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Shattered Dreams: How to Find Joy and Contentment There

Expectations founded on the shifting sands of our desires often disappoint. Especially when we gaze too long at our shattered dreams instead of mining for the gems in our current reality.

I should have learned that by now. Yet once again, I fell into the trap.

Expectations founded on the shifting sands of our desires often disappoint. Especially when we gaze too long at our shattered dreams instead of mining for the gems in our current reality. Click To Tweet


shattered dreams

The day dawned full of promise, but two hours later, it felt empty.

Tears streamed down my face. Sobs stole my breath. My husband knew no words would help, so he simply held me. 

This wasn’t a new pain, not a new loss. It first appeared more than 18 years ago, beginning when we started hearing the words developmental disability and lifelong and genetic syndrome and eventually mentally retarded associated with our daughter.

Facing Loss

Through the years, I’ve learned to manage the loss pretty well. After all, we still have our beautiful girl. And she’s curious, loving, and goofy. Although she’s also stubborn, needy, and functionally nonverbal. 

Much of the time I do well with the glaring gap between the dream we had for our only daughter and the reality of our life with her. I find her childlike perspective on life refreshing. I cherish the snuggles and sweet “mamas” she frequently voices and marvel at her ability to love anybody and everybody. 

The sadness creeps in when I let down my guard and start dwelling on the demands her disability places on us, the developmental gap between her and her peers, the things other moms experience with their daughters that I’m missing out on, the fear of her future when her dad and I are no longer around. My joy and peace dissipate when I stare too long at what I wish would have been, what I think I’m missing out on, and what I fear coming up. Such shortsightedness births discontent and sorrow. 

Perspective Shift

I don’t believe I’m unique in that respect. Most of us to some extent see our circumstances in light of what we desire and don’t yet have. Certain things we expected haven’t materialized. We grieve their loss.

This focus on our unfulfilled expectations prevents us from celebrating the blessings that are present in our current reality. To secure greater joy and contentment in our lives, we need to make a perspective shift. 

True, our expectations in this life will never be fully met. But those shattered dreams and unfulfilled desires don’t negate the beauty that does exist. 

Our expectations in this life will never be fully met. But those shattered dreams and unfulfilled desires don't negate the beauty that does exist. #perspectiveshift Click To Tweet

Shattered Dreams

We serve a God of redemption. A faithful God who pours out blessings on His children. A loving Father who shares our pain, catches our tears, and gives us a reality that always holds beauty. A Minister of grace. 

To see any beauty in our shattered dreams, we need to look with a redemptive perspective. We need to recast our unexpected circumstances in light of God’s continued grace and mercy. We need to focus on the possibilities instead of the disappointments. 

There’s no need to throw out our expectations completely. But we need to be expectant in light of the Lord’s promises, faithfulness, and sovereignty. He is a good God with a good plan. When we learn to trust in that more than we trust in our idea of what’s best, we’ll see the beauty in our unexpected lives more than we’ll see the loss. 

So I expect this won’t be the last time I weep over my daughter. But it’s not nearly as often as I love over her and laugh with her. Because although this isn’t the plan I had for her (or for my husband and me as her parents), I’m seeing the goodness of God in our existing reality…as I continue to trust His redemptive plan…as I continue to manage my expectations with His grace in mind. 

Trust God’s Plan

God’s reality for our lives nearly always looks different from what we envision. He works in mysterious ways far beyond our comprehension.

Successfully navigating through our shattered dreams, our unexpected life, with contentment and joy means trusting the Lord and looking for His goodness in our current reality. It means we rest in His immeasurable understanding and His everlasting love. It means we mine for the gems we can’t readily see. 

Successfully navigating through our shattered dreams with contentment and joy means trusting the Lord and looking for His goodness in our current reality. It means we mine for the gems we can't readily see. Click To Tweet

“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5).

Reflections: Do you struggle with shifting your perspective to focus on God’s goodness and grace in your shattered dreams? Have you discovered any gems in your unexpected circumstances while learning to trust Him?

By His grace ≈

Julie

  

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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

4 comments on “Shattered Dreams: How to Find Joy and Contentment There
  1. Lila Diller says:

    This was beautiful!! I don’t have a big circumstance like that, but I tend to put high expectations on everything and everybody. Disappointment has long ago replaced any idealism I used to have. But I am slowly learning to lower my expectations and just live in the moment — “mine for the gems,” as you said.

    • Julie Sunne says:

      Oh I hear you, Lila! I switched from living in the moment as a teenager and young adult to expecting all the “normal” things (a family, good marriage, decent job) to happen smoothly as a young married woman. That set me up for a world of hurt through the years. I’m on a slow path back. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and commenting. God bless you.

  2. cecelialester says:

    Julie: A friend of mine preached a sermon on living in the present. She had a graphic that said, “Take the high road, the view is much better there. As I type this, I have this week to myself. Then I have a week of preparation for a lumpectomy. (Not how I wanted to spend this spring.) We have to trust God without reservation for all things. The weeks of April 12 and April 19, I will be head long into getting through this cancer time. God has been good to us throughout this time. Peace and Blessings to you and yours.

    • Julie Sunne says:

      I appreciate your wise words of encouragement, Cecelia! I’m sure this is not an easy time for you. Praying for you, my friend. Peace and blessings to you and your family as well.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Shattered Dreams: How to Find Joy and Contentment There"
  1. […] can threaten to steal our joy in life. But thank God that doesn’t have to be our reality. In last week’s post, I addressed the danger of gazing too long at those shattered dreams and missing the blessings still […]

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