The feeling of shame started in my cheeks. It quickly washed down my body as his laughter grew. Even my legs tingled with it.
“That’s stupid. Ridiculous!” he gasped. I could barely understand him, he was laughing so hard. Eventually, his mirth started dying down and I could finally excuse myself. He was still chuckling and shaking his head as I slunk out of his top floor executive office.
As his door grew blessedly smaller behind me, mortification stayed hot on my heels. With each step, I sank deeper into a pit of shame. And I’d stay trapped there for several years to come.
Every day of those years, I grew more and more miserable in a job I hated. And every day of those years, I let my shame sidetrack me from my God-given dreams.
The One Lie That’s Sidetracking You
That was my most memorable performance review meeting. My boss had spent most of that time reprimanding me for my lack of the killer instinct that he wanted on his team. His final exasperated question was, “If you could do anything, what would it be?”
I blanked on an acceptable corporate reply, so I panicked. And in a panicked moment of raw honesty — unusual in this particular corporate setting — I blurted out my long-buried and oldest dream: to travel extensively and live in faraway places.
For countless seconds, my boss stared at me in disbelief. Then he burst into scornful laughter, snidely amused at my most precious secret. I couldn’t blame him, though. Even I thought it was impractical and stupid. Probably even selfish, because who could benefit from that dream except me? Which was why I’d buried it years before and pursued a corporate career instead.
Maybe you’ve been there, or you’re there now. Maybe you’ve abandoned a precious dream. Buried it under shame brought on by others’ judgment about its worthiness.
Unfortunately, you’re staying trapped in your shame because of one simple lie: That your dreams should look like everyone else’s.
So your dream now lives in the dark. Because you’ve bought the lie that there’s only one path to happiness, success, and fulfillment.
The Truth That Will Redeem Your God-Given Dream
But what if they’re all wrong and you’ve been misled all this time?
So what if your dream isn’t typical or traditional? That doesn’t mean it’s stupid. What if God gave you that dream so He can magnify His glory? What if He always has huge plans for that dream? Even if you can’t see His purpose in it yet.
What if you stop believing that one lie? And what if you go after the vision God’s given you for your life?
Tantalizing thought, isn’t it? So let’s dig a little deeper.
New Hope For Your God-Given Dreams
I was reading Jeremiah 29 when a passage struck me as pretty parallel to my life. Perhaps it mirrors yours, too.
We know God’s audacious vision for His chosen people: to bless all nations of the Earth through them. But for most of its history throughout the Old Testament, Israel had rebelled against God. And for all of that time, God had warned the nation about the consequences of its rebellion. Now, those consequences had finally materialized. Babylon had conquered Israel and God’s people were in exile.
Surely, God’s vision for His people was dead. Surely, it must be too late.
Just like it must be too late for your dream. Even if you dig it out from under that treacherous lie, and from under your shame.
But although God’s promised judgment was unfolding, there was still hope for Israel. And there’s still hope for you and your dream.
1. God’s Grace Abounds
For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:10-11
Maybe, like me, you wandered away from God’s plan for you into a self-imposed exile. All because of shame. Because you believed that one lie.
But God is gracious to welcome you home to Him again. And He still has plans for that dream He gave you.
2. Jesus Redeems It All
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:12-13
Up until now, you’ve been captive to people-pleasing and self-dependence. Ouch, right? But let’s be totally honest so you can get back to God’s business.
You abandoned your God-given dream and went into exile because you were more concerned about people’s opinions than you were about God’s. And once you went there, you decided to rely on yourself and stop trusting Him.
Good news, though. When you turn back to God, you find true relationship with Him through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. And when Christ redeems you, He also redeems your buried dream for the Father’s plan.
3. Your Hope-Filled Future
I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.Jeremiah 29:14
Once you turn back to God, He promises to restore you, which He does through the power of the Holy Spirit. So now your future is filled with hope because of His goodness.
And those fortunes He mentions? They include the dream you buried under your shame.
How To Hang Onto Your God-Given Dream
But as instructive as verses 10-14 are, it’s Jeremiah 29:8-9 that really gets me:
For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.Jeremiah 29:8-9
It’s very easy to miss. But do you see the warning there?
God literally tells you not to get sidetracked from His plans for you by following other people’s dreams.
Which is exactly what caused you to abandon your God-given dream and bury it under shame in the first place.
This is why I’ve gotta ask some tough questions. Hope for resurrecting your dream lies in your answers. So don’t shy away from them. Don’t keep buying the lie that your God-given dream is unrealistic or inferior to those the world says you’re supposed to have.
So take a deep breath. Ready? Here goes:
- What God-given dream have you buried? Stuffed deep into a lockbox, which you slammed shut, then threw away the key. After which you dug a hole so deep for it that you almost convinced yourself that it never existed.
- What gift aren’t you sharing with the world because of the lie that your dream is stupid and has no value?
- What’s your community or the world missing because you let the scoffers shame you into silence?
- What possibilities can become certainties, if you dig your dream out from under your shame and release it into the world?
- What amazing things our wonder-working God can do with those impossible dreams He’s given you?
If only you’ll stop believing that awful lie and let go of your shame.
Don’t Stay Sidetracked From Your God-Given Dream
It’s almost ten years on from that awful, unforgettable meeting in my ex-boss’ high-rise office. And guess what? I live smack in the middle of the same dream over which he laughed me out of his office. Not because I defiantly decided to show him. Oh, no, my profound shame wouldn’t let me do that.
I live my dream now because I finally stopped believing the lie that the path to my joy and fulfillment lies in everyone else’s dreams.
Almost ten years on from that humiliating experience, it’s laughably obvious now that the ridiculous thing wasn’t my dream. It was going after a life that God never meant for me in the first place.
Now I know the joy that comes with grabbing hold of His promised hope and future for me. The joy from trusting His vision for my life over others’ expectations. And you know what? With prayer and faith in God, I’ll never bury my dreams again.