I do not believe there is a more helpless feeling than to see the hopes and dreams of someone you love strown across the floor in a seemingly shattered mess. The jagged, pointed edges of broken promises, the wounds that cannot be prevented, the pain and heartbreak…
Indeed, there is nothing more utterly gut-wrenching than seeing someone you love in pain and accepting your own helplessness. No words or gestures can stop the gaping, sucking hurt that tears at their soul; it is a feeling no words can amply describe.
I’ve had my own dreams broken and bore witness to the shards that come with the hurt and loss of those I care deeply about. What I know is this: when you are standing in the middle of the carnage and pain, there seems to be no remedy to heal the hurt. The feelings of anger and helpless literally suck the air out of you. You cannot breathe.
In the beginning, once you get past those initial emotions telling you this just cannot be, the ping-pong effects of anger and bargaining consume you. They tug at your heart; consume every waking thought and drive you nearly insane with every range of emotion. You seek understanding, trying desperately to move heaven and earth to change the situation, all to no avail. With time, the anger gives way to an intense grief that knocks you to your knees. Your world has changed; you have changed. And then, acceptance finally comes. The scars and pain are real and unforgettable. They will forever shade every decision you make, but they are the refining point that turns your ‘dream-turned-nightmare’ into purpose.
“Something wonderful survives everything terrible, and it surfaces most clearly when we hurt.”
“Shattered dreams open the door to better dreams, dreams that we do not properly value until the dreams we improperly valued are destroyed.”–Larry Crabb
When dreams shatter, the brokenness and pain does eventually give way to new beginnings. In his book on the topic, Larry Crabb draws parallels between Shattered Dreams and the story of Naomi in the Bible. He reminds us of the pain she suffered when she lost her husband and two sons; the anguish she expressed to God over him not employing his omnipotent powers to ease her unfathomable hurt. The story of Naomi’s heartbreak is a lesson in how shattered dreams are the prelude to unspeakable joy.
When I recall the deepest, darkest moments of my life and the cries of my heart to God, I am thankful that he did not appease me. I know the joy and love that fills my life today would not be possible if God had given in to my painful cries. Steeled with the confidence of my seasoned heart, I am convinced that the pain and suffering I felt were necessary to allow me to experience the incredibly blessed life I now have. Yes, without the extreme pain and brokenness that caused me to completely surrender my will to his, I know I would be nothing. I would have nothing. I would not know joy.
There are no easy words that come when dreams shatter. No helping hand or offer to help put the pieces back together will suffice. The only path forward – when you are sitting in the middle of the mess – is to feel the pain, find surrender and languish in the joy that will surely follow.
I am on my knees, crying, for this season to pass quickly for those I know are hurting. It is the desire of my heart that his lessons show themselves and be quickly taken to heart. I ask for the pain and suffering to give way to eventual acceptance of the situation and rejoice, knowing that one in not-too-distant morning, we will celebrate the glorious arrival of unspeakable joy.
And, I know God is listening.