Dreams can be difficult.
They aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, or to keep my alliteration going, dandelions and daffodils.
As much as we’ve talked about chasing our dreams, I really hope I haven’t painted a romanticized picture of what that looks like. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Often we look longingly at people who have achieved dreams without seeing what it took to get there.
Like we discussed in Doing the Dream, accomplishing our dreams can be grueling work. But even beyond that our dreams may demand difficult decisions.
A few months ago I wrestled with this.
I had been invited to speak at a women’s conference in California. The planning began more than a year out. My husband agreed with my desire to participate. I accepted the invitation and my excitement mounted with every detail we hashed out via Skype over four time zones and on two continents. Even my kids were fired up for me. I purchased plane tickets, prayed for the planning and the attendees, and practiced every chance I got. I auditioned countless outfits. I was finally getting the chance to do what I’d been dreaming of for years.
Then about a month before the conference, we received the schedule for my son’s confirmation classes and discovered his first communion was the same weekend.
I was devastated.
My husband and I deliberated. We prayed. We consulted our Pastor. We weighed the options. Finally we talked with our son. By the grace of God he wasn’t nearly as torn up about it as I was. That made this mama’s heart proud (and a little wounded, too).
I went to California carrying a message of hope. It was beautiful to see the dream God gave me come to life. To watch Him move in their hearts. To feel Him move in mine. I helped the women create a tangible reminder of what God had already accomplished in their lives. I missed my family terribly and couldn’t help but shed a few tears when I knew my son was participating in an age old sacrament for the first time.
It’s too soon to tell if this event will eventually drive my son into counseling, but I believe we made the right decision. Even though it was hard. And my son learned about responsibility and sacrificial service.
Sometimes we run into choices that feel crippling:
A basketball game with my boys or writing the next chapter.
A long run or Saturday morning cartoons with the kids.
Reading research material or children’s books.
Forking over funds for a training course or saving for college.
You get the idea. Whatever your dream is, there are things you’ll have to do to achieve it and choices you’ll have to make in its pursuit. Here are five steps I use to work through tough decisions.
Pray for wisdom.
God’s Word promises to fill us with it. He will be faithful to lead and guide us when we commit to following Him. Sometimes God will give you an option you hadn’t yet considered.
This is one of my favorite phrases. Ask yourself why you want to do something or why you would choose not to. Honestly assess your motivation against Scripture.
Talk it out.
Have a conversation with all parties affected. Consult a trusted advisor. You may be surprised at what God has laid on the heart of someone else. Sharing your struggles not only deepens your connection with those involved, but helps them understand your motives, and potentially softens the blow of disappointment.
Make a decision.
At some point, you just have to choose. Dreams aren’t accomplished by wringing the hands. We have to decide one way or the other and then get back to doing the dream in light of our decision.
Pray for peace.
Once you’ve decided, ask God to fill you with His peace. If He doesn’t, you might need to start the process over again.
God uses hard decisions to draw us closer to Him, to remind us we can do nothing apart from Him, and in some cases to prepare us to stand firm when faced with greater challenges.
Not all of the answers will be obvious. Occasionally they may seem counterintuitive. Sometimes we’ll choose the dream. Other days different priorities will rule. We might miss out on good things. Or we may choose to be present for those but squeeze in work late at night or early in the morning. Remember, God-given dreams will never require us to abdicate responsibilities He has already given us. But that might not always look like we expect. I can’t choose for you. I’ve struggled myself. All I can do is remind you to include God in your decision-making process.
When dreams demand hard decisions pray, mine your motives, talk it out, decide, then pray again.
Don’t miss the other great posts in this series:
And coming Soon:
Living the Dream
When the Dream is Daunting
Dare to Dream Again
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.