When I was growing up I was a more “in the moment” guy. I didn’t necessarily have goals or dreams. I just knew I wanted to be rich and successful, have a pretty wife, well-behaved children, etc. You know the usual stuff most people want when they are teenagers. I had no idea how to achieve any of that.
Once I got married though, my wife (God bless her heart) got me on the right track. When we started dating in my 20s she asked me what some of my dreams were. I told her one was about a T-Rex who didn’t get a job because he couldn’t tie a tie. She almost broke up with me because she was talking about goals. So I did what any well-intentioned young man would do… I made her a mixtape of Boyz II Men songs. It actually worked and she started talking to me again. So, to pay tribute, I am going to make three important references to Boyz II Men before this article is over.
The Usual Suspects
We all know the usual suspects when it comes to our goals/dreams failing. The Hall of Fame answers are drugs, alcohol, corrupt friends, procrastination, and no ambition. There are more, but we know those ones all too well because we know someone who has fallen because of them. Maybe even someone reading this. One thing I have learned is that for your dreams to work out they must be in line with the will of God.
You don’t decide what you want to do and then include God. You start off by including God, then He directs your steps.Tweet this!
But what about the things in our lives that seem helpful or even beneficial that can keep your dreams from becoming a reality? How do we successfully deal with those without coming off as spoiled or entitled? Here are three things that are wonderful, but have the potential to derail your dreams if you let them.
In my house, my Netflix account has profiles set up as “Guy who pays” and for my two kids they are labeled “Parasite 1” and “Parasite 2”. I let them fight over who is who. Someone out there is probably saying, “But children are a blessing from the Lord,” and they are right. Especially during tax season and “come in here and hand me that remote that is 5 feet away from me” moments. Seriously though, kids are a blessing but the reality is that they use a tremendous amount of our resources, time and energy. A normal day is after you get off work, there’s (insert activity) practice, then dinner, then help with homework and this cursed new math. Somewhere in there, you should remember you have a spouse/significant other. By the time you clean up and take a shower, it’s already 11:39 pm and the dream that you were supposed to be working on becomes a literal dream because you fell asleep in the closet while you are supposed to be trying on clothes for the next day.
Or maybe you had a budget for your dream and started to work at it, but that’s about the time get that “I’m late” text from your wife popped up. Or perhaps you were the one that sent that text and now the only dream you have is of winged dollar signs flying away from your bank account. Clothes, food, tutors, sports, violin, college, house instead of an apartment, SUV instead of a Honda Civic—you get the picture. Kids demand a lot. How am I supposed to start my coffee shop now when this kid needs a yard to play in. Cue Boyz II Men singing “It’s so hard to say goodbye” while your dream packs up and leaves.
Don’t worry though, God has got your back. He will send you help (accept it), signs (pay attention to them), encouragement (embrace it), and resources (use them). He wants your dream to flourish. If your dream is God’s will then God will make a way. One day your kids will see your dream become a success and it will make them better people. And at worst, maybe they’ll grow up to be professional remote-control retrievers.
Wait, what? I thought love “was a many splendored thing?” It is, but it will make you do some insane things. I mean, God has only 10 commandments for the entire world, but my wife… she has 172 rules just for our house. It is because she loves me (or so she says)? When I consistently break approximately 169 of those rules and she looks at me with what can only be described as “divorce eyes”, but she never actually calls the attorney. That’s healthy love. But what about when you are on step 4 of your 6-part plan for your dream and your significant other must move five states over because of a promotion? Or things are so bad in the marriage that you must spend more time working on things instead of your dream. That’s when you may find yourself saying, “Siri, please play Boyz II Men ‘It’s so hard to say goodbye.'” as you watch your dream make it’s way to the backburner or out of the kitchen completely.
A lot of times we love our dream or what our dreams can bring us more than we love God. God is a jealous God. You start and then continue to love someone or something more than Him and it might as well be a low-rated sitcom. He/she/it may get canceled. Learn to love God, and you will learn a healthy love for anything else in your life. Trust me, I have about 87 love songs on my playlist. (Remember, I made a mixtape once).
How you were raised
I am going to tread lightly here before I get angry emails about how I disrespected someone’s mother. My mother called me the other day to fix her computer and I was so happy about that. Not because I got to help her, but because I was like “well, well well, if it isn’t Miss ‘get off that computer’ circa 1994-2006. Imagine if I had just gotten off the computer like she wanted, and never kept at it. I would be in terrible shape right now.
Your grandparents, parents, crazy uncle, and sophisticated aunt all had a hand in raising you—the good and the bad. But only the truth they taught you about God will help you the most. I had an uncle who gave me excellent advice and said, “If it’s one thing video games teach us, it’s that when you meet enemies that means you are going in the right direction, so do not give up on your dreams.” But this is also the same uncle who calls a chicken tender a “ranch shovel” so I don’t know. The upshot? Use what you were taught growing up wisely. That could be the difference between your local newspaper writing an article about how you overcame adversity and succeeded in your dream or you sliding down a wall crying asking Alexa to play Boyz II Men “It’s so hard to say goodbye” as your dream rides off into the sunset (that’s three references; you’re welcome). God places people in your life at various times to help you (let them), but don’t let them destroy your dream. Make sure they are adding value to your dream and not subtracting it.
Unfortunately, I have personally let the three things end one dream or another in my life. I wish I hadn’t, but it happened. All three are things people would say are excellent (even a blessing) to have in your life. They are, but if prioritized incorrectly, it could be a major detriment. Make sure your dreams line up with God’s will. Seek his wisdom and obey his commandments. When your dreams merge with God’s purpose, you’ll always have what you need to succeed.