It was 2002. I was sitting in Starbucks with my team. Before I knew it, words came out of the “leader’s” mouth that struck me hard. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was in that instance that I knew, I was done. My time at this “job” was over. I could no longer “work” and minister with someone whose focus was on something that deep down inside, I was so against.
It was 2003. I was crying buckets of tears as my “boss” shared information that left me heartbroken. No, I wasn’t laid off or fired, I was just deeply saddened with the way things were going. I was working all the time, giving my all, and here I was left in tears. I was left thinking, is this really what business is all about?
It was 2007. I was the new “face.” I quickly became known as the “hard” teacher. I actually made my students work. I actually made them read, write papers, complete their assignments. Before I knew it, I had parents coming against me, telling me I worked their children too hard, that I was being unfair, I ruined their child’s opportunity for a scholarship, I didn’t like the students, etc. I was left wondering, “What are we teaching children if they don’t learn now that they have to work at things? What are we teaching them if we always give them the easy way out? How will they ever survive in the real world?
It was 2012. I disagreed with someone. Because I disagreed, I was immediately labeled as a “religious pharisee.” I was cast out.
It was 2013. Harsh words were spoken. I was surprised, hurt and angry. I gave them my all. I gave them my best.
Time after time, year after year, I questioned God. What happened to the 24-year old who was at seminary because she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was calling her to full-time ministry? What happened to the dreams I once held? The mission trips? The speaking engagements? All I ever wanted to do was reach a world with the love of God and yet, year after year, not only was I hurt by the people I thought I could trust, I was deeply saddened by the way these people treated me and others. “God, where are you? This isn’t the life I had envisioned for myself.”
In my quest to find answers, to hear from God about why my life looked so different from the one I envisioned for myself 14-years ago, I came across some timeless truths that have encouraged my heart at times of despair, confusion, hurt, and anger. With eyes wide open and a heart longing for peace, I came to realize that God has always had my dreams in mind and that the reality is, He is using them in ways I never imagined; in ways that are greater and bigger than what my little mind could have ever imagined.
Here’s what I’ve learned through my times of hurt, confusion, and broken dreams:
1) Follow the call of God, even if you are standing alone. I can’t help but to think of the countless examples in the Bible of men and women who did just this. Take Noah for instance. God called him and the world thought he was crazy. But yet, he continued to push forward, even when the world was against him. He was willing to stand alone in order to complete the calling on his life.
2) Don’t be afraid to face your giants. Every single one of us have giants that try to keep us away from our God-Sized Dreams. Giants that try to intimidate us with their words, their “bigness”, their following. Personally, I want to be like David, someone who regardless of how big that Giant is, I will go after it and slay it! Nothing will hold me back from the calling of God on my life!
3) Get back up after failure. Far too many times, we let failure get the best of us but the reality is, God can and wants to use us after we have fallen. Much like Peter, God is ready and waiting to take us back when we have fallen flat on our face.
4) Keep moving forward, even when life doesn’t turn out how you had planned. One of my all-time favorite Bible stories is that of Joseph. Here was a young man who had some big dreams. But before he knew it, his life was turned upside down. His brothers wanted nothing to do with him. He was accused of something he never did. His life looked like it was getting worse by the day. But, in all of this, he continued praising the ONE he loved. And in the end, God brought his dreams to fruition. All along, Joseph couldn’t see that God was preparing him for what He had and that all along, He was faithful to the calling He had on Joseph’s life.
5) Trust God, even when you don’t have all the answers. “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents” (Hebrews 11:8). God-Sized Dreamers don’t trust their own voice and ideas, instead, they trust the voice and ideas of God.
You see, despite the hurt, confusion and anger, God has been leading me all along. Every experience I have been through has prepared me for where He has me right now! The dreams I had of being in ministry full-time, reaching people around the world, speaking and encouraging the hearts of God, He has brought about! In my current role as a social media specialist, I have the opportunity to be a part of everything I had dreamed of when I was in seminary. Every hurtful word that was spoken to me, has prepared me for where I am right now.
Are you feeling depressed? Wondering where your dreams went? Tired of being hurt by those you thought you could trust? Feel like you’ve been waiting forever? Let me encourage you, stay the course! Trust God! Trust His timing! This world needs you, your story, your dreams! Remember, seek God with every fiber of your being, continue being faithful to Him, and He will open doors of opportunity that no man could ever do! Opportunity will seek YOU and before you realize it, your dreams will come about in ways you could have never of imagined!
“You don’t have to seek opportunity. All you have to do is seek God. And if you seek God, opportunity will seek you.”
Hang in there!