rebelling against low expectations

Why You Need To Stop Chasing Your Dreams


“Do hard things.”

“Don’t waste your teen years.”

“Impact the world.”

“There’s no end to what you can do.”

“Your single years are when you’re freest to go and do big things for God.”

These are phrases which I only heard more as I neared the end of my senior year of high school. But unlike most graduates who seemed to have every ability to follow this advice, I seem to be lacking it.

Every time I saw one of those similar phrases in an article I wanted to scream back, “But I can’t!”

You see, I have a chronic illness.

Every time I discussed a big idea with my dad, he would say, “That sounds like a great idea, but I don’t know how your health would do.”

I had a dream … the door shut

I had a dream of working at a children’s home – the door shut.

I had a dream of volunteering at comfort care or impacting the children in our community who didn’t have a good home life – the door shut.

Marriage didn’t seem to be soon either.

I hated the question, “So what are you going to do after you graduate?” I wanted to scream, “Can’t you see?! I’m sick! I can’t do anything!”

I became angry and embittered as I watched most of my high school senior friends run down the road to adulthood, when it seemed I had no legs. Some were going to college while others were getting jobs, and still others were on their way to marriage.

Then God brought to my attention Psalm 37. Verses 4-7 say, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

My eyes were then opened

God did not call me to something which He did not give me the ability to do, nor did He fail to give me a vision. I was the one who refused to see that vision.

Instead of delighting in Him and allowing Him to fill my heart’s desire, I had rejected the circumstances the Lord had blessed me with.

Instead of committing and surrendering my way to God, I desired to pursue my own enterprises, NOW!

But God had a different, very big, important dream for me to fulfill, NOW!

The only dream which didn’t seem to have the answer, “No” was a dream to go to a missionary school. The answer was a clear, “Wait.” That waiting period looked like about two years.

But those two years felt like an eternity of boredom and emptiness! Then my eyes were opened to the ways I could serve God NOW.

God has a divine calling for me

God has a divine calling for me, right here in my own home. I know, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, weeding the garden, feeding bottomless pits, and reading the same book to a little person over and over doesn’t seem very divine. Neither does lying in bed feel very productive.

But to God, it’s very important, for when I rejoice while lying in bed, I am bringing glory to Him and encouraging my family to be thankful no matter what the circumstances. And through my weakness, others have seen the great power of God.

At first glance, this “small” calling wouldn’t fit the bill for the “advice” we often hear. But what is harder than denying our own dreams and serving God behind the scenes?

What is the point in doing “big things for God” when you’re actually ignoring the work God has for you, whether it’s big in the world’s eyes or not?

Wasting our teen years would be chasing our dreams – whether big or little – and ignoring God’s dreams, no matter what size.

Join with me in seeking God’s dreams

Probably most of you don’t have a debilitating illness. But most of us teens have times in our lives where we feel there are lots of dead ends.

I would suggest that it’s often that we are blinded by our own enterprises and therefore do not see the great opportunity which God has given us.

Join with me in doing hard things! Don’t waste your teen years! Impact the people God has put in your life! Embrace everything God has enabled you to do!

And remember, when seeking God’s dreams instead of your own enterprises, you can live this out in a children’s home, as an overseas missionary, going on mission trips, volunteering, in your own home, and yes, even in bed.

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Photo courtesy of Lauren Rushing and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Dorothy Thompson

is an eighteen-year-old daughter of the King of Kings. She lives on a small farm and enjoys helping her daddy with animals and crops when she is able, washing laundry in a washtub and hanging it out to dry, having late night talks with her sister and friends, memorizing scripture, talking to Jesus while lying in bed, and writing. She just recently picked up a new hobby of washing, carding, and spinning wool from their sheep.


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  • Thank-you so much for sharing this. I love the way you showed how sacrificing our spectacular rebelutionary dreams can be one of the hardest things of all… and how this can bring glory to God. It’s great that you can see God’s purpose even through things like this.

  • That is so neat how you served your family like that! Thank you for sharing!

    This is how I felt when I wanted to start a blog! For years, I had wanted to start a blog for teen girls. I told my parents, and they said no. Multiple times. Last year, I felt so crushed when they again said no. I was like, “BUT THIS IS MY DREAM! THIS IS MY PASSION!”

    It was hard to realize that God was telling me to wait. 🙂 This year, when I asked my dad, he said, “Yeah, I think we can do that.” A few months later, in June, I got to start my blog! Looking back, I realize how unprepared I would have been to start it last year. I’m so thankful for the way God guided me and the way He closed doors!

    Thank you for writing this and sharing your story! It was very encouraging! 🙂

    • So glad it was encouraging!
      And thank God for parents’ wisdom! They definitely saved me from lots of wrong decisions which could have been very threatening to my life!
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

  • Good job, Dorothy, both for the article and for doing the hard thing God has called you to do even when it’s not what you had in mind! Are you feeling better yet?

    • Thanks! I am very thankful for the strength God has provided me with!
      If I’m careful I am no longer dealing with life-threatening health issues, but my illness still has it’s difficult times. Lying in bed just enough to keep my focus on the Lord.
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

      • Keep pressing on! I will try to remember to pray for you. My sister also is dealing with a chronic illness right now, so your story hits close to home for me.

  • Thank you Dorothy for writing this…I don’t have a debilitating illness but have faced a lot of closed doors (some due to a concussion last year but still many are closed now) and this was so encouraging to hear. I am currently living at home and working and it is hard not to be out there doing something big or chasing a dream. ~Anna Grace

  • Wonderful article Dorothy!! You speak the truth so clearly. Keep writing!! God had you born in an era where you can proclaim His truth right from your bed via a keyboard.

  • Dorothy, you never cease to inspire me with God’s word and work in your life. I am so blessed to call you my friend, and I can’t wait to see how He uses your listening and rejoicing in Him to impact you and others watching you.

      • I saw it shared and when I read the bit about your illness and living on a farm I started freaking out a little bit because I had a sneaky suspicion. I scrolled up to see the author and there your name was! I miss you too!

  • Dorothy,
    Consider yourself blessed, for many go through their whole lives and not learn what you have shared.m they are so busy setting ‘their’ goals that they believe are God’s design that they often miss vital time in serving God in all things, everyday, every hour, wherever we are.

    I so empathize with your chronic illness as I too have had my life turned around by chronic illness. It took me a long time to adjust to living this way, as I had spent the last three decades raising children and actively in youth ministry. I couldn’t understand why God removed me from that. I struggled with whether I had been disobedient to The Lord. It took me probably five years to get to your point. I must be a slow learner but in total surrender to His perfect will in my life, I decided that I was to thank Him and rejoice in Him. In spite of my disabilities, He never took away my responsibility to serve Him in my diminished physical capacity. It freed me up to accept His way not mine.

    I pray the best for you. He is always faithful.

    Thanks for the great post!


    • Thank you so much for the encouragement! I am so blessed to have parents who have pointed me toward God and away from my self! Keep rejoicing in Him!
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

  • WOW! Thanks so much for sharing this. I’ll be praying for you.

    It’s nice to be reminded that the seemingly little hard things really are important and that God uses those things to model and develop us. I should stamp that truth on my forehead or something!! I’m one who’s anxious to do big hard things, but I almost refuse to do the little things. Sad really! Thanks again for writing and reminding me to do what God says, however small or insignificant it may seem to me.

    • Thank you for the prayers! So glad it was a good reminder. It’s something God has to remind me often.
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

  • Dorothy,

    Thank you so much for writing this beautiful and inspirational article, I am so glad to have seen this and read it. Although I didn’t get to know you well during my time in NCFCA, I am proud of you and your story. Thank you for putting what all of us needed to hear into such an amazing post. Thank you for reminding all of us who read this that no Matthew what happens, God has a plan. No matter how much it seems like closing doors.

    “When God closes a door he opens a window”

  • This is so beautiful, and so encouraging! Thank you so much! I will definitely be praying for you, but am so thankful also that you are seeking to be proactive in doing all that God has called you to do, even if it’s not what you would have planned. <3
    I also have a chronic illness, and while I sometimes manage to do the things that look big to other people, I've struggled so many times with what if – what could I have achieved if I didn't spend weeks debilitated, what if I had never had to drag through periods of depression -wouldn't that have been so much better to be able to serve God with? Couldn't I have done so much bigger things? But after years of struggling with it, the answer has become clear. In God's perfect plan, my weakness and inability is PART of His plan, part of bringing glory to Him! It's not an accident that He hasn't figured out how to fix; but something He allowed, and is using to shape me for the things I'm going to do in the future. And in the trials and difficulties, things other people take for granted (like the seemingly simple task of deciding to go rest when I need it), the many times when I have to care for myself and sleep instead of doing awesome stuff, it's okay. This is what God has called me to do right now – to be a good steward of the life He's blessed me with, and to honour Him not despite the hard things, but because of them – because I know all things work together for His purposes. You've encouraged me greatly, and I pray that you are blessed abundantly in the beautiful, overlooked calling of serving God in the unnoticed ways, and in the incredible ways that He is moulding and shaping you through these seemingly small days. A scripture that spoke to me on this when I was struggling one time was Zech 4:10 (NLT I find clear in this one), and the fact that we should not despise 'small beginnings'. When we also follow Christ's calling, even our steps of faith are cause for rejoicing! 😀 If you're interested in chatting (and have time!), I also live on a small farm, enjoy memorising scripture and writing! Our sheep wool is all stored waiting for us to get time to card it though, hehe 😀
    Blessings! In Christ,

    • I am so glad I could encourage someone else struggling with an illness! I’ve began to wonder if I’m the only young one out there who struggles with such things. Okay, not quite, but we seem to be out numbered, but so very blessed!:) Your comment was also an encouragement to me! Definitely understand the hard decision to rest when needed! Thank you for sharing the scripture, I looked it up right away. Mmm, would love to chat, but I do not have Facebook.
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

      • Definitely understand what you mean, it sometimes seems everyone else is healthy and able to live life, so it is a blessing to know that there are others who struggle, and we can encourage each other along the way. 😀
        I love Scripture so much, and it is my lifeline when I’m bed ridden or not coping, and my joy when I’m doing okay, so I love sharing it to in the hope it will bless others like it does me. 🙂 Its so amazing to see the power of God working through His Word against the lies of Satan in our lives!
        Do you have an email address? I can comment mine and then remove it when you get it if you’re interested. 🙂
        God bless you!
        In Christ,

  • Thank you for sharing this. Its so on time ans spot on….I have had such a great hunger to tell the whole world the truth and thought that I would do something great for the world and be a big shot in journalism. Turns out there’s another part of me that I was ignoring and God showed me through sickness and affliction and hardship and betrayal of freinds that I need to get alone with him and seek his face and reach the loved ones that surround me by using the gifts he gave me…God is the builder, he is the one who works things out and always gives a way out from temptation and also can help one get through the most difficult of circumstances.

  • What a blessing to read your work again Dorothy! You are a gifted writer and I hope you will continue to use this talent for the Lord! There is much you can do from the computer! Keep us posted! Let us know when you get other things published! Reader’s Digest could use good stuff like this from a great person like you!

  • Thank you so much for writing this. Everyone needs a good “theology of suffering” and it was a huge encouragement to read yours. Plus I love your writing style. 🙂

  • I can say nothing more than what the last dozen people have commented. Thank you, for I have struggled with my own disabilities though they are not as chronic or debilitating as yours.

    May I ask what is your illness?

    • I glad it was a blessing to you! I would love to share what my illness is! It’s a highly unknown and hard to explain illness, that’s why I didn’t name it in the post, but I’ll do my best here. It has multiple names, Chronic Inflamatory Response Syndrome, or mold illness, or Environmental Illness. Basically it’s when the body cannot deal with mold and or chemicals and so inflames to a lesser or greater degree. They are still working on researching it quite a bit, but what I experience is anything from headache, earache, itching, adrenal fatigue, etc. to not being able to breathe, temporary paralysis of the legs, heart trouble, etc. when I walk into a moldy building or come in contact with chemicals. And of course I have many more symptoms if I would list would take ages.:) At any rate, before we had our house remediated from mold I had constant heart trouble and experienced multiple BP crashes, and was able to do little. I am so very thankful for the work I can do now around the house and some on the farm, but living in VA almost every building I go to knocks me out pretty good, and also reacting to people clothing from a moldy place or chemicals, so I’m unable to get a job or anything like that. Our house still bothers us some too. So I kind of ride the waves, and my body is still weak from the constant mold exposure from our house. So yeah, hope that makes sense!
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

  • I showed this to my older brother who is a senior in high school and has cerebal palsy. TY SO MUCH! It encouraged both of us a lot

    • What a blessing the Lord has given to me to encourage others! So glad it could encourage y’all!
      By His breath, Dorothy Elaine

By Dorothy Thompson
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →