Part 2: Recovering from Broken Dreams — Practical Steps

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.  Proverbs 13:12

Last week I outlined the meaning of this powerful proverb.  This week I lay out two practical steps you can take to recover from broken dreams.

Step One:  Be honest and embrace sadness.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  Since you are not a robot and you have a heart; expect it to hurt when dreams are broken.  You are no different from anybody else.  Don’t equate bravery to denial of real pain. It requires courage to admit, even to yourself, your hurt.  Denial causes unnecessary damage — like running on a fractured bone, it aggravates the injury and prolongs the recovery. Healing requires admitting your hurt and then addressing the pain.

inside-out-joy-sadnessTears reflect an honest assessment of what has been lost.  We try to hold back tears because we believe they make us weak.  But the truth is tears have a power — they cleanse away false shame, release unresolved anger, and (when shed before God or in community) open us to outside support.  Inside Out, the Summer 2015 blockbusterillustrates the redeeming power of sadness very effectively.

Creating space to be honest about pain, and grieving broken dreams is necessary to a healthy recovery.  Journal, pray, talk it out with a friend/family member or consider meeting with a qualified counselor.  Real sadness (not self-pity nor self-loathing) can open a door for healing.

Step Two: Be courageous and embrace a new dream.

“A desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”  When dreams come true it feels like we are back in the Garden of Eden, where the “tree of life” stood.  Life is as it should be — vibrant and full.

But, broken dreams make you feel like life will never be full again.  Heartsickness makes everything look dim and gray.  Feelings of alienation set in as everyone else goes about their normal business while your world falls apart.  Feeling lost, afraid and disoriented — it’s difficult to process even simple decisions.

Like someone lost at sea, you must keep your head about you.  Of course you thirst for relief.   But cynicism is salt water.  You must not partake.  Courage will require you to embrace a new dream — that somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary, all things can be renewed.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the prime example that God works through broken dreams to establish new and better dreams.  As the promised Messiah, people expected Jesus to throw off the Roman yolk and restore Israel’s national sovereignty.  The disciples devoted years of their lives to see patriotic dreams fulfilled in their day.  Any reasonable person present at Calvary knew the disciples’ political ambitions were irreparably broken.  The Romans were experts at crushing the dreams of anyone who threatened them.  They’d done it thousands of times before.  None of the disciples, except John, had the fortitude to stay and watch Jesus die on the cross.  They all scattered — feeling lost, afraid, disoriented and disillusioned by a failed revolution.

But the revolution was not over, only transformed.  Unimaginable things were about to happen.  The disciples’ broken dream of political freedom was remade into a new and better dream of total freedom — not merely from a temporary enemy (Rome) but from eternal enemies (sin, death, and Satan).  For the new dream to be realized, the old dream had to be broken — it was simply too small.

When recovering from a broken dream, we doubt God’s goodness. It’s devastating when God allows our dreams, especially the really good ones, to be put to death.  However, God is not finished.  He is working, even now, to recover broken dreams.  He uses the broken pieces, to make something new and beautiful — just as He’s done through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Embracing new dreams takes courage.  Don’t give up like Judas did.  He failed to see Jesus’ better dream simply because he surrendered to cynicism and despair before the dream had a chance to become reality.  It doesn’t require great faith to see God’s better dream come to fruition.  It simply requires the courage to stick in there and wait for it… and then get on board!

2 thoughts on “Part 2: Recovering from Broken Dreams — Practical Steps

  1. Thanks for your honesty. Peggy, I am so sorry for your pain. I weep when I hear things like this. It is so sad and also maddening. I prayed for you and for your father. I pray his heart softens, so that he can admit his abuse and ask you for forgiveness. It’s never to late to work toward reconciliation. Please keep doors of communication open, if at all possible. I pray your heart might be free from shame (even the shame other family members may cast upon you) and that you might find the power to forgive. Jesus prayed for those who abused him. On the cross he said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. I pray (in this area of your life) you may personally experience Jesus’ power to forgive and the freedom that comes through it.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this article. It allowed me to shed some more healthy tears. My whole life has been struggles. I thought that by the time I was 60, it would all be good. I am trying to heal from molestation from my father. I held it in for 50 years. I am not talking to him at the present time. He was very abusive to me when we took a so called trip to Kansas in July. He called me pig lips and a fat ass. This from my father. Something happened, and I just burst. All of the hurt came out of me instantaneously. My family refuses to talk to me because my father is 88 years old. They think why now? Why not now? Why should I have to live with all of that anguish. I’m finally free. I do not base my emotions on the weaknesses of others anymore. I wish there was a way that I could reach out to all of the little girls that are told, “Don’t tell your mother”. He refuses to apologize to me. States that he is too old to go through this crap. God help me get through this hurdle. Love Peg

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