How to Deal with a Dream that is Falling Flat

Who among us isn’t a dreamer? Even the greatest, most glass-half-full cynic has dreams. Dreams are a good thing and believing in and pursuing your dreams can be a holy experience to bring you deeper into the heart of God.

But what happens when we finally take that bold leap into the unchartered lands of our dreams and things don’t work out quite the way we hoped they would? Maybe you put off starting your business, waiting year after year until the day you finally felt it was time, but you didn’t make a single sale for 4 months. What if you excitedly launched your beautifully designed website that promoted a message the world desperately needs only to have nobody visit? What if you created the most innovative and gorgeous clothing line only to have no buyers show any interest in your designs? Maybe you spent endless hours learning the ins and outs of starting your own newsletter and the only person who signed up was your mom? What then? What happens when our dreams fall flat?

The natural response for most people is to try harder. Hustle more. Strive. We sweep up the fragments from the mess we felt we made and hold them tight, doing everything we can to stay in control to not let something like that ever happen again.

On the path of hustle, we become obsessed with how we think it’s supposed to look as our dreams begin to unfold and we have the paperwork to prove it. We have binders overflowing with business plans, timelines, numbers, outlines, statistics, and pie charts to neatly and colorfully give ourselves a sense of comfort. Going after our dreams feels scary and wildly unknown, so in a bid to feel in control, we painstakingly line up all of the facts. The problem is, when we grasp our dreams that tight and move beyond hard work into the land of control, there is no space between our firm grasp for anything else—not even God.

Sure, we may pray, asking God to do something big with our dreams, something far beyond anything we could imagine, because that’s exactly what he tells us he can do (Eph. 3:20). But our prayers end up being little more than empty words when we can’t loosen our desperate, controlling grip on our dreams to release them to the one who gave us those dreams in the first place.

Or, maybe you find yourself at the opposite end of the spectrum and are just plain fed up, sick and tired of being let down by dreams deferred. Here, we buy into the lie that says because this whole situation isn’t unfolding the way we wanted it to, our dream has gone to waste. Let’s pack it up and call it a day.

Either way, what if we have it all wrong? What if our role in the unfolding of our dreams isn’t just to hustle harder or to throw in the towel? What if what we really need to do is something that may feel even more challenging than the hustle and definitely more challenging than just giving up? What if what we needed to do was to surrender our dreams to God?

When we don’t surrender our dreams to God and instead, find ourselves striving, hustling, and comparing, we are keeping ourselves from the peace we could have in this moment—the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). Instead, we think we can only have peace when we have _______ (fill in the blank). It could be a certain number of followers, subscribers, income, testimonials, or clients. Only you know what your blank is.

But in truth, the peace you seek is available now. Jesus has come. We have everything we need in him. Every single thing we could possibly seek or want pales in comparison (Col. 3:11). Even if you get your blank, it’s icing on the cake. You have Jesus right now. You have peace right now (Rom. 15:13).

So if you have stepped out into the beautiful, vast landscape of your dream and it hasn’t gone the way you expected, don’t lose hope. Sometimes we get so hooked into how we think our dreams should unfold that we miss the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Surrender your dreams to God and trust that he has not just your good in mind, but the good of everyone, everywhere. Maybe God has an entirely different plan for your dream, something so much better than anything you could have imagined; something that will not just be good for you, but good for others, too. Maybe his timeline isn’t the same as yours, but he only has good things planned for you (Jer. 29:11). He will help you. All you need to do is surrender and still your heart (Ex. 14:14).

Your best is yet to come.

What is your heart longing for? Have you given that thing to Jesus or are you still clutching on? What can you do today to step towards giving your dream to him?

Enjoyed this article? Share it!

Recommended Posts
  • Kylie, this is a word I desparately needed today. I’m chasing hard after my dreams and God is blessing but I don’t want to hold on so tight to what I think it should look like that I miss what He wants it to be. Thank you so much for this!

    • Christa, I love hearing that God is blessing the hard work you are putting in, and I’m even more thrilled to hear you’re going to let go a little bit to let Him do his thing. He’s a good Father and I bet he grins with delight because you’re trusting him with your beautiful dreams. And I’m grinning with delight too because you’ve already won – you know it’s not about your dreams, but about him. I’m so happy to hear this message connected with your heart and I’m happy to be on this journey with you!

  • This is just beautiful! I completely identify with wanting to control the process instead of handing the dream over to the Divine. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement!

    • Laura, I’m so grateful this message resonated with you. I’m so glad the words He gave me spoke to your heart!

  • heather marshall

    Oh girl… it’s like you’re reading my mind…. God is good and it is well. Honestly it’s been a hard week- the framed print in my bedroom which says “believe in the beauty of your dreams” seems almost like a mockery… But I don’t want to hold on so tight to the way I think they should go anymore that I don’t leave room for God to work. Thank you for a gracious reminder today ♥ There truly is freedom in surrender.

    • Heather, I’m right alongside of you in letting go so God has room to work, friend, and I just prayed for you. As you take those courageous steps into surrendering, may you find peace in knowing that God’s got you, and he wants good for you more than you want good for you. I’m so happy you’re stepping into that the freedom he lavishes on us with abandon and I hope you’ll let me know how it goes!

  • Amazing! God does incredible things with our dreams when we hand them to Him. It takes trust on our part – lots of trust – but I think that’s part of the beauty. It causes us to rely more on Him & lean into His promises. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Alison, oh yes, trust! It’s a tricky thing, isn’t it? But if we can dare and trust him with even our biggest, most grand dreams, we will never fall flat on our faces. It’s true that the outcome may not look anything like we had hoped, but when we spend time talking with our Father and give him our dreams, we win no matter what because spending that time with him in the thick of it is what it’s all about. Relying on him and leaning into his promises can’t really happen unless we step out and get messy, and maybe even bumble things up along the way. I’m so grateful we’re loved by a God who isn’t put off by our bumbling, aren’t you?

  • JohnTharpe68

    Kylie, as a man, who feels he has lost his dreams, and is too old to “start over” AGAIN, thank you for these inspiring words. Your words reach far beyond the boundaries of gender, and into the heart of all that have struggled with giving up on their dreams. When you said, “we have everything, if we have Jesus,” reminded me that as a Christian, too often I rely more on myself, than the power of “being able to do ALL things through Christ that strengthens me.” Thank you for this beautifully worded, uplifting article. Many blessings!
    John Tharpe

    • John, even though the world loves to try and convince us otherwise, no person is ever too old to start over. We are loved by a God who gives us new mercies every morning. I think if he’s cool with giving us a new chance every day, he’s must be totally fine with us starting over yet again. The exciting thing about starting over again, especially as we grow older, is that we get to apply the lessons we have learned along the way and impact the world for His glory in a beautiful, more authentic way than we could have even dared to hope when we were younger. Prayers and blessings to you, and thank you for your kind words! Kylie

  • Thankful you linked this today. The Bible is clear that we are to submit our plans to the Lord and He will direct our paths…Proverbs 3:5-6 …. We as humans have a tendency to get it reversed. WE make the plans then ask the Lord. This was a very encouraging and inspiring post. Appreciate you sharing it at Thankful Heart linkup.

    • I’m so thankful this spoke to you, Michelle! Grace + peace, friend!

  • Sophia

    Love love love this article. Kylie thank you for sharing this wonderful piece. It spoke to my heart. It’s so easy to grasp things so tight and want to control every detail. Thanks again.

    • Sophia, I’m so happy this resonated with your beautiful heart. It is easy to grasp things tightly and try to stay in control, isn’t it? Almost too easy sometimes! I’m thankful the Holy Spirit residence takes up residence inside of us to help us on the journey to surrender. Cheering you on, friend!

  • I loved that Kylie. So true, we have to surrender all things to him! Er have peace now and we have joy now in Jesus!

    • Brittany, I’m super grateful these words spoke to you! I’m also grateful we have joy right this second in Jesus, no matter what our circumstances look like from the outside. All we have to do is surrender, remember he’s here in the thick of it with us, and know that he makes all things beautiful. Grace + peace to you!

  • Carolina

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  • Amy Jones

    What are some practical tangible tips you can give to demonstrate that we are living in the joy of Christ in the midst of a floundering dream? I am there but with my rent coming due and so many bills that I can’t pay, the only thing between me and this dream is $10k, and I have tried every possible way to make money but nothing. Seriously nothing. Even things I am not proud of. Is working out. My dream is to be a surgeon. I am six weeks away. I am a mom of five children. I have gotten a full time job which didn’t pay enough and left me too exhausted to study for my medical boards. A part time job that ran me ragged and paid less. A start up etsy business that also cost me too much time and ended up in a horrible calamity that caused me weeks of depression to applying and being denied work for hooters and every other position you can imagine. I am seriously so defeated and tired. I pray but I am so tired of telling my children’s school again that I can’t pay student dues for which there is no program for someone on my position and as such my child can’t get her schedule until the morning school starts. I am tired. Heavy burdens got nothing on me. I have tons and I am drowning. I see all of these go find me pages and mine barely drew in $300. I finally closed it because there was a possibility of loans but alas I didn’t qualify and I don’t have a well suited co-signer. I can’t study like I would like to because I am so upset about finances. I can’t find a job that lets me make enough money and doesn’t leave me in a position where I can’t study due to work load. So exactly how do I know when God will show up with his big time blessing. How am I supposed to rest and let him work with all of these serious -like I am facing homelessness and no vehicle -life situations.

  • Jay Smith

    Kylie, I have heard the saying “God helps those who help themselves” quite a bit and I’m just wondering, are you saying that we should let go completely and let God direct us or should we actively continue pursuing our dreams but allow God to direct our path once we start pursuing that dream?

  • Thank you Kylie. That was so timely for me at this moment. Not when you wrote it but when God prompted me to read it. Thank you Jesus for reminding me to lean on you. I have been trying so hard to make something happen, so many different ways. I keep telling God that I will leave it with Him but then think of just one more way that I could make it work. It is hard to think you are letting go, and mine isn’t so much a dream but a great opportunity that I thought God put in my way but didn’t pan out as I expected. But I know that I went through that for a reason, something great may come of it or it may have been a teaching phase of life that I learn I need to quite trying so hard! Either way, I’m done. I’m done trying to make things happen so hard and forgetting to listen to what God is trying to whisper.

  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    Amen, friend. xoxoxoxo

  • Funmi Akinmade

    Thank you for this post. I’ve heard it said time and time again about not comparing ourselves with others. I must confess, though it’s happening less frequently, I still do :(( I do go through phases where I feel as if I’m running on a treadmill – expending time and energy but still bound to the same spot! Then, my dreams seem to be standing still. That said, I agree with you. God has something much better than I can ever imagine :))