It’s 61 degrees, raining, gray skies and the blahs of winter have set in. I don’t know about you, but am I the only one who is struggling to get going in 2017? I am typically optimistic and a big planner, but so far I seem to be spending more time reflecting than taking action. I was struck by this quote recently, “Hell begins the day God grants you the vision to see all the things you could have done, but did not do.” I think too many of us are tentatively playing the game of life as if our whole purpose in this life is to arrive safely at death.
Statistics show that most Americans believe their lives do not look at all what they thought it would be. This produces emotions like disappointment, regret, and resentment. Our lives can get so busy and our dreams are often put on hold. But you know what? No matter how old you are or what life has thrown at you, it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Let me repeat, it is never too late to pursue your dreams! I don’t know about you, but I’m committed to not being the person who looks back at the end of my life and regrets all the opportunities I left on the table. Here are a few things that will revive your dreams within the context of the life you are living right now.
There are many decisions that can lead us in unexpected directions….and locations. I would have never thought that as an adult, I would spend thirteen months of my life in the heart of Baghdad, Iraq. For others, it may be family dynamics, such as having to provide long-term care for elderly parents, or raising a child with a disability, or having a marriage go bad because of infidelity, neglect, or abuse. You may be at a point in your life where you feel disillusioned or resentful and believe that because you did not do or get what you planned for, you are doing something wrong. These are very common reactions when things don’t go your way, but they can become unhealthy fixations and prevent you from ever reaching your dreams.
The truth is, when we were younger, we often had good intentions and big dreams, but we often set unrealistic expectations and timetables for our lives. Is it really so surprising that they do not play out exactly as we imagined them? All we had to go on at the time was our limited frame of reference and life experiences. When we tie our sense of success and value to this, we are being nearsighted and unfair to ourselves.
When we consider what it means to be on the “right” or “best” path, often something surprising happens. We discover that we are actually much closer to our youthful hopes & intentions than we realized. Our goal was not wrong—our story was. The question is not whether we are being true to our plans, but whether we are being true to who God is helping us become. The question we must keep asking ourselves is this: how are we being true to be the kind of person we wanted to be? For example, if you wanted to go off and have grand adventures, have you found ways to honor that intention where you are right now? Do you explore the great outdoors near your home, take your spouse on spontaneous day trips, or try new activities you have always had an interest in? If you wanted to be a writer, have you started a blog, written short articles or sought formal training? The key here is that you are taking small steps that will ultimately help you reach your bigger goals. “If you do little things like they are big things, God will do big things like they are little things.”
What I have learned is that our plans may not always turn out the way we thought they would, or at least within the timeframe we hoped for. But the good news is that the life we now have can be more satisfying and rewarding than we thought possible. It really boils down to our perspective on our situation and how are we making the most with what we have.
I am preaching a little more in this week’s blog, but I believe we all need a few reminders here and there about what is really true: “In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him,” and “Big dreams are a byproduct of a big God, and they make big people in the process; the goal isn’t ultimately accomplishing the big dream in your heart (although this is a good thing), it is who you are becoming in the process.” Remember that just because your life did not turn out the way you thought it would, does not mean your dreams are dead. Rather, it means that it was just not the right time or something better is coming your way and a few things have had to happen first in order to get you prepared. Be encouraged. Don’t stop believing. Take Action.
In closing I am praying your 2017 will be filled with extraordinary power, unbridled passion and that you will have the unquenchable presence of God to grant you compelling dreams that will inspire you and change your world.