She told me I was selfish to try to be a writer.
My mother said other people can afford to go off to become journalists, but God gave me gifts for a reason. Not so I could do whatever I wanted. Writing was good hobby, she said, but it doesn’t pay the bills or move us out of our low-income housing.
So I shoved my applications to Boston U and Columbia into the garbage can. I applied to become a computer science and engineering major and stayed close to home. I never told anyone about my broken dreams because it always felt like I was being ungrateful for the opportunities I was given to get an education.
I let go of my dream of becoming a writer. I lived separated from my heart.
I eventually found healing, but only after I took the painful path to re-awaken the dreams I tried to deny my whole life.
Maybe you too have given up on the dreams you felt called to when you were younger. Maybe you’re discouraged and think it just isn’t meant to be. I had to learn the hard way that God-given dreams are worth pursuing, even when it’s difficult.
Here are a few things to do when your dreams stall.
Feed Your Soul Instead of Ignoring it.
We often think of the action-figure Jesus, but the Bible tells us, “Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16).
Jesus took time to rest because nurturing His soul with His Father was more important than what He could do.
We need spiritual whitespace to feed our dreams.
Whitespace is the space on a page left unmarked in the world of art and design. Without whitespace, a composition goes from being fine art to commercialization.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s poeima — poetry translated as “workmanship”—created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”
Are our lives more like art or cluttered advertisement?
Make Rest Your Ambition
Rest sounds inactive, doesn’t it? I was surprised to find that rest is one of only three ambitions that God explicitly calls out in the Bible. Rest is as important as preaching the gospel and pleasing God (Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9).
We urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet (restful) life (1 Thessalonians 4:10–11).
Downtime puts us in touch with our passion instead of numbing ourselves by managing our inboxes, Facebook updates, TV or achievement-oriented productivity.
Rest rejuvenates our dreams with creativity, deep relationships and adventure.
Cast Your Net On The Other Side
It’s too late, you tell yourself. You’ve moved on and gained strength by helping others. But Jesus sees the nets you’ve left.
Jesus says, “Cast the net on the [other] side of the boat and you will find a catch” (John 21:6).
Jesus sees the empty nets. Put out where it is deeper and let down your nets.
It’s not too late. Try something radically different. Maybe even the opposite direction you’ve been heading.
Confide in God.
It’s soul wearying to constantly hide your dreams. To deny our desires and the pain of loss. We feel guilty for not moving on and beat ourselves for not being thankful.
Instead, Jesus whispers,“Come to me, all those who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Confide in God about how you really feel. Make space to ask the hard questions. When your soul is free to be real, you can receive the comfort and strength from God to dream again.
Journey To Find the Open Door
You’re ready to give up. But no matter how long the journey or how broken you feel your story has become, none of it can change who God made you to be.
The door to your dreams God has intended for you can never be lost, closed or destroyed by anyone or anything.
“I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelations 3:8).
Sometimes, it’s easy to give yourself away when you no longer carry any hope for the dreams you once held.
Sometimes it takes more faith to revisit dreams that have stalled than asking for faith to forget about them.
I went on to finish my book and find my voice. I hope you will take the journey to recover yours with God too.
Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in 2014.
is author of the 40day soul detox Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Klove, Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons.