By Gena Anderson
The life cycle of a dream typically is as follows:
God puts a dream in our heart.
We were created with a natural inclination toward those abilities which will cultivate it.
We follow his lead and obediently take steps to move closer to that dream.
Skills are acquired along the way.
People come alongside and encourage or help us.
We pray diligently that we will see the dream become reality.
Then it does.
For a moment we feel joyful and celebrate.
But the satisfaction of a dream realized is fleeting.
Why is that?
I recently had this experience. Since starting the work of writing my first book, The Well Woman: a Journey to Wellness Through Loving Jesus, I have dreamed of speaking to women about wellness. I’ve had the pleasure of doing this on podcasts and teaching at my church, but this weekend I bared my soul and shared all the encouragement God gave me on the topic of rest at a women’s conference right in my hometown. It was a beautiful, joyful experience. Then, it ended and life as a wife, mom, and general manager of my home resumed. For a moment I wondered why I couldn’t hold on a little longer to the satisfaction of knowing a job well done. As usual, God gave me an answer to this wondering in a reminder to get back to work.
I’ve recently realized we get the concept of dreams backwards. We think the fruition of our God-given dream is the goal. It’s not. Everything God does is about reconciliation of his people to him, including dreams. He wants our hearts, dreams and all, to be his. The knowing of God, being restored by and to him, does not come as a metal of achievement, bestowed on the day the dream is realized. Knowing him happens as we experience his presence and provision as we work.
The process of working toward a dream is to take us one step closer to full reconciliation with God, but he is not after just our hearts, he wants the hearts of those around us as well. Bringing others along with us in our dreams is paramount to fulfilling our purpose of making disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). And this is where the work becomes satisfying more than the end product. When we personally experience God working out a dream in our lives, it is a joyous journey. When we get to witness intimacy and transformation in the lives of others along the way, it is truly miraculous.
Kathie Lee Gifford says in her book, It’s Never Too Late, “There is joy in the struggle of hard work, and there is profound pleasure in the sweat of it.“ This gives us one answer to that question above. Satisfaction of a dream realized is fleeting because if we are waiting to feel it until the endpoint we have missed an opportunity. The work, dream work, is not a means to an end, it is an invitation to witness God at work. Every sore muscle, tear-stained pillow, and sweat-soaked shirt is evidence of our grind. There is joy in not just the work, but the struggle, the bravery of taking it on and awkwardly navigating uncharted territory. The key to letting the work be satisfying is learning to experience joy in the struggles and pleasure in the labor. Stop anticipating and start experiencing. Have fun in the building of a dream.
The other answer to why satisfaction of a dream realized seems short-lived is because it really isn’t the dream. God gives us dreams in this life so that he can use us to impact his kingdom, but each dream is not THE dream. Writing a book was unbelievably joyful for a season, but life moved on. Having babies was a beautiful gift, but they grow up. Starting a new career is exhilarating, but it will eventually be a daily routine. None of those are truly where our lives are leading. Knowing God fully is the biggest dream of all. We will never know true satisfaction until we are in his presence. Glory will abound, joy that finally reflects our realization rather than surpasses our understanding will be ours to experience. Until then, we can only choose to find joy in the moments of hard work, strength in the rhythms of his rest, and satisfaction in drawing nearer and nearer to that glorious day.