There are points in life where anything feels possible and the dreams on our heart seem tangible and alive with hope. Then there are seasons where talking about dreams feels like one big cliché and our heart is weighed down with discouragement.
If we let it, discouragement will steal away our dreams, our passion and our drive to move into all God has called us to and gifted us for. It will keep us small and hold us back from the extraordinary.
No one is immune from facing discouragement, but the good news is we don’t have to let it take us out or snuff out our dreams. How should we respond then, when we find ourselves battling it?
To pursue the dreams on our life takes a huge amount of courage. Discouragement literally takes away our courage, and therefore our ability to see our dreams become a reality. Staying encouraged then, or filled with courage, is crucial as we go after our dreams.
To stay encouraged, intentionality is key. We cannot expect it to just come our way and feel sorry for ourselves when it doesn’t. By pursuing and engaging with God and community, we should never be short of encouragement.
Are you feeling weary and discouraged, disheartened at how far from living out your dreams you seem? Talk to God about it. Wait on him until you hear what he has to say. Get in the Bible until your heart is filled with encouragement again. His words always breathe life.
Get around people who know the dreams on your heart, who see the treasures inside of you, and who won’t let you quit. I couldn’t list the amount of times the people around me have pulled me back from the brink of despair by speaking words of life to me, reminding me of who I am and filling me with courage to keep going. You can’t put a value on friends like that.
Grow where you are
The reality is, when we have a dream, there is always a process to its fulfilment. And often it is a longer, more convoluted process than we expect. Rarely, if ever, does life go the way we imagined.
And guess what? We aren’t ever going to reach a place where we feel like we’ve ‘made it’. There is always going to be more to go after. Our dreams will expand and countless facets of our lives will open up requiring more growth.
Sometimes in life there’s a strong temptation to check out from where we are because it feels like an ‘in between’ stage, before we get to the ‘good part’. But God calls us to grow wherever we are, to engage fully in each moment, and to invest in the people around us wherever we find ourselves. Even when it seems a thousand miles away from what is burning on our hearts to do.
Every single season of life we find ourselves in has purpose, whether or not we can see what it is. God’s way of preparing us for what’s ahead is almost never what we would expect and often appears quite obscure, but it’s only God who knows exactly what we need for a future only he can see.
Will you choose to trust him through the process? Lean into him, grab hold of the peace he freely gives, don’t throw away your dream and embrace where he has you. His timing is perfect and his plans for you are much better than you could imagine.
Take the focus off yourself
You know those times where it feels like all your friends’ wildest dreams are coming true at once, and you’re the only one 50 steps behind? And as much as you want to celebrate with them, your heart is grieving and discouragement and self-pity begin to creep their way in?
These are times we need to tell ourselves, ‘Stop it!’, and get out of our self-absorbed world (while of course acknowledging what our heart is feeling and bringing it to God). And the quickest way out of self-pity and discouragement? Go and be a blessing to someone else.
Wherever we are, however much our heart is longing for unfulfilled desires, we should never stop being an encouragement to others. God didn’t give us dreams so we could become self-absorbed and wrapped up in trying to make them happen. In fact, he made it so without others, the fulfilment of our dreams and destinies wouldn’t be possible.
So if you’re feeling ten thousand miles away from your dreams, go and encourage somebody else. You’ll be surprised how much your own heart will come alive again with purpose and hope.
And may we never forget it’s God who gives us dreams. The dreams in our heart and the destiny we passionately want to fulfil, are ultimately for his glory, not our own. Knowing this not only takes the focus off ourselves and puts it back onto him, it also takes the pressure off us having to strive to make things happen. It is only by his grace. And when we’re operating by his grace, things happen with a lot more ease!
So there you go. Go and kick discouragement in the face and never stop dreaming. Keep on keeping on, and as Heidi Baker says, ‘If you don’t quit, you win’.
Bonnie loves all things old-fashioned, exploring new places, coffee with friends and being with her family. She is passionate about broken hearts and relationships being restored through the power of vulnerability and honesty with God and others. Bonnie has a Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies and a Master of International Public Health, and hopes to work in developing countries one day.
Bonnie Dowie’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/bonnie-dowie.html