I had to just give away my hopes and dreams. I didn’t understand why everyone else was allowed to have these huge, near-impossible goals, dreams, and expectations for their lives while I had to just throw mine away…. toss em’ to the wind.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There’s a reason why God wants us to trust that He will competently and abundantly provide for/guide us in everything we do. It’s not that He wants us to entrust our dreams to Him so that He could trash them and go back to sipping on a big ole’ cup of grinch tea. On the contrary, He actually wants to bring them to fruition, but in His amazing way.
I don’t want to mislead anyone though, sometimes the things we desire and hope for aren’t always the best for us, and God knows that. The majority of my greatest disappointments came from my inability to understand this concept. But it’s really quite simple; those are the dreams that were meant to remain buried forever. They were never meant to exist outside the realm of thought.
So if you’re anything like me, I’d like to encourage you to let go of all the moments when you hoped, prayed, and waited for a specific thing to occur and it never did.
Seriously, let them go, or you’ll be chasing unicorns for the rest of your life.
Let go of the dead weight, but don’t give up completely. Don’t let the disappointment from those moments limit your ability to dream again. Trust that God knows what you need. And when you have your heart set on certain things that don’t happen how you wanted them to (or at all), know that He is doing something different because it is truly the better option for you. Not only is He all-knowing, but time is like putty in His hands and He knows the best moments to make certain things happen. His plans are to prosper you, not to harm you; they are plans that will give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29: 11-13 NIV). He’s not trying to hurt, or “break” you into submission, He truly does want the best for you!
So keep dreaming, my dear readers. The things that are for you, will always find you.
Thanks for reading Xxx