rebelling against low expectations

When Your Dreams Die: Walking Through Grief and Finding Courage to Dream Again


When you hear the word dream, what immediately comes to mind? For me it’s Disney’s 2010 animated film “Tangled.” The humorous, perilous, and romantic retelling of the classic Rapunzel fairytale is all about dreams– chasing dreams, worthy dreams, frivolous dreams, and dreams coming true.

We all have dreams, childhood longings, and future hopes. You may find yourself staring out into space with stars in your eyes as you think about what it would be like for those dreams to come true. I know I’ve done such daydreaming countless times.

Sometimes we come to a point in our lives when we must find new dreams. Dreams may come true; your article gets published, you marry your high school sweetheart, or you get to meet your hero. Or, we may grow out of dreams. When I was a little girl, I wanted to open my own restaurant, but now I look back and I laugh at my young heart’s antics. That dream is now tucked safely away as a memory and I’m free to pursue a new dream. Other times–times that aren’t so pleasant–dreams get smashed before our eyes. Our dreams slip through our fingers like melting snowflakes. And other times, dreams die. How we can we find the hope to make it through the grief and find a new dream?

Dead Dreams

Kaboom. Like a bullet through the chest, your heart feels it when you watch a dream die before your eyes. The boyfriend or girlfriend you thought was the one breaks up with you. A job is torn from your fingers. The rejection letter lays in your numb fingers. A miscarriage may break your heart. An illness steals a friend or parent’s strength–or your own. A divorce may tear your family apart. A suicide may cause you to question everything. Your dad may never get to walk you down the aisle.

I have felt this feeling. I know what it feels like to have your dream torn from you so you have nothing to aim at, no target to shoot at, and no compass to guide you. I have stared at the broken glass in my hands as my true north is swallowed up in fog and all you can do is the next right thing.

I’ve watched as a dear friend climbed into a moving truck. I’ve watched as my mother stayed sick when no one could tell us what was wrong. I’ve watched a mentor turn out to be a monster. I’ve feared how my family will buy food. I’ve wondered if my family will have a place to live. I’ve questioned what God could possibly be doing when I’m trembling on the bathroom floor wracked with panic because I’m supposed to go to college in the fall but can’t even sleep in my own room.

Path Through the Fog

When our dreams die, there’s one thing worth doing. In fact, it’s the only thing we really can do: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

When our lives are torn from our control and there’s nothing we can do, we’re left with little choice but to trust God with the outcome. Sometimes that means we must patiently and trustingly watch as He reveals one small stepping stone at a time. All we can do is slowly step from one stone to the next, trusting that even though we can’t see where they’re leading, God does. And maybe, just maybe, that path will lead us to a new dream. Share on X


Jesus says in John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Sometimes our dreams are like seeds. The seed of your dream may have to die for the tree of God’s will for you to grow and bear fruit. Singer-songwriter Kari Jobe wrote a song called “The Garden,” and it has given me hope amidst dying dreams:

“I had all but given up. Desperate for a sign from love; Something good, something kind, bringing peace to every corner of my mind… I realized you never left, and for this moment you planned ahead, that I would see your faithfulness in all of the green… Now I see redemption growing in the trees. The death and resurrection
In every single seed.”

Some dreams are seeds that God has planted in the garden of your heart, and that means they will have to die. However painful that death is, we must remember the resurrection that’s coming on the other side – whether that means God will give you the miracle you begged him for or give you a new dream that’s even better than the one before, because it’s His will for you. A doctor’s appointment may leave you crushed at the prospect of being childless forever, but God may water that seed until it grows into a beautiful adoption journey that brings him so much glory by giving parentless children a dream come true.

New Dreams

I’ve always had dreams…and I’ve watched many of them die. But, through those deaths, God has given me the courage to dream things I thought would be too good to be true or never thought possible. Some dreams aren’t meant to come true; they were only ever meant to be a stepping stone that would lead you to God’s perfect will for you.

My mom is healthier than I can ever remember seeing her. My parents both have jobs they love. We own our own home. I’m a part of a church that is full of godly adults who love me and want to see me grow. I’m on a medication that God has used to empower me to battle my anxiety. It was all those crushed dreams that inspired me to write. The deaths were painful–the lost friends, lost jobs, lost security. But the tree that has grown is bigger and more beautiful than I ever dreamed.

When you’re lost in the dark with no stars to wish on, when life is like a black and white film void of all color, when gravestones take the place of your goals–always remember, the seed that you thought had died will grow into a tree.

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About the author

Abbi Langille

is a young writer and editor here on the Reb from Nova Scotia, Canada. She enjoys writing both fiction and non-fiction, taking every spare moment to jot down an idea on her laptop or a handy scrap of paper. She has an addiction to story, whether that means getting lost in someone else’s or creating her own. She has a passion for shedding the light of hope in the darkest nights of those struggling with anxiety, depression, and grief. Abbi is currently studying at Kingswood University in order to acquire a Bachelor's degree in Theology, so that she can make theology available to young people through her writing.

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By Abbi Langille
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 →