This year has taught me how important it is to nourish your dreams — even when it seems impossible, even when (especially when) you’re experiencing disappointment.
My husband and I have been encountering this daily for the past several months. In different ways, we’ve both experienced what we perceived as failure, disappointment, or delay in areas of dreams. Whether it’s business, creativity, or anything else, the experience of disappointment is the same. I’ve found that there is a way to keep your dreams alive in the face of delay or failure.
Disappointment isn’t about failure; it’s about the choices you will make in response to what you perceive is happening. We all make judgment calls based off of what we can plainly see. I have a dream, and I’m unable to execute, or it’s not successful in the ways I’ve imagined. I conclude either I or the dream is faulty or not meant to be. Case closed.
Except what if my perspective was based on something like a two-dimensional vision, but the Lord actually works in multidimensional processes? Something more like infinity-D. This is why we don’t lean on our own understanding. It’s not a rule. It’s a gift, and it will free you. We don’t know everything because we’re not designed for it. Not because we’re failing or aren’t smart enough. We’re supposed to trust the One who does and be faithful with what we have. We can let ourselves off the hook and, I would challenge, drop judgments of pass, fail, success, and failure entirely.
When we experience disappointment in our dreams and limit our understanding of them to this simple paradigm of pass/fail, we may miss out on the very process that was designed for us to be able to achieve what we desire. Dreams require perseverance and maturation. They require nourishment. Sometimes favor and ease signify we’re on the right path, but sometimes favor and ease are on the other side of you choosing to validate your dream before anyone else does.
As my husband and I have walked our own journey, I’ve learned that overcoming disappointment starts with self-validation. Meaning, we have to believe for ourselves what God has said about us — before the book reaches the bestseller list, the company makes its first million, or any other external measurement can do it for us.
I won’t be able to sustain myself or my dream on the approval or encouragement of others. External validation makes for a poorly built foundation. I don’t know about you, but my dreams deserve better than that.
As I deal with my own resistance and fear, I’ve learned to accept God has spoken to me. It wasn’t a mistake. He's put a desire in my heart and told me who I am. If I don’t deeply believe in and fight for my gift, I can’t expect anyone else to, either. Feeling disappointment isn’t a sign of failure — it’s an opportunity to choose to fight for the desires God has placed in your heart.
Self-validating is a gift you can give yourself, whether other resources are available or not. As soon as you do, you’ll start thinking in more creative and positive ways about your current situation.
Choose to nourish the dream now as if it’s already as wonderful as you hope it will be. Treat it as though it’s a big deal, like it matters — because it does. This is how God treats us. He sees us as complete and whole: his fulfilled dream. He treats us with honor, love, and respect now -- not when we’ve finally arrived.
We must do the same. Even if there are setbacks, it’s moving slower than we’d like, or we’re weary because waiting is hard. Even when Instagram likes are low, the right investors haven’t come along yet, or the relationship ended.
This year, disappointment came strong and told me there was nothing I could do for my dreams. There wasn’t enough money, time, or favor. But it was a lie. I’ve fought for a long time to love myself enough to live like I have abundance, even when it looks like lack. When I’m willing to see it, there's always something I can do toward my dreams.
In the face of delay or personal challenges, I’ve found ways to nourish my dreams anyway (often without spending a dime).
I schedule in time to dream and research. It takes no money to carve out time on my calendar to develop my dreams — even if it’s once a week. I use the time to dream, visualize, and plan.
I pursue wisdom and relationships. It costs nothing but the price of a cup of coffee to meet someone and ask them about how they did what they're doing. You lose nothing by reaching out — but could stand to gain connection, inspiration, and valuable information.
I’ve learned to think outside the box and not cast such harsh judgments on my own progress. Maybe the original plan didn’t work out, but maybe that’s because I didn’t know what I know now. Back to the drawing board! Where is God leading me? Maybe he has a better strategy. Abundance says there’s always a solution.
And most importantly, when I didn’t see what I needed, I created it. When I felt alone in my writing pursuits, I invited women to join a writing group. What I needed was community and accountability, but what I’ve received has been so much more than that. Now we all get to receive what we need to nourish our dreams and encourage each other in the waiting.
So, love your dream — now.
Nourish it -- now.
Especially because it doesn’t make sense. Especially because you feel hidden, overlooked, or unseen. Especially because there has been setbacks and confusion.
Disappointment is not about failure. It’s about the choices we will make in response to what we see happening and from that can grow life or death. Don’t let disappointment deter you from your dream. Don’t choose bitterness. Be resolute. Let God validate you and agree with him validating you through your actions and words.
Nourish your dream through the difficulties. Create something from the nothing you see around you and let this season be defined not by disappointment and lack it brought, but your bravery and creation.