“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
-William Butler Yeats
“I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re goin’, and hook up with them later.”
“Never be afraid to share your dreams with the world, because there’s nothing the world loves more than the taste of really sweet dreams.”
Many of our greatest disappointments come down to a matter of expectation and reality, or more accurately, dreams denied a place to take root. Dreams, hopes and desires have no form, no body and no real substance. Hitch them to a goal, and they become one step closer to fulfillment in our minds. Take a goal and a dream, then attach them to a person, a place or a position, and you have the potential for fulfillment of the dream if it is the right thing…or a descent into idolatry if it is the wrong thing.
Often, we hang onto the thoughts and memories of a person, a place or a position not because those people or things are irreplaceable, but because they represent our dreams. When the dating relationship (or the marriage) ends, we watch our future hopes and expectations of intimacy and companionship crumble. When the job changes, we watch as the time and effort we have invested in the hope to move forward in the organization zeroed out. When the place we once enjoyed living proves to be like any other place, we become disillusioned as the desires don’t match with reality. Not to say that things should never change; things always change. But when they do change, often we must adjust our dreams to our “new normal.”
The loss you feel now is a thread that runs throughout all areas of your life. As it is pulled free, you begin to realize just how deeply stitched it is. That person who rejected you has made you feel great pain, but the greater pain may be what has happened to your dreams. Maybe you ended a relationship but now you begin to see how much the other person truly meant to you. The well has run dry, and you are now thirsty. Perhaps you ended up with the person you thought was best, but now you see that he is, like you, a broken individual in need of grace. It could be that the person you cared for so deeply turned out to be something other than she seemed. Her seemingly virtuous exterior and false pursuit of purity hid a dark and perverse spirit. Perhaps the job struggle you face is terrible, but the limping hopes you carry are heavier still. Maybe the place you hoped to be in life that would be the answer to your prayers, the comfort to your soul and the solace for your heart has turned out to be a great deal of really hard work and an unexpected burden to bear. You may lose the person, the position or place and be forced to give up or radically realign your dreams, hopes and desires.
You are not alone.
If you glance around, you will see other people near you wearied by the storms of reality. Everyone has damaged dreams; no one is exempt. They, like you, find themselves on their knees, sifting through the debris, asking hard questions and grieving. As you sort through the damage, you will discover some treasures untouched by the rains and winds. Those closest to you, those secret-sharers with whom you bare your life, they still remain. You dig a little deeper and you find that some of your hopes and dreams are still very much alive. They may be scratched up a little, maybe they could use some drying off or cleaning up, but rest assured, they still live…
And so do you.
As long as there is breath, there is hope.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” -Proverbs 13:12