Discerning The True Desires of Your Heart
“Are you satisfied with your life now? Have you done enough? What would you change?”
Lately, I have been working through these questions (as if I were much older looking back and also as my present self as if my life would end today), and seeking fulfillment of my life’s purpose.
It is amazing to think of our existence as a single undivided path to life because of its many stages, but in the end it’s a one shot kind of thing - you either do something or you don’t. The truth is, we don’t have as much control as we think and life can throw at us some unexpected curve balls, so we must re-assess our dreams and goals regularly. There are dreams that you have now that may not have existed a few months ago, while others may not exist in your heart tomorrow. But I do believe that dreams, goals, and aspirations are all intertwined with God’s purpose for our lives.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. -Proverbs 13:12
I am a dreamer, but there’s always a little voice that reminds me that not all of my dreams will come true and that that’s alright. When I was a teenager, I had plenty of dreams that may have been strong in my heart at the time but did not survive my adult days. Yet, I also hold dreams today that are a result of letting go of some of those “other dreams.” The path that runs from birth to the beginning of eternity is intertwined and tangled in our everyday life as it unfolds in simple daily moments with the start of each day, which is why every day counts as an opportunity.
Some dreams are transient, depending on current times, your environment, the people around you, or the way that you were raised, etc.. For example, some of my goals/dreams included becoming a professional soccer player, singer or actress (why not?), but as the time drew near and I had to make certain career choices my mind molded into “my new world," and I decided to let those dreams go. But, based on those dreams: I played soccer and I was in a band and a drama club, which helped me gain valuable experiences that shaped me into who I am today. So, perhaps those dreams were not futile after all, even though they did not come true!
Yet, there are some dreams that are less specific than the above examples and are stepping stones to something bigger. It is those dreams that survive time and life changes. These are usually the dreams that feel more like a calling than a simple desire to achieve something - a deeper meaning than just personal drive.
But, does God care about my dreams?
Haven’t we all asked ourselves this? Especially when things don’t seem to turn up the way you dreamed of or planned?
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalms 37:4
This verse has captured my heart and turned things upside down for me, because it’s filled with God’s intention for our existence. I have always wanted to have a helping career that would allow me to be of service to others. I have held this dream close to my heart, above all other dreams and goals for as long as I can remember, because I truly believe that this is God’s will for me.
Here, the desires of my heart align with His will for my life, but there are other dreams in my life that I may yearn for, but that may not be part of His plan for my life right now. For example, does it matter to God if I travel the world and have fun when I know that this does not fit His plan for me right now? Yes, because there are dreams that I have created as part of my human experience here on this earth, and although they matter to God, they are not meant to come to fruition right now. Note that God will likely not help you attain goals that you may think are good but that He knows otherwise!
So, which dreams should I let go of and which dreams should I pursue?
In my experience, I have learned that those dreams that matter will keep burning a hole in your heart and will not let go of you. These are the dreams that are deeply imbedded in God’s will for your life and are set by divine appointment (although sometimes it tends to look more like a chaotic appointment, e.g. your family).
Then, there are the dreams that are personal and part of being human (having a house; traveling the world; running a 5k; etc.). These may or may not be important, but do shape and affect us in many ways. The truth is that dreams may be a tool to fulfill God’s plan, or they may be a natural longing, so don't undermine some of those dreams that may seem unimportant at the time, but are perhaps planted there for a bigger purpose.
This time of the new year brings a lot of letting go and embracing of new dreams. Discern the value and worth of your dreams. Ensure that they align with His heart, so that they may bring you happiness and fulfillment, as well as the execution of your heart's desires.