What To Do When Your Dreams Don’t Come True

What To Do When Your Dreams Don’t Come True

They say that wandering eyes are ready to land on your heart’s desire,

and any mom knows that browsing the aisles with kids during the Christmas season is a guarantee that their little hearts will be set on some temporal toy they suddenly see and can’t live without.

They didn’t even know it existed until Walmart displayed it in all its glory. “No, we don’t need a Giant Egg Surprise, Ryan.” But, oh, now they think they do.

When toddlers desire a toy, they have several in-the-moment tactics for attainment that all start out looking innocent:  “Please, mom?Pleeasse?” they ask sweetly.

When you remain unconvinced that the $40 piece of plastic with nobody-knows-what’s-inside is a good use of money, they dig in deeper, and the chase begins: asking becomes begging, then whining, then questioning, then convincing, and finally…well, the true nature of what’s going on inside their tiny worshipping heart emerges as they rage in a tantrum.


Desire fed becomes a demand chased, and the pursuit is on. The Walmart aisle has become a shrine, and a tiny worship service is happening. It won’t end until the toddler is sure that the coveted prize is in the carriage coming home with them.

And we’re not that much different than our children during the holidays except our tastes are more refined. I don’t want a Ryan’s Toy Review Egg, I want a Magnolia Home Tablescape or perfectly behaved children, or a Hallmark love story, or the list can go on and on…

It’s the holiday season, ladies, and the layers of added responsibility and expectations can often unearth some of the hidden idols we may not know we’re serving.

I know we won’t demand plastic toys, but our idol-making factory is up and running daily, so we need to be sure we’re not operating under the same self-centered mode as our toddler in the toy aisle. We need to see through the deceit in our own heart that says “I must have it”, “I deserve better” and “I will get it.”

  • We believe that if I could just have THAT _________(fill in the blank), then life would have meaning.
  • Or if I could just change THAT ___________(fill in the blank) then all would be well.
  • If MY kids would just listen, I’d be happy, so I’ll become drill sargeant mom until they do what I want.
  • If MY husband weren’t so passive, I’d feel loved so I’ll withhold love from him until he shapes up.
  • If I had THAT opportunity, I would feel fulfilled, so I’ll step over that person to get it.
  • If MY circumstances were different, I’d be more ____________.

We believe the lies we’ve stored up in our hearts and feast on them: I deserve this. I need this. It’s worth all the work. It’s worth losing all for.  I should have had that. I’ve earned this. If only I had this…I’ve worked hard so this is my due…

We start the cycle of I desire-I deserve-I demand that never takes us anywhere except into misery.

But we don’t have to be this way because in Christ, we have all that we need for life and godliness. The gospel doesn’t leave us unchanged, thank God.

Let’s treasure Christ as we go into this holiday season. Let’s treasure Him enough to pursue what He loves and to live as He lived.

If Christ is central, we’ll stop scanning the “aisles” of social media, stores, relationships, worldliness, materialism looking for what we think will make us “happy” and we’ll stop demanding that people live by our rules because we’re so joyfully enraptured by knowing Christ and enjoying His goodness and grace.

But if God isn’t your #1 pursuit and hasn’t made you happy and holy, then that thing, that position, that invitation, or that change in unpleasant circumstances won’t fulfill you either.

The sooner we realize that what we worship is driving our actions and reactions, the better off we’ll be able to decipher if we’re living according to God’s truth or according to the god of our own making.

So when you’re dreaming of something God has not allowed, and when God says no to the toys we think will make us happy, what do you do with that desire that is now unrealized?

When your dreams don’t come true, see it as a mercy from His hand. 

What if God is using that lack re-make you? Soften your rough edges? Humble you? Make you fit for service?

What if God is withholding it from you because He knows it’s not good for you and that it will feed your pride instead of your humility and dependence on Him?

The KINDNESS of God’s denial to you is for your own good and His glory.

This means we can stop blaming our husband, kids, family, country, church, community.

It’s not them, it’s Him because all things are under His authority and He does what is right and good. (On the flip side, people are not big enough to thwart God’s plans for you. Remember that. They cannot shut a door that God wants open for you. )

And when your dreams don’t come true,  it’s all good because the sooner we stop chasing plastic idols,

the sooner we open our empty hands up for God to fill as He sees fit,

the sooner we’ll find our joy in His presence and His sufficiency in our sorrow.

And when we worship God wholly and fully and finally– circumstances don’t matter because we have what our soul desires. Then we can then respond graciously to the unkind and unfair circumstances in life because nothing we truly crave is being withheld when we have all and all in Christ.


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