When Achieving Your Dreams Doesn’t Make You Happy

For the last three years, I dreamed about being a missionary in the Dominican Republic. I took a short-term trip to DR in the spring of 2014 and came alive while living in a safe house for at-risk/rescued girls, entering into an ever-changing, intense, battlefield environment.

When I returned to the states, I jumped back into school and began praying that the Lord would bring me back to that little Caribbean country. A little more than a year after my first visit, my plans came together and I bought a one-way plane ticket to DR. “This is it!” I thought, “This is my dream! This is what I have been praying for over these years. The Lord has truly answered my prayers.”

Fast-forward a few months into my life in the Dominican Republic, and one thing is for sure: living out this dream of mine feels so different than what I ever expected. I have done the thing I never thought I would do—I’ve doubted whether this truly is what God wants for my life.

Many of us have found ourselves in these moments of utter confusion and panic. Perhaps after years of waiting, God finally brings together what you’ve been praying and believing Him for. But once you finally get there, you’re still waiting to feel that peace and confirmation that this is indeed all part of His plan.

In deeper examining my feelings, frustrations and overall foggy focus, I believe there is something God wants to say to all of us when we are asking ourselves, “If this is what I dreamed of all along, why am I feeling like I’ve been taken off course?”

Whether you just got married to the love of your life, began attending the college you never thought you would get into, or finally received breakthrough in an area of your life in regards to career or creative endeavors but now it all feels off and unfulfilling, God has a perspective for us that will bring to light what is being hidden by our darkened misconceptions and disheartened emotions.

Four truths encourage me when I find myself in this time of questioning.

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your path straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Even with the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, we must come to the Lord and seek redirection that our minds might be renewed (Romans 12:2). Scripture says that we already have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and by this we can discern spiritually what the Lord is speaking and teaching us. When we find ourselves in this place of discontentment and misunderstanding, we need to come humbly and listen for His voice in order to receive instruction and wisdom.

Surely, there is so much we cannot see that He can, but that doesn’t mean the Lord is choosing to leave us in the dark. Within this verse lies a promise: that in submitting and trusting the Lord in where He has brought us, we will begin to have a greater peace and awareness of what He has commissioned us to do.

Remember Who You Are

I believe many of us fall into this pit of dissolution even though we’re “living our dream” because we are in need of a serious identity check.

Things that are worthwhile are also difficult. Even when we’re pursuing what we feel like God is calling us to, it’s easy to get discouraged by how hard it is. But we can’t let our shortcomings and areas for growth take away from who God says we are and the calling He has placed on our lives. The Holy Spirit will show up and communicate, working in ways that only He can.

See Also

We have such a great assurance as Christians. If we truly live as children of God, believing that when the Father sees us, He sees His son, our security in Him can never be shattered. When we try to find our identity what we are doing, who we are know or the talents/skills/gifts we have, we will always come up empty and discouraged. None of those things define who we are or dictate whether we have the ability to continue pursuing our dreams. Nobody can disqualify us, not even ourselves.

When We Are Weak, We Are Strong

This can be one of the hardest things to accept as Christians, because as humans, we don’t want to see ourselves as incapable or in need. But the fact is that God has a completely different view of weakness than what the world has given us. The beautiful thing about our weakness is that we have complete access to the power, presence, authority and Spirit of God in every moment, without fail.

As I have acknowledged that yes, I feel weak, overwhelmed and dried up I’m able to finally acknowledge that I can’t do it, any of it, without the Holy Spirit as my lead and guide.

Do Not Lose Heart

In Galatians, Paul shares, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from his flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And now let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

In this passage, we are shown that if our work is by the Spirit, it has eternal significance, even if we can’t always see the immediate results. It’s true that our dreams may not be what we expected them to be, but as we move forward in what God has led us to, He will use us.

Adjustments are normal, change takes time and what we’ve hoped for isn’t always what it seemed before we got there. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t come from the Father’s hands. Don’t lose heart in what you’ve dreamed of and where the Lord has brought you. He will bring correction and redirection as well as understanding while following Him in this new season and adventure.

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