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All human beings have dreams and precious plans for themselves. It’s an optimistic part of our God-given nature and a sign of good mental health. Maybe you have a unique talent and want to take it to the big stage to share it. Perhaps you want the top job in your organization, a role of lasting impact. Or maybe your dream is to have a family, raising your children in a connected and loving home.

It can be dreadful when our dreams don’t happen. Sometimes our most cherished dreams seem so close, only to be pulled from under our feet, often inexplicably. Our artistic talents aren’t recognized, the coveted job doesn’t work out, and those wished-for children never come. The dream that once pushed you so much evolves into an agonizing reminder of heartbreak and failure.

However, as Christians, should we grieve that dream? The short answer is yes; it’s essential and part of the healing process. It also helps us make room for God’s perfect life plan. After you grieve, a new day will come to pass. All you have to do is communicate with the Lord and ask Him to show you your exciting and new possibilities. Here are some things to consider when thinking about our unfulfilled dreams.

We have a plan, but so does God.

It’s helpful to realize that while you have dreams and plans, feeling like the primary architect of your life, another architect doesn’t make mistakes. This architect builds something pleasing to Him and good for us if we’re patient and trusting. When our dreams fade, we should turn to the Lord to express our sadness and ask Him for a new direction and peace.

For example, you could have a family friend who dreamed and hoped for something simple, a loving family. Unfortunately, her husband cheated in their marriage, and her children became distant. She felt her dream was shattered and couldn’t fix it, watching it slip away. Then, she became a Christian. Her family situation may have been sad, but she learned that she could do her best every day, and God loved her completely.

God knew her situation, and she found rest in His grace and mercy. She focused her thoughts on Him and zoned in on the parts of her life that she was happy with, like her friends, job and church community. Her attitude change amazed everyone, and she became proof that God’s love is the most important thing in life. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has a plan to help us prosper and give us a future and hope.

Others still love you if your dreams don’t work out.

Your dream is precious to you, but remember that it doesn’t define you. Bitterness is a familiar feeling when we see doors close, reminding us that we are more than our dreams. We are children of God who doesn’t base His love on our accomplishments but on our spirit and eternal soul that He created. Remember that God loves us when we are broken and failing. When you have God’s mercy and love, you’re blessed.

Bitterness typically recedes when we remember God’s unwavering, intimate love for us in good and bad times. Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us of the Lord’s love, saying that God loves us with everlasting love. It would be best if you also remembered that you’re friends and loved ones love you because of who you are, not because you’re a “success” defined by the world. Some people keep their disappointment bottled up, but it can be helpful to release your grief by sharing it with God and those who care about you. They might surprise you with their perspective on the situation, telling you about accomplishments and possibilities you didn’t notice.

For example, imagine you invited your parents to a track and field day at school, confident that you would win your event. You practiced every chance you could, and it seemed destined that you would win the race. You dreamed about the expression on your parents’ faces and were so happy that they’d taken off from their busy jobs to see you race and win. However, you didn’t win and almost placed last. That dream of winning was replaced with disappointment, pain, and embarrassment. However, your parents wait for you at the finish line, telling you how proud they are of you. At that moment, your parents highlighted your accomplishment instead of your failure, which is what love does.

Something better is coming.

As we grieve our unfulfilled dreams, we should remember that we don’t know the future, so we can’t know God’s plan for us. God lets that door close like a devoted parent who says “no” for their child’s good. He is all-powerful, so it would happen if He wanted us to have that dream. However, since it isn’t happening, God has a different plan that fulfills our destiny and maybe the fate of others. For example, some loving couples who deal with infertility issues go on to adopt children. God knows that the child and the parents are fulfilled.

We should celebrate closed doors once we grieve our lost dreams because God shows His loving care for us with a fence of protection. God is active in our lives, so we must give Him thanks. Another hopeful thought to hold on to is, what if the dream isn’t dead? Maybe God is letting it simmer for a little longer and will permit it in the future. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there’s a time and season for everything.

We can’t see our future the way God sees it, but if we put our love for Him over our earthly dreams and trust Him, He will take the clay of our dreams and mold it into a beautiful masterpiece. God sent His son to walk among us and experience emotions like loss and sadness. Who better to understand your grief and help you move past it than Him? When you want to grieve your dreams, remember that God’s plan is better than anything we could come up with.

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