How Christians can fulfill their dreams
“I am sorry, you did not get a dance scholarship,” my dance teacher said gently.
In my heart, I knew that I was not a good enough dancer to move up to the scholarship level, but I still felt like I had been hit by a mack truck. I took a last look around the changing room at the ballet school. I started emptying out my locker and stuffed shoes, tights, and leotards into my big duffle bag.
“Then I quit,” I said vehemently. My teacher was shocked. Her waif-like dancer's body stood back. Her usual grim facial expression changed to concern. It was the first time I had seen a softer side to my instructor.
"But you can do other forms of dance other than ballet...," My teacher faltered. If looks could kill, my scorching glance would have reduced her to ashes. I walked out of the studio never to return.
For most of my life, I had dreamed about becoming a dancer. I worked hard in many classes, and eventually attended a full-time professional training program. When I felt I was not getting anywhere, I applied for a scholarship long before I was ready for that level. I felt that I had run out of options, and decided to quit.
On the surface, I got on with my eighteen-year-old-life. I got a job in a mailroom until I could figure out what to do with my shattered life. Inside, I was lost and heart-broken. My life-long dream of becoming a ballet dancer was gone and a year of back-breaking work in the full time professional balllet training program was wasted. For the next year I was in agonizing emotional pain. I stopped listening to the classical music I loved. Then I dared to dream again - dreams of being married, a mother, and a writer.
When dreams are crushed
As someone who as had my dreams crushed, I wonder: what do contestants on reality shows like "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent" feel when judges criticize and mock them? Many people seem go into denial that the negative feedback could be true.
The contestants became angry at the judges for not seeing what they think is their talent. Their anger does not help them achieve their goals, however, unless they get a chance to appear on TV as a novelty laughingstock celebrity for five minutes of fame.
Sometimes dreams just don't work out. After I grieved my loss of the dream, I lamented the time I spent pursuing dance. Over the years, I realized that even though I did not become a dancer, I had other talents and new dreams to pursue.
God can use even the worst situation for our good, however. (Romans 8:28) My dance training for my good in many ways. I was physically fit and strong. The increased lung capacity helped me as a singer in various choirs and worship teams. The biggest surprise of all to me was the acceptance of worship dance in the church in recent years, and finally finding myself using all my training and talent to worship God with dance.
When one dream is over, another dream can begin that is more in synch with our passions and talents.
Preparing to achieve our dreams
Sometimes dreams are deferred for years, until God’s timing is right. In the meantime, we need to prepare ourselves for various possibilities. God gave us spiritual gifts to serve others for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).
On a show like "American Idol," it is easy to see the difference between people who dance around their room in their underwear singing to a karaoke machine and people who took singing lessons, put in many nights singing with a band, or took advantage of whatever singing opportunities are available – no matter what the personal cost was involved.
Doing the work that is needed
The pursuit of some dreams also takes a lot of training and practice, especially for reality performance shows like "So You Think You Can Dance." For other dreams, God equips us with the necessary skills to get the job done but we still need to be willing to get the training we need and work hard. God asks us to concentrate on good things that are worthy of praise and think about things that are honorable, right, pure, beautiful and respected (Philippians 4:8).
Everything we do flows from our heart, so we have to guard it from our own selfish motives and desires (Proverbs 4:23). Our motivation should be fulfilling our purpose in life, whatever that may be.
Our dreams need to be in line with talents, our anointing, and the will of God. God promises that if our delight is in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Dreaming big is fine - God will support dreams that are in line with His will.
Jesus told a parable about a nobleman who gave his servants some money before he left for a faraway country (Luke 19). When he came back, he rewarded the servants who invested the money and got a profit. One servant wrapped the money in a hankerchief, claiming that he was afraid of losing the money and suffering the consequences, as the master was a hard man. The nobleman condemned him and ordered that the money be taken from the servant.
Like the men in the parable who were given talents, God expects us to use and grow what He has given us. Many dreams require planning, training, self-sacrifice and hard work.
Sometimes friends, family and ministry leaders recognize our abilities and encourage us to start dreaming. They can also give honest feedback on the feasibility of our dreams. If more "American Idol" contestants sought honest constructive criticism beforehand, the audition process would be less excruciating for viewers.
The prophet Nehemiah’s dream
The prophet Nehemiah dreamed of rebuilding Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by invaders (see the book of Nehemiah in the Bible). He prayed to God about his plan. He was so downcast about the destroyed city, that he looked sad in front of the king when he acted as the king's cupbearer. This was a big no-no, The king only wanted happy campers around him. When the king noticed his sadness, Nehemiah was afraid.
Nehemiah shared his dream with the king, putting his life at risk. Sometimes dreams require us to step way out of our comfort zone and even step into danger. In this case, Nehemiah’s efforts paid off. The king gave Nehemiah the paperwork and support he needed to realize our dream. He was able to return to the Holy Land and realize his dream of reconstructing his beloved Jerusalem.
Nehemiah and other dedicated Israelites started to rebuild the walls of the city and refused to be deterred by angry critics who mocked him and put down his efforts. He prayed to God and asked Him to handle the opposition while he continued to get the job done.
Some dreams require us to hang in there and weather some storms and opposition. Let us preservere and dare to dream.
© 2013 Carola Finch