The importance of broken dreams

We need to dream so that they can be broken

Have your dreams ever been broken? Have you ever wept because something you hoped for will never be?

A ‘broken dream’ – it sounds like something from a fairy-tale or a Shakespearean sonnet, something which doesn’t quite happen in the day to day life of the 21st century. It definitely doesn’t really sound like something we can admit to.

And yet I think we should.

The reason broken dreams are important if your Loved One has a chronic illness

We all have dreams

Who lives entirely in the present? Very few of us! Even if we don’t label them as such, I think we’ve all had dreams, hopes or idealisations of the future. For some of us, these dreams will involve loving spouses and healthy children. For others it might look like a peaceful retirement, a satisfying vocation or simply, security.

For a long time I tried not to dream of the future. My entire life my mum has been sick, and all I wanted for the future was for her not to suffer in her old age. I refused to think too hard about her being a grandparent or growing old with her greying husband.

On the contrary, I always had ‘dreams’ for my little sister. Growing up, I loved her as everything that I was not: extroverted, domestic, mothering. When I thought of the future, she was always there, smiling and blushing in full health, surrounded by happy children and a doting husband.

Sometimes dreams are broken

If I were a cynic, I would say all dreams are broken. No one gets what they want out of life – but I don’t believe that. I believe God is king, and sometimes miracles happen, prayers are answered, and people live charmed lives. On this earth these happenstances are momentary, but one day they will be eternal.

I may not be a cynic, but I think I am a realist. Most of  us don’t live charmed lives. Most of us don’t experience miracles when we long for them. For the majority of us, our dreams are not going to come true. Our futures aren’t going to be as rosy-hued as we would like.

Lately my mum has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And I wept. I wept for the present, I wept for her suffering, but I also wept for her future. You see, I had, despite everything, allowed myself to dream.

I barely realised it myself, until I noticed that I was mourning the fact that the odds are even less in her favour than before. Chances are, I may not see her grey-haired and beside her retired husband, living at home. Perhaps she won’t know what it’s like to hold a grandchild, or be the mother of a bride. In spite of everything I had dreamed a future for my mum.

On the contrary, I thought I was safe dreaming about my sister. Then three years ago, an MRI proved me wrong. There is no security on this earth. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and she now lives off replacement hormones and life is very different for her. Her future will look different too.

the power of broken dreams www.calledtowatch.com _ #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #emotions #faith #God #Hope

But don’t stop dreaming!

I’m tempted to renounce dreaming once and for all. I really want to march away from this and explain that dreams are for the weak-hearted, that I won’t be caught out again. But I won’t – and here’s why:

1. Dreaming is part of being human:

We’re not animals. We don’t live entirely in the present. We have been blessed with an understanding and appreciation of the concept of Time. Even when I refused to dream, I still found myself creating an ideal future out of the longings in my heart. We are made to dream.

2. Good things come from dreaming:

If I gave up dreaming, I might be happier in the short term, but what about the long run? When we dream we create hopes and fears. These in turn push us to depend on God, to cast the unknowns of our future onto Him. Secondly, when we dream we are given an opportunity to practice Hope, and reflect on goodness. It is good for us to look forward to a time not yet present, and good for us to wonder about what will make us happy, and what is good to hold onto.

3. Not all dreams are broken:

One day, there will be a bright future for those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. One day, the dreams of those whose hearts are sold to Him will come true. In the meantime, we dream because that is a way of demonstrating to those around us that we do not need to be broken by broken dreams. We can get up and dance amidst their fragments, because our God is still King. Our dreams may be shattered, but His love never is.

The power of broken dreams

What power then, do broken dreams hold? The power to push us towards our Saviour and to demonstrate to ourselves and those around us what is most important. Please, keep dreaming. It’s a life-changing way of living out your Hope.

Dream, even if it’s just so your dreams can be broken and re-made beneath the cross.

//What sort of dreams do you have? How can you feed them?

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Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

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