Most people don’t know this, but I actually applied to graduate school back in 2008 right after completing my undergraduate studies at Biola. Once I swiveled my tassel to the other side of my cap, I was proud of myself and felt so certain about my future as a counselor of lost souls and hopeless delinquents. I didn’t think of any other possibilities and was absolute in my decision to go back to school, and couldn’t wait to start my career. I literally holed myself up at the local Starbucks for days at a time, pouring my life into applications and essays. I got great letters of recommendation, all my transcripts were sent out, and I pretty much spent about $2000(!!!) on fees on top of more fees.
I applied to seven schools.
I got rejected from seven schools.
It was one of the most embarrassing and demoralizing moments of my adult life. I felt like the years of painfully enduring through classes would grant me the reward of going to a school I actually wanted to attend, studying what I actually wanted to study. All that I had hoped for, prayed for, and expected with all of my heart came down on me like fire. I felt like my dreams had crashed and burned.
I have to admit that I was a mess, and I was completely muddled. What was I going to do now? Do I apply again next year? Do I just find a job now? All these questions plagued me and I was even too mortified to tell my mother and my friends what had happened, so I lied to cover up the fact that none of these schools accepted me. They didn’t want me. All that money gone, all those prayers gone, I was disappointed in myself. But more than that, I scowled at God and wondered, “Okay, what the heck do you want me to do??” It was a dark moment for the both of us.
One of my dearest friends recently had a big dream crushed… something that she had talked about and planned around for years came to a screeching halt and it really frustrated her. I felt helpless because I wished I could have done more to ease her disappointment, but all I could really do was stare at the blinking cursor before my eyes and just type out “I’m sorry, it’ll be okay, it’ll get better.” I felt stupid, because when people said that to me as I tearfully gazed at my rejection letters, I wanted to punch them in the face. It’s not consoling at all during the heat of the occurrence.
But something I learned as I recovered from that time of my life was that the beauty of dreaming is that it doesn’t allow room for cynicism or pessimism. If you don’t believe in your own dreams, those shouldn’t be called dreams at all. The reason why people are so dreamy about dreams is because it’s just unrealistic, otherworldly, and unlike the “reality” of our world, which can suck most of the time. Another wonderful thing about being a dreamer is that if one dream ends, another can be born. That’s why the terms “hopes” and “dreams” are seen together so often – you need hope to dream and dreams to hope. When failure smacked me in the face that year, I allowed that temporary lapse to push me down many flights of stairs. I came to the bottom and simply laid there, thinking that my purpose was done for.
Isn’t that such an underestimation of the power of God’s grace? God didn’t save and sacrifice for the sake of one little dream to be accomplished. He opened up realms of infinity for us, and I truly believe that He delights in our creativity and big picture visions for our lives. Through that grace, we’re able to experience different and unique things that God constructed for each and every one of us, and a new balloon of hope swells up in our hearts, readying the next dream He has placed within us.
Dear friend, this dream may be over, or maybe it’s postponed. But you are a beautiful woman who is fearfully and specifically crafted by God to carry out not just one dream at a time, but many throughout a lifetime which will impact others and rock you inside and out. Believe that as you cling to His grace, refill your hope tank, and envision new dreams.
There is no such thing as failure, or the death of a dream. We have the limitless capacity to develop the most amazing blueprints, but it is with the fuel of God that skyscrapers are built. The supernatural component of it all though is that the actual thing will actually look far grander and shinier than what ink and imagination could have proffered.