You don’t have to move to a new country, like we did, to recover from your broken dream. As I reflect on our journey of recovery, I see it had four practical elements that can be experienced in any number of ways:
1. Get Some Rest
If you’ve experienced a broken dream, you may well be exhausted, having spent considerable energy trying to attain what you desperately wanted. If you’re anything like us, you may need some deep, restorative rest. Try planning some weekend sleep-ins and leisurely breakfasts, gentle walks in the countryside, or perhaps a reduced workload at the office. Whatever truly relaxes you, have a season of intentionally enjoying more of it.
2. Enjoy Some Recreation
People with broken dreams couldn’t create what they wanted to and so need to create something else. Recreation literally means “re-creation.” What helps you to re-create joy and energy? For me, this meant getting back into photography—a hobby I’d neglected amongst the stresses of our wilderness journey years. You could think about rediscovering a pastime like that, joining a gym, learning a musical instrument, or starting a new project like renovating a room or writing a book.
3. Find Renewal
By reading this booklet, you’ve already begun the third part of the recovery process, which is to find spiritual renewal. As we’ve explored, a broken dream can rock your sense of perspective, raise questions about the meaning of your life, and raise doubts about the goodness of God. After some rest and recreation, you may be ready to start addressing some of these questions more intentionally by finding a spiritual mentor, seeing a Christian counselor, reading some good books, or experimenting with a guided retreat. Our experience has been that those who walk with God through the wilderness and mine their suffering for its lessons, gain a more mature faith as a result.
4. Try Some Reinvention
When a dream dies, a little part of you does too, as you can’t become the person you’ve wanted to become. A certain degree of reinvention is needed. Your primary identity is as a child of God and this gives you freedom to explore other aspects of who you are and even experiment with a new identity. Ask yourself:
Who am I deep down? Think about your personality and key relationships, especially to family and friends. Have you neglected an aspect of your personality you’d like to renew? Is it time to reinvest energy in being a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, son, friend, or neighbor?
What other dreams could I explore? Is there a career, hobby, or dream you’ve never had the time or opportunity to pursue? Perhaps now is the time to do so.
How can the lessons from my suffering be recycled to help others? You don’t need to become a counselor, but the new “you” God is making will almost certainly include using your God-given talents and wilderness wisdom to bring hope to others.
So perhaps you long to be married but are still single, or your chosen career has never taken off. Maybe a crushing diagnosis shattered the dreams you held for your loved one, or the whirlwind romance has ended in divorce. Whatever the path that has led to your wilderness, you feel sadness, a sense of unfairness, even jealousy towards those who have what you want, and anger towards the God who has denied your request.
The good news is that you can start again after a broken dream. In fact, God may be doing His greatest work in you through this wilderness journey: revealing what’s in your heart, and revealing His faithfulness through all the sadness and mistrust; providing for you in ways you’ve missed or are yet to see; helping you discover your deepest, truest identity as His child; and transitioning you to become someone new, recycling all you’ve been through into meaningful service to others.
Has the new life Merryn and I begun filled the void of not having a child? Of course not. Do we still have days when we wish things were different? Of course we do. There are still occasional tears. And there probably will be for you over your own broken dream.
But we have been able to start again and experience some things we never would have dreamed of, following the One who turned His own crucifixion into a mission field.
God doesn’t end every story with a miracle. But He does end a few with a surprise.
He can turn our suffering into something beautiful.
Thank you very much for sharing your story and feelings so truthfully. I'm deeply touched. Although I've never had to go through an experience exactly like yours, I am HUGELY encouraged by your faith, despite everything. I will keep trying. Thanks again!
Your story reminded me of where I was wandering in the desert 8 years ago... a new widow, loss of home, business failed, and clinical breakdown. I moved to be closer to my children 500+ miles away from where I grew up... no job, no church, no friends. Over the years God has provided me with a deeper relationship with all my family, a wonderful loving church family, a job working with children. Also, He’s given me a home that’s become a women’s ministry gathering home, and a deeper relationship with my best friend Jesus. I still have struggles, because I live here on earth, but knowing my God is my provision helps me along the path He has purposed for me. Thank you so very much for sharing your story, that renews the hope in all of our hearts.