Living Fulfilled Even When Your Dreams Haven't Come True (Yet)
Updated: Aug 6
This is something I have been wanting to write about for a while but haven't found the space or time to really sit down and do it. I think another thing that has contributed to me stalling to write this piece is the fact that it is something I sometimes struggle with as well and don't really feel I have much encouragement to offer but I'll try.
"Live your best life" is something we hear all the time and while this sentiment is a wonderful thing to pursue, I also think that sometimes we get caught up in idealizing what our best life is and think that if it's not happening the way we envision it, we can't possibly live our best life where we are now because, at the moment, our best life doesn't match what our current situation is. We confuse our best life for our dream life and this is where discontentment (and even jealousy) can brew if not acknowledged and resolved appropriately; I am super guilty of that in the past. How many of you have an idea of what your best life looks like and notice that it doesn't reflect where you are at the moment? I'm raising my hand high on that one. I see myself traveling and speaking into lots of people lives, writing books and keeping up with my blog that reaches millions of people around the world and leading worship all over the globe. That, to me, is what I believe my best life looks like and while that is a wonderful dream, who says I have to wait for my life to look like that in order to feel fulfilled? Why can't I start living my best life now; speaking into people's lives, writing books and on my blog, and worship leading? My life might not be dressed in the fancy context of a global stage but that doesn't mean that many people can't be reached with the gifts I've been given now.
Disappointment and discontentment happen when our idea of what our lives should look like don't match up with where the Lord has us at the moment. I want to do all the things I've mentioned above: be a worship leader, speak into people's lives, and be a writer. That's all I've wanted to do since graduating college in 2016 and I feel so confident that that is what the Lord is calling me to do with my life. I moved back home to get myself ready and "prepared" to pursue those things but what I never realized is that the Lord put me right where He wanted me to be to do those very things right here and right now, in a different context than I was imagining. I'm speaking into people's lives every day whether at work or on the phone when people call for advice, I write on my blog and am currently working on my second novel, therefore I'm a writer. Every Saturday I lead worship at my small group and help lead people to commune with the Holy Spirit in a deeper way than they knew how to before and it is so cool to get to watch the Lord move like that every week. I am literally doing the things He has called me to do. The only difference is that the "stage" looks different.
Because those things are how I'm living and not what I do for a living, I thought I wasn't living out my dream (my best life) and therefore, I lacked the feeling of fulfillment.
For so long I had been complaining and asking God, "Why? Why are You keeping me here? What lesson am I supposed to be learning? How do I get to where You want me to be? What is it that I have to do in order to move past this season? Why is this season so long? Why aren't You giving me clear answers? Do You even care about my desires? Why give these dreams to me if You didn't plan on fulfilling them sooner rather than later? Could you at least take these desires away until it's around the time You plan on fulfilling them? Do You think this is funny or something, watching me in pain?" Phew, that was a long of questions and a whole lot of feelings. Now that I've explained a little bit of where my heart was (key word: WAS) at, let me let you in on what I have been learning and address each question with how the Holy Spirit responded to me.
1. Why? | Holy Spirit: "Why what, exactly? I know what you're questioning but I want you to say it out loud what you're really questioning. Go ahead, tell Me. Trust Me."
Me: "I want to know why my life doesn't look the way I wanted it to. What's the big idea? What's up with that?"
Holy Spirit: "I called you to live your life for the Kingdom and to use the gifts you were given to further the Kingdom. I never said what it would look like, I just told you to do it and trust Me. So trust Me."
Let's unpack that: This is so real. He knows us inside and out, there is nothing He doesn't know about us, y'all. So when I got this response, my first reaction was to roll my eyes to be honest because it wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. (Plot twist, none of the answers I got were what I wanted to hear, haha!) But His answers were everything I needed to hear and that is so good for and with my soul. He gives us a command and our only response should be obedience, but because we are human and flawed, we hesitate and overthink and project our understanding over the situation instead of His wisdom. As a result, we get disappointed because what is happening isn't exactly what we thought would happen and this causes us to question ourselves and/or God. What would happen, though, if we just did what He called us to do and didn't worry about the context He thinks we are being called to do those things in? We would see Him working so much more clearly through us and into the situations He has lead us to.
2. Why are You keeping me here? | Holy Spirit: "I'm not keeping you here, I've called you here and since this is your mission field, you are to do the work that's been asked of you and be a vessel of God."
Let's unpack that: Again, that was super real! Not the answer I expected but it's the answer I needed to hear and He did so in a stern but loving way. Not much else to say here other than: oof, haha!
3. What am I supposed to be learning? | Holy Spirit: "You're always learning no matter where you are. You don't learn a lesson to get somewhere else and "level up" then cease to learn anything new. That's not how this works."
Let's unpack that: I don't know what I was expecting other than this to be honest, haha! We are always learning, there's never going to be a moment when we know everything there is to know about God and His ministry or reconciling us back to Him. In ever season, there is a lesson and we don't always move on from a season once we learn the lesson we were supposed to learn. Sometimes He keeps us in those seasons to practiced what we've learned. Though this can be frustrating at times, there is sanctification that comes through the process.
4. How do I get to where You want me to be? | Holy Spirit: "I've willed you to be here, therefore you're exactly where I want you to be. If I wanted you to be anywhere else, you would be there."
Let's unpack that: There's a song that I've been listening to on repeat by Sarah Reeves that says, "You got me right where You want me and I got eyes for You only. Take me from glory to glory, right where you want me." So good and so real! He has us where He wants us and knows the reason behind where we are at all times; if He didn't want or know we would be in a particular place or state of being, we wouldn't be there. It's as simple as that. He makes no mistake and is not surprised by where we are in life both literally and metaphorically.
5. What is it that I have to do in order to move past this season? | Holy Spirit: "Don't rush seasons. There is purpose and intent."
Let's unpack that: Notice, He didn't give me the answer I was looking for; He didn't tell me "how to get out of this season". He simply answered with Truth which was: I am doing something great, let Me do it.
6. Why is this season so long? Holy Spirit: "Don't rush seasons. There is purpose and intent behind every step."
Let's unpack that: Again, not the answer I wanted but the answer I needed. He gave me wisdom when I didn't know I needed it and wisdom is a promise He makes and keeps to us.
7. Why aren't You giving me clear answers? | Holy Spirit: "I Am the I Am."
Let's unpack that: It's as simple as His answer. He is the God of the universe, He can do what He wants, when He wants. I know that isn't a satisfying answer in the slightest but something we as Christians (especially as American Christians) need to develop a reverence and healthy fear of the King of Kings and God of the world. God isn't a genie that grants us wishes and He isn't there to make us happy. That's not God's intention. His intention is to reconcile His creation back to Him and allow us to experience immense joy while bringing Him glory through the process of salvation and sanctification . I would love to write more about this in the future because this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface but for right now, that is where I'll leave it.
8. Do You even care about my desires? | Holy Spirit: "You're my daughter, of course I care. If I didn't I wouldn't be listening."
Let's unpack that: If He didn't care, He wouldn't take the time to hear our prayers or give us blessings in His perfect timing or allow us to experience His Spiritual Gifts. He cares because He made us and like any good Father, He loves us and the Bible is the ultimate evidence of this incredible love. And because He is a good Father, He gives us blessing according to His timing & will (you wouldn't give a toddler a car. Great gift, but not the right timing and it would be unloving and unwise to gift a toddler with said car). There is such wisdom in the "yes", "soon", "not yet" and the "no" because it's coming from God!
9. Why give these desires to me if You didn't plan on fulfilling them sooner rather than later? | Holy Spirit: "To show you how much better I Am than the gift itself and to reveal my faithfulness through the process."
Let's unpack that: God promised to show His creation His love in the ultimate way but waited a long time before Jesus was even born into the world to save it. His people were waiting and waiting and went through countless trials and lifetimes before they experienced the fulfillment of His promise through Jesus Christ. In His eyes (because He is outside of time), He already fulfilled and answered their prayers but because they were only experiencing life in moments, they thought He wasn't delivering on His promises. God has given me desires and instilled them in my heart and He's already delivered on every promise. But I am human and living life moment by moment and so I haven't seen the thing He has already done. He gave me those desires to show me how, through the process, He is faithful and delivers on every promise He makes. Every time. Even if we don't see it right away or even in our lifetime, He fulfills His promises.
10. Could you at least take away these desires until it's around the time You are going to fulfill them? | Holy Spirit: *silence*
Let's unpack that: There is so much significance in Him being silent when it comes to answering our prayers. Every time I have asked this of Him, He has stayed silent and it used to hurt immensely to have my tears and pain met with silence. It felt like He wasn't listening or didn't care about what I was feeling but that couldn't be farther from the truth! Silence doesn't mean absence, y'all. He doesn't just answer prayers with words or acts; He answers prayers through peace and comfort too. And remember, He doesn't have to answer us at all! He owes us NOTHING!! But instead He chooses to answer us in many ways because He communicates with us in various ways. That's how much He loves us and the thing we have to remember, He is good.
11. Do You think this is fun, watching me in pain? | Holy Spirit: "You know Me."
Let's unpack that: God doesn't delight in our suffering. He is an interactive, caring, always present and steadfast Father. The Bible tells us we will experience pain but not once does it say He doesn't care about our pain or that He delights in our pain. It says to count affliction and/or persecution as joy because it means that we are believing in something bigger than ourselves and that God is moving despite our circumstances. When we read the Bible, we get a glimpse into God's character and we see how it plays out throughout history. How cool is that? The Bible explains every human emotion and root trial we will face and we see how God responds through every circumstance and situation. The context and people may be different, but the concept is the same and God is the same and He never once delights in our suffering. He moves despite our suffering and circumstance but never enjoys the suffering itself. No good Father enjoys watching His children suffer. Ever.
So what have we learned through these conversations with the Holy Spirit? And what have those conversations meant in terms of how I live out my purpose and calling despite the difference between what my life looks like now and how I dream it will look in the future? Well for starters, I have to honest with myself: I may not be "living my dream life" in terms of career, geographic location, or my financial, relational, personal life goals. However, I am living a life of fulfillment because I am going exactly what I feel I've been called to do. It may not be in the place or with the people I envisioned a few years ago, but that doesn't make my life any less blessed, valuable, or meaningful. I am so glad I get to do what I do and with the people I do life with. Is my life perfect? No. Will it ever be perfect? No. But will my obedience here take me to heights and depths I would have never imagined? Absolutely. Not because of anything I have or will ever do nor due to how good I am at doing it but because of how good and faithful God is. He will bless me with the opportunities to share His message (the Gospel) through the example of my life in whatever capacity He sees fit and that is more than ok with me. Whether it be in numerous countries in front of millions of people or if it's in my house with less than 10 people, I know that eternities will be changed forever because of God's work through me and all I want in life is to be used to spread the message of love.
Another thing I am taking away is this: I need to make the most of where He has me now and not wait for my life to look certain way in order for to be useful to God's kingdom. Just like Holy Spirit said, He isn't keeping me here, He is calling me here and when I learn to find joy in that, I will feel more fulfilled and more joy than if I saw my circumstance as a punishment or waiting grounds before my life "really starts". There is beauty to be found in every moment and just when we feel we aren't making a difference, we can be assured that God moving in ways we could never hope to imagine because He is capable of doing more than we know. Finally, here's what I feel led to do as I move forward:
Put my faith and trust in Him
Give Him my desires and dreams; He put them in our hearts in the first place
Ask Him questions and go to our Father with my thoughts; He cares
Don't put the blessings above the Blesser
It can be hard and even frustrating when we aren't living the life we envisioned, but God promises that He withholds no good thing from us (I mean He gave us His only Son, Jesus) so how could we ever think otherwise. He will give us what we need when we need it and there is no stopping the God of Heaven. He doesn't do everything we want Him to do but He does everything we need Him to do and that is what I am banking on because at the end of the day, I trust the one who made me to know me best. It doesn't always feel like it, but He cares. We just need to surround ourselves with people who know His character and Word well to echo it into our lives when we are feeling the lowest and most doubtful. He can take our questions, He can take our anger and frustration. He is God, He is bigger than our biggest problems and complaints. But He does always meet us with grace as well and I guarantee that if we take the time to trust that He knows what He is doing, we will find peace and fulfillment in Him.