Blessings of Singleness #7: The Pain of Losing Dreams

Apologies for the lack of blog.  I haven’t been able to write because of the emotional, physical and spiritual preparation that goes into a 10 year high school reunion.  Fear not: good times were had by all.  It was the weirdest night ever.  First, because I am fairly certain I have never seen 79% of those people in my life.  Seriously.   Who were all those people?  And how come they all look so old?

In actuality it was kind of a wonderful time for me.  Surprisingly an encouraging reminder of how different I am than I once was.  And it’s prompting this blog because it illuminated to me another one of the painful blessings of singleness: the pain of watching as your plans for your life are cannibalized by time.

There was so much insecurity at the reunion that I could taste it.  There were so many people who were desperately ashamed that their lives hadn’t turned out according to the plan they had proclaimed in high school.  They tried to quiet this shame by campaigning for the things they have done well or by tearing down someone else who was absent.   They declared loudly how much they hated the very thought of those dreams that had once defined them, but despite the volume of their protests, their insecurity spoke louder.

And I understand.  I really do.  I have single friends who desperately want to have children, and each birthday seems to bring with it a wave of dream crushing hopelessness.   I watch their faces as other friends talk about how their 3rd child was a beat down simply because they were too old to be having children after 30.  Every off-the-cuff comment about the challenges of having children over a certain age is one more dig in the heart of the single who longs for a family.

I’ve felt this same pain in my own heart when a married friend reminds me that I can’t be too picky at my age.  I feel the stab of insecurity when I hear comments about aging bodies and I look at my own and wonder if I’ll get to share this life with anyone before I become a 90-year-old cat lady.

It’s hard.  It’s hard to let go of dreams.  It’s painful to see the details of life creep in and steal from you things that you were certain were secured.

And it reminds me of Ruth.  She’s a good kid.  And I can’t stop thinking about the way she walks away from everything that might give her security or comfort or worth or value and walks into a future that has no certainty or promise of earthly treasure.  And that reminds me of the call to follow Christ.  It reminds me of the death that we have to die in order to have life.

And thinking about Ruth and thinking about reunions reminds me of something I really hate about my job.  It’s maybe the thing I hate most about my job.

I watch women follow Jesus radically like Ruth did; I watch them walk out of lifestyles that are impossible to leave and I watch them dive into serving God with everything and I watch them look like they are running back to Bethlehem, turning their backs on Moab.

But as time passes I see them become frustrated with God; disappointed.  They’ve given him their lives, just like Ruth, but they haven’t seen their Boaz yet.  They left Moab, they came to Bethlehem, but now they are confused about why their dreams aren’t coming true.

And then I have the incredibly painful experience of watching compromise creep in.  God isn’t satisfying their dreams on their timeline so they find ways to make it happen for themselves.  They start dating a guy who may not be a crazy ‘Bible thumper’ but he goes to church, and besides – they don’t want to judge anybody, right?

They explain to me that they were never cut out of the ‘radical’ lifestyle.  They justify their decision to compromise on purity or in the work place or in the city because they can just feel God calling them to this person, this job, this location.

They not only buy the lie that they can love the world and still love God but they preach it to themselves and others in an attempt to muzzle the rumble of conviction inside.

And I think the reason I hate this part of my job is that it is unbelievably terrifying to me.  I’m not angry with these women.  I’m not scoffing at their choices.  I’m terrified.  I’m terrified because I get it.  I’m terrified that I’ll do the same. And more than anything I don’t want this to be me.  I don’t want to look like Ruth in one moment only to find that I was only following Jesus as a means to some other end.  I don’t want to look like I’m walking toward Bethlehem, having left everything that once defined me behind, only to look down and realize that I’m only walking this way because I think that the old gods I used to worship have moved into Bethlehem.  I can feel it inside of me.  I can feel the pain of lost dreams moving in me and luring and enticing me.  I can feel the pain of not getting want convincing me that I can take my dreams from the world in one hand as long as I just keep holding Jesus with the other.

I hear the same unoriginal lie in my ears that haunted Eve; the lie that I am somehow missing out by giving every piece of my heart and life to Jesus; the lie that Jesus is holding out on me.

You will waste the pain that comes from losing your dreams if you refuse to let the disappointment drive you like Ruth to let go of all those hopes and put your whole heart into God’s plan for your life, trusting Him to give you what is best.

If you refuse to do this you will eventually find a way to make your dreams happen for yourself, and miss the only thing that really offers you the peace, joy and security you seek in the first place.

And I want to urge you not to do that.  I want to urge you to turn to Jesus. Because I learned a lot at my reunion.

There are people who have met every timeline for their plans for their own lives. They got married when they wanted to and had babies when they wanted to.  And most of them couldn’t hide the fact that they’re still recklessly afraid and insecure.  They couldn’t hide the fact that they are dealing with the pain of what comes after you get your plan and still feel empty and alone sometimes at night.

And that’s why my high school reunion was so amazing.  It reminded me that I don’t want my dreams.  I really don’t.  I mean, I do.  I want a husband.  I want to get to teach God’s Word.  I want to write.  I want all these dreams.  But really I don’t.  At the bottom of my heart, I just want to be happy.  And I want to not be afraid.  And I want to be wanted.  And I want to be known.

This whole thing is so painful because somewhere along the way I began to believe that my dreams would save me.  We all did.  We began to believe that if we could just get that one thing we want we would be rescued from this gnawing sense of insufficiency inside of us.  We want our dreams because we think they must hold the answer to the nagging insecurity that makes most of us skip the reunion altogether.

But temporal dreams are too small to fill that gaping hole.  They’re just too small.  And those deep longings in our hearts are just so much bigger.  My heart won’t be satisfied by pleasure for 30 years.  It wants pleasure forevermore.  My heart won’t be satisfied by a love that fails 6 days out of 7.  My heart won’t even be satisfied by a love that fails 1 out of every 365 days.  My heart needs a love that will never fail.   My heart needs a love that will always pursue, always forgive, never forsake, always fight.

And that love is the only hope I have that I won’t trade my Jesus just so that I can have a better story at my 20 year high school reunion.  While everything in me is willing to exchange everything for nothing, I have Someone refusing to let me compromise.  I have Someone who has promised to fulfill my deepest dreams in every moment.

46 thoughts on “Blessings of Singleness #7: The Pain of Losing Dreams

  1. Wow! This is EXACTLY what I was telling a friend about tonight! (only you said it much more eloquently) Thank you for putting it into words. I want my dreams to come true, but ultimately I want to be happy. God started showing me when I was a kid that things and places do not make you happy. It’s funny to me that I did not see the connection until years later that He is the only One who can make us happy, but He is sovereign over me not realizing that for so long. 😉

    Thank you for being bold and vulnerable enough again to explain these deep parts of your heart to us, as I think these are things we probably all struggle with, to some extent…..and I don’t think we often know we struggle with something until we hear someone else describe their struggle first, and then we realize, “Oh yeah, I go through that, too!” Oh, let Jesus keep pointing us back to Himself like this….for too many times, I forget why I need Him until He reminds me of things like this.

  2. Great post, Fabs. Really encouraged me to let go of the world with my one hand and reach out for Jesus with both, and feel the assurance that He will never let me go and ALWAYS satisfy.

    Thanks for that.

    Keep writing and being honest. We all need it.

    DRG

  3. thanks for your transparency. seriously. i’m trying to pursue that life where He is enough. i never thought there would be temptation to quit. thanks for the reminder of those pleasures forevermore. those pleasures which won’t be dingy tomorrow or which i’ll become so accustomed to that they will never satisfy. He is worth it. all of it.

  4. Great, honest, true words! Your humility serves as a great example. There is so much of this truth that applies to so many parts of each of our lives.

    Thanks Fabs!

    1. Lord,
      I lift Libby up to You. I pray that in the realization of compromise, she realizes You can redeem anything we do. Help Libby to fall in love with You so she can see that You make beauty from ashes and can turn her mourning into joy, If only she will give it to You. Fill her with an outpouring of your presence. You are so good, God. Thank you for all You do!

      In Jesus’ name, amen.

  5. Oh Fabs, you brought tears to my eyes! I so relate to this blog! In the last two years, or maybe more, God has been tearing down my dreams because, in reality, they aren’t just innocent dreams, they are my idols. The biggest dream I have ever had has been to marry and have/adopt several children. This year God has been bringing me through a season of mourning for my dying dreams. Most of my friends tell me not to worry, I still have plenty of time to get married. But that’s not the point. I feel that God is CALLING me to singleness. Maybe forever or maybe just for a while. I don’t know. But I do know that God wants all of me and I’ve never really given Him everything. Thank you so much for challenging me to give Him everything! You have blessed me!

  6. First of all, thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone in my fight against the flesh! I want to encourage you as well, that you are not alone either! 🙂
    Second of all, thanks for writing so beautifully for the sake of the Kingdom!
    Blessings to you!

  7. What a blessing you blog was to me. Thanks for the courage to share your heart honestly. It is encouraging to know that we are not along. God used your words to minister to me today.

  8. What a blessing your blog was to me. Thanks for the courage to share your heart honestly. It is encouraging to know that we are not alone. God used your words to minister to me today.

  9. “…i don’t want…to find that I was only following Jesus as a means to some other end…[to] realize that I’m only walking this way because I think that the old gods I used to worship have moved into Bethlehem.” God is so gracious to show us the contents of our hearts so that this will not happen (Deut 8:2-3)! I was thinking today about how Deut. 8 sums up so many phases of our lives, either we are (1) in the midst of a trial, questioning if obedience is worth it; or we are (2) enjoying the great things God has given to us, thinking that we achieved those great things for ourselves and forgetting Him. God forbid that we should disobey or forget Him, pre- or post-husband!

    I appreciate you, Fabs! Keep giving Jesus every piece of you!

  10. I’m no theologian, but I think my biggest problem is that I forget that Jesus is my Boaz, my kinsman redeemer. If I could just keep that knowledge tucked deep inside my soul, when my heart ached with loneliness, I could whip it out like some spiritual panacea. Instead I lie on the sofa in pajamas and get way too involved in Pride and Prejudice. Sigh.

  11. Your blog is a blessing! I will be 50 in about 9 months and have always wanted a husband and children, only to attend 10-, 20-, and 30-year high school reunions alone. God, however, in His kind, but many time difficult, providence, has seen fit to bless me with continued singleness over the years. I never understood how I could delight in the Lord and Him not give me the desires of my heart (which I thought were a husband and children). I recently realized that the desire of my heart is truly to glorify God and enjoy Him and that if I delight in Him, he will give me a husband (or keep me single) if that is what glorifies Him best. I remember well my dream of having children slip away when I went through menopause. God is weaving a beautiful tapestry for all of us, even if we see only the knots, tangles, and hanging threads on the undersurface of it. I appreciate your honesty. These “Blessings of Singleness” have taken the words right out of my mouth and heart. Praying that you will be encouraged by your encouragement of others to keep the mind of Christ in all things.

  12. FABS….another amazing blog post! Please, at the very least, get all of this series copyrighted. Then write that book! Please do that!

    BTW, do you know this “Laura” that just posted? I would love to meet her, as it seems we’re in the same stage of life.

  13. Susan, I would be happy to correspond with you. It is always a blessing to meet those in the same season of life, for exhortation, prayer, and encouragement in Christ. If you list your e-mail address, I will e-mail you from my private acccount.

    Libby, God is gracious to all of us sinners, whether it is compromise in this issue or any other sin. None of our sins is greater than the forgiveness we have in Christ. His blood makes the foulest clean! Praying that you will rejoice in the hope of His cleansing power and in the power of repentance and restoration that He brings!

  14. Susan, I would be happy to correspond with you. It is always a blessing to meet those in the same season of life, for exhortation, prayer, and encouragement in Christ. If you list your e-mail address, I will e-mail you from my private account.

    Libby, God is gracious to all of us sinners, whether it is compromise in this issue or any other sin. None of our sins is greater than the forgiveness we have in Christ. His blood makes the foulest clean! Praying that you will rejoice in the hope of His cleansing power and in the power of repentance and restoration that He brings!

    1. Dear Laura: I am so sorry I can’t find the email you wrote to me, hence the reason why you haven’t heard from me. I know I received a sweet note from you, but I can’t find it now so I can’t response. Ugh. I highlighted it in my email box so I wouldn’t forget to respond, then time just flew and I “forgot”. Will you send again? Thanks. xoxo

  15. Thank you for writing this. Sometimes it’s encouraging to know that other people have the same tendencies, frustrations and fears.

  16. Wow! thank you…so much food for thought…Is this what God is up to in my life? I may be slowly getting it! I’ve just started reading Eat, Pray, Love because the movie is coming out and I was interested in reading what all the hype is about. I keep thinking if only this girl knew Jesus! Her honesty reminds me of yours and wouldn’t it be great if a Christian women was bold enough to write a book about her life warts and all etc *hint hint* at least you have the answers and your blog provides so much encouragement and wisdom, thankyou.

  17. Wow. I found this series because it was linked from another blog, and I’ve just read the whole thing in one sitting. I have never heard such truth about where I am now, and how I feel about my life, from another human being. Thank you for the honesty and the encouragement.

  18. Wow! This post was sooo encouraging & real! I love your candidness about what drives us, even in the face of supposedly met dreams! Great blog!

  19. Hi…I have been looking for women who have been going through the same thing as I have…when I decided to give in and serve…I never thought that my dreams for my life would have to die…and I keep watching as some of my plans are struck down because God has a purpose for me greater than what I wanted for myself…I do want a husband…and I am scared of singleness… but I can’t hold onto any idol and expect it to fill me…thank you God allowing Fabs to encourage us in the season we are each in…Please keep writing…

  20. I have already commented on this post a couple months ago, but I just had to mention a song about exactly the same topic as this post. The song is called “Dreams” and you can hear it at this web site http://www.truthbomb.net/Music.html (it’s the last song on the album Where I’m Found). These are some of the lyrics:

    The plans that I made up years ago,
    Took flight and left me here all alone
    And in their place You’ve given me wings,
    To fly after You wherever You go

    Is this where You want me?
    Is this how it should be?
    Can I follow You and still live out a dream?

    I thought, Fabs, that you may enjoy this song and, perhaps, some of your readers too. Thank you for this excellent blog series! I am sharing it all over my Facebook page!

  21. Thank you SOO much.You speak SOO honestly.I ‘supposedly’ have it together in all aspects of my life, yet I feel soo empty inside.Please pray for me.I am on the brink of compromise. I’ve subscribed to your blog as I know I’m in need of more encouragement to keep falling inlove with God

  22. to this day, this post still resonates with me so deeply i can’t even describe it… i think of it often. thank God for you, fabs!

  23. Aaah, Fabs, I can hear and feel your heart so much reading these words. There’s profound and impactful truth in what you write, truth that people need to hear.

    Just like your other posts, I think you hit on something with your honesty and introspection that others miss, but that there’s also “another side” to the story in which you may be too hard on yourself.

    I don’t think at all that it’s wrong to want something so badly that you feel as if that want competes with your longing for God. That’s because the two longings are of different kinds, and sometimes one is more urgent than the other. It would be hard to blame a starving man for wanting food just as much as he wants God but choosing to have faith anyway when the food doesn’t arrive. Not only is it understandable, it makes his act of faith all the more amazing.

    Again, I’d be surprised if you and I truly disagree on this. I’m probably just bringing in my perspective as a guy; I tend to look at the logical basis for emotion and see if it can be reconciled with my faith.

    God can be everything we need and yet not everything we need, depending on our perspective. I wrote something about it a few days ago:

    http://www.reformedtrader.com/2011/08/is-god-everything-you-need.html

  24. It’s amazing when we see what the Samaritan woman saw. That this Jesus was offering her satisfaction that would outlast this life. Jesus was saying, you know your last 5 husbands couldn’t fulfill you. Do you really think this one you’re working on now can? They can’t, but I can. No wonder she ran into town telling everyone to come meet him!

    How often do we keep looking for the next thing to satisfy our thirst, when Christ offers us living water?

  25. Just discovered your blog from and article on “Relevant.” Your thoughts on singleness are some of the most cohesive and Biblical I have read in a long time (and I’m a 32 year old seminary grad so I’ve read a lot! :o). I sincerely hope you’re going to put some of these thoughts into a book. I’m seriously blessed by them: thank you for putting into words what I’m feeling too!

  26. Amazing post….. Truly. At 36 and and a lover of Jesus I have walked this path so clearly articulated by Fabs and asked these same questions. Truly only our Savior satisfies and fills us completely, fullfilling every deep felt need!! Thank you for being vulnerable enough to be honest and thereby providing a vessel by which women can be encouraged to press into their only true hope and love… Their Savior..

  27. Thank you for the honest reminder of what is true. I am going through the loss of a relationship and have been praying that God would show me what to do with those unrealized hopes and dreams of a husband to be in loving relationship with and children to cherish. I had not really opened myself up to the dreams of marriage and family before this relationship and now I’m trying to sort through this loss. My prayer is that God would allow me to know and believe that He is the fulfillment of the greatest longings of my heart, and the relationship and future that I could construct for myself is nothing compared to the beauty of His plan for me. It’s learning how to walk faithfully through this pain and sorrow that I’m finding overwhelming right now, but moments spent reflecting on truths, like those you share, are a great blessing and encouragement in a particularly painful and unexpected moment in life. Thank you.

  28. So I just stumbled on this blog and sadly see that you needed a break. I am praying that you feel encouraged wherever you are in life and that you do feel God’s love in a satisfying way. Although this particular post was written a few years ago, I am encouraged by it today. I am over 40 and never married. I need to seek God in the times where the void feels bigger, but I often turn to other worldly things like food, exercise, the internet, television, etc. Thank you for these words and sharing your experience and search for God online.

  29. This really describes how I feel in the absence of a family I would like to be with God in every motion I take Not that I believe God would make me choose between the two my only Satisfaction is in Goodwill

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