How Do you Handle the Fear of Rejection

How to Handle Your Fear of Rejection

Do you have a fear of rejection?

You know that feeling: the sick to your stomach, nauseous feeling.

It’s as if all of a sudden everything ever said of you is summed up in the person’s rejection of you.

It feels personal. It is personal.

If you have felt this emotion before, you have probably got a healthy dose of fear to go with it. A fear of rejection can strangle any dream, vision, or desire in your heart.

It can keep you from the very thing that God has called you to do. All because you have a fear of rejection.

For the last few weeks, we have been talking about our need for approval. We discussed how an approval addict acts. If you are new to this, go take this quick quiz to find out how you rank.

Then we talked about people-pleasing and discovered three ways in which you can quit that habit.

Next up was insecurity and I identified the cycle we can get caught up in when we seek the approval of others allowing our insecurities to get the best of us.

Then we talked about our control issues. Oh, approval addicts can be bad about this. We like to be in control and we like to know that the outcome is going to be people’s approval of us.

And the real challenge for us approval addicts is trying to not be offended when people don’t agree with us, affirm us, or approve of us the way we want them too.

So it only makes sense that this week we start to uncover what it takes to overcome a fear of rejection.

What if?

In 2011, I was confronted with my greatest fear. Death.

A CT scan revealed a carotid body tumor that needed to be removed from my neck. More specifically, the artery on the right side of my neck.

My doctor told me that I might want to live a bit longer before it was removed because removal may cause me to “bleed out.”

Yes, he said those words.

That was the first time I was ever overwhelmed by fear.

Fear that visited me in my daydreams and woke me in terror at night.

The fear of the “what ifs” was crushing me.

After much prayer and research, God led me to another doctor who had much more experience and faith in his expertise so that I did not “bleed out.”

However the surgery was a bit more complex than they thought and after 6.5 hours, 4 units of blood, and a grafted vein from my leg to complete the artery in my neck I woke up feeling like I was drowning in my own saliva.

Fear, yet again, consumed me.

Fear is a tricky emotion in that it not only can have power over your mind, but it can affect every part of your body.

My next days, weeks, and months to come were a battle. Most of which went on in my mind, working my way through overcoming fear.

So I know fear. Fear and I were friends for way too long of a time period and unfortunately can return as an unwanted guest from time to time.

Now, couple fear with a hefty dose of rejection and you have a recipe for disaster.

Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

 Early in 2010, God gave me a vision for an organization that would initiate community transformation by ministering relationally to the poor.

Cullman, AL had been my home for a few short months when God laid this vision on my heart.

Most people I shared it with were not overly excited. In fact, their responses sounded more like this:

“No way would that work. People cannot get out of poverty.”

“If that did happen here, it would not be by you, a woman, only man with substantial power would be able to do that.”

“You don’t know people here. They won’t donate to your cause if they don’t know who your kin are.”

Each of these statements felt like an arrow stinging my pride. I wanted their approval, not their rejection.

I had to make a decision, would I choose to please people or trust God instead.

Kind of like what Jesus said in John 12:42-43:

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in [Jesus]. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

The Pharisees would not openly acknowledge Jesus because they were more concerned with human praise than they were God’s.

Which is at the core of our fear of rejection.

We don’t take risks, go after dreams, or accomplish our goals because we fear being rejected by people.

We don't take risks cause we fear rejection.

We will fear man and not do what God has told us to or we will fear God and accomplish the task He set for us to do.

But we must realize that in either scenario fear will propel us.

We don’t take risks, go after dreams, or accomplish our goals because we fear being rejected by people.

A Different What If

I want you to take a moment and consider those goals, dreams, visions you have and ask you a few questions.

  1. Are they goals/dreams/visions that will make God known?
  2. Do they feel too big to be achieved by you alone?
  3. Do you feel ill-equipped to accomplish them?

If you said yes, to all of these then I would say more than likely they are from God. It will do you well to fear Him and start taking steps forward.

But if you answered no, your focus is more on you than on God and you may want to pray about what you are trying to accomplish.

But here is the kicker, if that vision you have is from God, you have one more “what if” to ask yourself.

What if you don’t do the very thing He is calling you to do?

For me, that answer has become crystal clear. After six years now in the ministry, we serve more than 3,000 people a year.

We provided 18 different programs and services that extend to 23 different locations throughout our county.

Over 12,000 people’s lives have been impacted since we began.

I have my answer.

I’m thankful I chose the way I did.

You can too.

When you know who you are and whose you are, your identity no longer lies in whether or not that person says “yes” or “no” to your request.

You have a choice. God or Man. Who will you choose?

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How I Lost Control | Dawn M Owens | Like Me or Not :Overcoming Approval Addiction

How I Lost Control – Caution: Sensitive Material Inside

This is the story of how I lost control.

It didn’t happen in just a day, or a week, or even a month. Slowly but surely, over time God started to show me how tight my grip was on the things happening in my life. I was strangling His plans and it was keeping me from my future.

I have learned over the years, I have a bit of a control issue. It’s important to me that things look a certain way. Which also means, sometimes, I want people to act a certain way. Because when they do, what I ask them to do, it affirms me. Let’s me know that they approve of me, appreciate me, love me.

But that is not healthy. In the end, I hold people to unfair standards, standards that I would not even be able to meet. The only way for a control freak like me to learn how to lose control is, well, to be forced to let go.

Unfortunately for me, this happened through a series of very hard events.

Our Big Plans

Let me start off by saying, prior to this point, and well, if I am honest, even after this point needing control has been an issue. I am a professed approval addict and well, I have people-pleasing and insecurity struggles, which is why control is also an issue for me. You see if I can control my situation, I can also control whether people approve of me or not. Well, at least try to.

But this was one time I couldn’t make the circumstances work in my favor. You see, this situation was bigger than me. It’s situations like these where God can remind us exactly who is in control, Him.

About three years after we got married, I started suggesting to my husband it was time for us to have a child. I wasn’t getting younger (already over 30 at this point) and being older than him, it was time for us to try and start a family. We went before the Lord in prayer, and both agreed it was time. It wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. That was on a Friday and by Monday, I had miscarried our first child.

We were devastated.

We Tried Again

It took a few months to get pregnant again, but we weren’t going to give up, even though this time it felt scarier. We were nervous that we might miscarry again. But this time we made it not only through the first weekend but up to week eight. This time I was on the job training clients in Georgia when the bleeding began. At the time I lived in Cincinnati and was a long way from home. I called my doctor to find out what I needed to do. After taking a pregnancy test and seeing the line show up only slightly faded, I knew what was happening. To say I was angry was an understatement.

Thankfully I had an amazing boss, and she had me hop on a plane home. As if it was that easy.

What transpired will be an experience I will never forget. In fact, every time I walk through the Atlanta airport it brings back the memories afresh. But it was there in the bathroom stall that I lost our second baby. I could barely speak to anyone. Talking was not an option because deep sobs hung in my throat.

Somehow I made it back to our home airport where my husband waited with a car. I cried all the way home curled up in the back seat. There was a tug of war of the pain between my broken heart and my cramps.

The next weeks are still a blur because I could barely breathe. It was hard to live. I numbed my pain with books, movies, and food. I wanted nothing to do with God because I was so angry at Him. It didn’t make sense. We prayed. We asked Him for the desires of our heart. The Bible says we are to procreate, that babies are a blessing. What did we do wrong?

Tragedy Struck

A few months later the church we were attending, Crossroads, had its annual Christmas Show. This isn’t a dress up the kids and coo over their costumes show, this was the real deal. Dancers, musicians, lights, snow falling from the ceiling. This show could be on Broadway and it would sell out every night.

This year they decided to take the show to a new level and have the Wise Men belay down from the ceiling. One of the performers missed their rung and fell to their death. My husband was on staff and watched the accident happen. He still can’t watch that scene or performances where the performers are hanging from ropes.

Our pastor was amazing. Instead of dealing with it quietly, even though the event made the national news, he brought the whole church together. All ten thousand of us to walk us through the grieving process. He was honest, raw, and real. In doing so, he reminded us of the story of Job.  A righteous man who had done no wrong in the eyes of God but was targeted by the Devil for his righteousness. When God turned him over to Satan, he lost everything. Cattle, sheep, and most importantly children. His response?

Blessed Be The Name of the Lord

He fell down and worshipped the Lord. The Bible captures him saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, ESV) My pastor reminded us that we are not God. His plans are above our plans, His ways above our ways. He doesn’t need to answer to us and we may not understand everything that He does. But just like Job we need to strive to be people, that no matter what our circumstances that we can say “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.”

As sad as I was for the loss of the life of the performer, anger raged in me. I thought, “Why God? Why did you have to take both of our babies? I don’t understand. Why did the teenager who didn’t even want to be pregnant get to keep hers? The drug addict? The prostitute? Surely we were better than these.”

He then had us take the person we had lost, whether it as the performer who fell only a few nights before, or someone else we were grieving and hold them in our hand. When we were ready, we were to lift our hands up in surrender and let them go. God, in His sovereignty, is in control, we are not. Our surrender reminds us of that.

As we stood there, they played Matt Redman’s song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.

My hardened heart began to soften. Deep down inside I loved God. I also knew that He loved me. He wasn’t trying to make a fool out of me or withholding blessings from me. He had a plan, and though I didn’t understand it, I knew it was good. It took me a bit, but looking at my husband I realized the grace I had received. I was a sinner, an adulterer, and a divorcee, and yet my God gave me an amazing man to love me and be with me all of my days.

With tears streaming down my face, I lifted my hands to heaven and with each release let my babies go. In exchange, I experienced peace and freedom.

A New Story

That was mid-December and on New Year’s Eve, on a few weeks later, we were to go out with friends. I considered celebrating with a glass of wine but decided it may be a good idea to check to see if I was pregnant just in case. The screen went from blank to pink in a matter of seconds and I knew, we were pregnant again.

Eight months later, after a rough pregnancy including Braxton-hicks and pre-eclampsia, my sweet miracle child was born at 35 weeks. Sawyer James is our pride and joy. Now eight years old and keeping us on our toes.

I learned a huge lesson that night. Trying to control God, people’s responses to my pregnancy or lack thereof was not going to change our reality. It did not define me as a wife, a mom, or a woman. It wouldn’t determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.

It wouldn't determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.…

But instead letting go and allowing Him to guide our story instead of trying to write it ourselves, made way for the family we dreamed of and the life He desires us to live.

I have had two more miscarriages since then, losing three more babies. But what I do know now, is that God, in His sovereignty knew what my future would hold. I do not have physical children to hold, but since then He has birthed a vision of community transformation and now a book that holds this story and so many more.

Like Me or Not Overcoming Approval Addiction

God is In Control

Let it go. Those expectations you have of how your husband should respond to you. Let it go. Your children will find their way into His arms. Let it go. Your work will continue on without you. None of those things define you, they certainly do not own you, and cannot determine your identity. You are who God says you are. So let it go.

Question: What do you need to let go of so God can affirm the identity He has given to you?

Check out these other posts about approval addiction:
Why I am a Professed Approval Addict
How to Know If You Are Addicted to Approval
Feeling Insecure?

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How to Make Your God Dream Come True

Six Steps to Make Your God Dream Come True

God gave you a dream, and it is scaring the heck out of you. Now what do you do?

It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Ahh…better?

In today’s post, I’ve incorporated six steps to help you get started.

“I have a dream. Now, what?” is the question I get asked more often than any other.

People have seen the dream I had for our community through The Link of Cullman County come to fruition and wonder, “Well, how did you do that and how can I do the same?”

Last week I talked about how to know if your dream is just a big goal or if it was a dream that God placed on your heart to pursue.  You may want to read that post first if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet.

It is there that I help readers understand and know the difference between the two. This week I want to try and lay out some of the steps you can take once you know for sure you have a God dream.

This is where the “rubber hits the road” where the “ax hits the grind” where the “pen hits the paper” to overplay the cliches.  And I hope it makes its point.

Because here is where I see things go south and quick. Someone has a dream, and they talk about it, and they talk about it, and they talk about it. But they never actually do anything.

You Have a Choice

Sooner or later, you are going to have to choose to either go after this big, scary dream you have or honestly, shut up about it.

When The Link started to come to fruition, I had a few people say to me, ” I had the same dream as you. I journaled about it; I have a binder about it, or I told people about it.” I don’t know why it happened to you but not for me.

Honestly, I don’t know why it did either, but I am assuming that your dream was just that a dream and it never transitioned to action.

So that is what I am going to promise you today, I will share with you the steps to help you take action on that dream. However, just like last week, I have a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: I am not God. I have no way of knowing His timing or whether your dream is from Him or not. I also have no idea of your dream is to actually in support of someone else’s God dream, and not something you will get to see come to pass. Think Moses and Joshua.

I do know that there are some teachable concepts that I can share with you that God used with me to help you pursue Him and engage others in your dream.

How to Make Your God Dream Come True | Six Steps to Get You Started

One: Trust and Obey

The best piece of advice I received from someone on what I needed to do next was “trust God and obey what He says” Seems simple, right?

Simple to say, harder to execute.

For me, this was challenging because I had a carotid body tumor removed from my neck which rendered me temporarily disabled.  The surgery caused damage to my nerves and vocal chords.  Which eventually left me with a severance package and no job.

For the first time since I was twelve, I was unemployed and now also unsure of my future. I had no idea what was next except this vision/dream from God for an organization that would serve the needs of the poor.

If I am honest, I was not excited enough about this God dream to go after it. What I was passionate about was serving women through speaking and teaching. I had wanted that dream to come true, nearly since I was saved about nine years prior.  Now I was living in the south where my type of work was not prevalent, Cullman, AL though growing would still be a hard place for someone like me to find a job.

But God’s plans were different than mine. 

So here I was temporarily disabled, unemployed, and trying to minister to a husband whose dream had been crushed by a failed church plant. Confused and unsure may have been an understatement at that point.

So now, here we are in a very uncomfortable place, not knowing what to do and the advice I received in this season was “trust and obey.”

Trust. And then obey whatever God tells you to do. Ugh. Simple and to the point, easy to remember, so I decided to do it.

And it changed everything.

Day by day I would wake and ask the Lord, what should I do today? If I felt Him impress something on my heart, I would obey. If I sat in silence, I’d seek Him in His word.

That daily practice started to lead me to conversations with people about this dream; then I would pray about it more. It wasn’t long before God began highlighting His heart for the poor in His Word. I got my hands on some books that seemed to speak to relational ministries to the poor Then I prayed the all-changing prayer.

“Lord, what would you have me do?”

Two: Surrender the Dream

Which leads me to the next thing you need to do. Surrender the dream to God. Only He truly knows the timing, who is supposed to be part of the dream, what role you are to play, what resources you’ll need, where it will happen, and how it will transform your community.

For me, that looked like taking the dream I always hoped to pursue and put it up on the chopping block with the God dream He now impressed on my heart to accomplish.

It wasn’t long before God confirmed which dream I was to follow.

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, give up the dream I wanted to follow the one God wanted me to carry out.

Both were good. Both would help a lot of people. But one was mine, and the other was His.

I can tell you now on the other side of that how sweet the blessing of surrender has become. Knowing the lives that have been transformed in my community because I said “Yes” to His plan. The relationships I have now have sharpened me and helped me grow in my faith would never have been if I didn’t surrender.

And then when you consider what I have learned, including how to overcome my addiction to approval, I am not sure my path would have allowed me the opportunities I have been afforded, including publishing a book on that same topic, releasing May 15th by Worthy Publishing.

Like Me or Not Overcoming Approval Addiction

Three: People < God

This may feel a bit strange to you to diminish what people are saying. It took me a lot to figure out how to do this because we all need the affirmation of people around us. In fact, God will use these people to encourage us. However, we need to make sure no matter what, that God trumps people. Even when those people are stroking our egos.

Here is why: back in the day, there was this good-looking, smart teenager, from a no-name family, was sent out on a donkey-hunting mission. Unbeknownst to him, God had selected him to be the first king of Israel. He was anointed, appointed, had the Spirit of God come upon Him, prophesied with the Prophets and empowered by God. Regardless, his insecurity and people-pleasing needs made people’s opinions of him more significant than God’s, and eventually, he was rejected as king.

Know who that was? King Saul. (You know the one who was on a crazy chase to kill his replacement, David? You can read all about him here.)

Saul was anointed and appointed to do the dream God had for him in ruling the Israelites, but he let people and their opinions become more influential than God.

This is true when they are affirming us, and this is also true when they are rejecting us. If you know for sure that God gave you this dream, you’ll need to seek Him, trust and obey Him, surrender to Him and make His Words of greater significance than man’s.

Four: Become a Student

One of the essential postures you need to take in this process is becoming a student of the dream. If this dream is from God and not you, more than likely you will not feel equipped to do it. In fact, it may feel as if you are the last person on planet earth that needs to be doing this dream.

That is exactly how it felt for me. This will produce fear. And that is okay.

I had done very little ministry to the poor. I felt like the ministry I had done was not done well and because of that, I felt very insecure, unsure, and ill-equipped. So I went into student mode.

I started with asking more questions of people already in ministry or serving in this field before I assumed my answers. I got my hands on books related to the topic and read as much as I could from the experts. I sought out scripture in the Bible to back up what I was learning to make sure I was on the right path.

Then I found some local classes I could take to teach me about creating a non-profit and marketing a non-profit because those were two critical components in seeing my dream come to fruition. When I knew I had all those pieces in place, I sought out a conference for me to attend to obtain more extensive training. In doing so, I became equipped as a Christian Community Development practitioner.

Five: Stop Talking and Start Walking

When my husband and I were in our pre-dating stage we talked a lot on the phone, being that we lived 150 miles away from each other, it was our only way to connect regularly. Although we visited each other every now and again, they were for short periods of time, as we didn’t stay the night. It didn’t take long for our friends to notice there was more of a connection between us than just friendship. At one point, one of my husband’s friends said to him, “It’s time to stop the talky, talky, talky and do the walky, walky, walky.” I am pretty sure they were quoting out of an Adam Chandler movie, but the point was right. It was time for my husband to take our relationship to the next level and his friend was encouraging him to do so.

Sooner or later you have to decide to do something about your dream. You need to start sharing the dream with people. Start making appointments with people who could be involved with the dream or affected by the dream. Host an interest meeting. Post the idea on Facebook. Figure out what it will take to make the dream happen. More importantly, follow through. If you say, you are going to do something then do it. People are watching you, integrity is critical.

Six: One Day at a Time

From here you need to take these steps and apply them one day at a time. We just celebrated six years of this ministry; it’ll be seven years for me pursuing this dream in October. I employ these steps just as much today as I did back then.

I still need to trust and obey God each day recognizing that He is the dream-maker and I am a steward of this dream, which always leads me to a place of surrender – “Not my will Lord, let yours be done.”

It’s easy to let other’s opinions become more important than God’s. The only way I can accomplish this and the others I just mentioned is by getting into the Word of God every day. Otherwise, I get a bit lop-sided in my thinking.

I still need to be in student-mode. I am committed to being a life-long learner. Taking what I learned and acted on it. Professional development is just as significant now as it was back then. If I let comfort or status quo be my guide before we know it we’ll become outdated, inefficient, and eventually unsuccessful.

The Dream is Greater Than You

You see, when God lays a dream on your heart, it always affects more people than you. When your dream is from God, you have a responsibility to God and the people involved to follow through. There is a lot at stake.

Lives will either be transformed or not.

A change will occur or it won’t.

Communities will be altered or not.

When your dream is from God, you are responsible to God and the people involved to follow through. #Goddream

What will get you up in the morning is not your success, it is the success of God’s glory being made known. It’s no longer about you and your ego, but more about your willingness to serve in the capacity God has led you to with this dream.

You’ve got some big choices to make. You are the one God has selected. The time is now. What will you do?

Comment below: Share what your God dream is (because I love to hear about other people’s dreams) and share what you think your next steps might be and how you will start to see your God dream come to fruition.

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How to Know If You Have A God Dream

How to Know If You Have A God Dream

How do you know if you have a God dream or a big goal that you came up with on your own?

This weekend I watched The Greatest Showman for the first time. It is the story of P.T. Barnum and his dream of starting a museum, later turned circus, for the main purpose of entertaining people. He ended up doing so much more.

If you have not seen it yet, you need to put it on your list of must-see movies. As soon as the movie was over, I wanted to watch it all over again. In fact, I am sure this will be one of the movies that I will watch several times a year, it was that inspiring.

Though P.T. was not a Christian, there are some characteristics about him we can learn from, especially as it relates to dreaming.

Disclaimer: My main goal is to inspire you to do one thing… seek God as you dream. And to do it in a way that aligns with scripture, like Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” and not become like P.T. Barnum. Because at the end of the day all Barnum cared about was making money. That is not why we seek to be used by God, even if it is a by-product of accomplishing the dream.

The Status Quo

Here is what I have been witnessing lately: a lot of people who profess Christ as their Savior, but living a life of the day-to-day expecting nothing more than what they have and no longer willing to consider what could be.

Personally, I think this is an affront to God, the Creator of the Universe, who made all things, who is in all things and is through all things. He dreamed up the light and the darkness, the heavens and the earth, the sky and the land, every living creature and man.

God is a God who dreams and as being made in His likeness, in HIs image, we should dream too. Otherwise, we put to death Ephesians 3:20 and effectively allow the enemy to yield us powerless in seeing the miracles of God.

Now, let me also state, I have learned this over the last seven years. So yes my words may feel a bit blunt, but understand that I used to live where you may be, in the camp of “maybe He can do those things, but not through me.”

GoaltodiewithMemories

What Could Be

But for the purpose of this post, as much as possible, I want you to take captive those thoughts and I want you to see what could be rather than what now is. Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Faith and dreaming go hand-in-hand because we don’t dream of things we can see, we dream of what is unseen, or what could be, eventually.

So that is where I want us to begin, realizing what God can do through us if we are willing acting like Him and dreaming. When we have faith in what He can do and not rely on what we can do.

Which is exactly what Barnum did. He dreamed of things that could be and not what already was. So let’s use some examples from what he did to break down how a God dream works.

8 Steps to A God Dream

1.Seek God
Here is one area thing, we don’t know if P.T. did, for sure. But that we MUST do as Christians; it is non-negotiable. The only way you are going to see a God-dream is to seek the Creator Himself. To do this, you will need to implore a few different disciplines. Bible study, prayer, possibly fasting, patience. God-dreams do not happen overnight, it is usually something that happens over time.

2. Ask Yourself Some Questions
Anyone who is starting to dream needs to take some time to figure out the next steps are in the process. This will help you to gain a better perspective on whether or not you are headed in the right direction. Here are some examples to get you started. But add more and journal them as you go.

  • Where were you when the dream occurred? Both physically and spiritually.
  • Did the dream feel overwhelming and unaccomplishable?
  • Do you believe you could accomplish the dream by yourself with the right financial resource?

3. Are You Afraid?
When God gives you a dream, more than likely the first emotion you will feel is fear. Rightly so. It’s why so frequently you see in scripture where God said, “Do not be afraid.”

When He told Moses He was going to use him to set His people, the Israelites, free Moses was terrified. When the angel told Mary that she would carry the Son of God, he told her “Do not be afraid.” When Nehemiah got word that his city was in ruined he was so upset that he cried, mourned and prayed, and then waited until God opened the door for him to speak to the king. He was scared but did it afraid.

Anytime you have a God-dream, you will be afraid. But you’ll have to decide if the fear of man or obeying God is more important to you. Barnum was afraid at first but was willing to be brave and because of it, he saw his dream become a reality.

4. Sacrifice is Key
Barnum learned quickly that if he was going to see his dream come into existence he was going to have to be willing to sacrifice. For him, it meant all or nothing. For me, in the early stages of founding The Link of Cullman County, it also meant all or nothing. I am not going to say that this is true for everyone, however, it was also true for our friends in the Bible. Moses left the safety of Midian and his employment, Mary left her family and traveled on a donkey nine months pregnant, and Nehemiah – well, let’s face it, if the king was angered at what he said, he could have lost his head.

You will have to be willing to sacrifice something – possibly everything to see your God-dream come to fruition.

5. Your Kingdom or His Kingdom
There is a part in The Greatest Showman where Barnum loses it all. His money, his wife and children, his prize artist (at the time), and his building. They all went figuratively and literally up in flames.

The question he had to ask himself at that moment was whether or not he was ready to rebuild it all. The answer came down not to whether or not he was able to provide the funds on his own, but whether or not it would help the greater good.

Whose kingdom are you trying to build? Will this dream make you look good to your peers, your family, your friends? Or are you willing to pursue the dream because, in the end, you know that God will get the glory in it? How do you know the difference? The Bible says it is in our weakness that God’s strength is made perfect. Are you relying on your own strength, believing you can do this on your own, or do you realize it’s going to be a miracle done by God if this dream is coming to become a reality? Which leads us to the next area of importance.

6. An Individual or a Community
If your dream is a God dream, you will not be able to accomplish on your own and not only need God to do a miracle, but you will have to have others around you. God is a believer in community. He is in community constantly with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He could not accomplish what He did without them. The Apostle Paul talked about community and the importance of it almost every one of his epistles, which helps us to also understand the significance of it to God’s heart. I spoke about this in my post last week. God did not just love one person, His love was for a nation. That nation went into bondage together and flourished together depending on their relationship with God. 

You need others to help your dream come to fruition. They will add to it, speak life into it, pray for it, keep you accountable to it, and make it better than it could have been if you tried to do it on your own.

7. Empowering Others
I loved The Greatest Showman – all of it, but one of my favorite parts is when the Bearded Lady realized she was who she was and people were going to have to deal with it. Keala Settle plays, the Bearded Woman and sings this anthem called “This is Me.

Here is the link to that video, you’ll have to click on the “This is Me” video. If you have not heard this song, go listen to it. It will be a blessing to you, I promise.

But that song is the result of Barnum affirming people who others wanted to hide in the shadows. He saw their oddities, their uniqueness, and placed it on a platform. He accepted them as they were and because of that they felt affirmed. When he started seeing His dream come to fruition, the people he served felt loved, affirmed, and dignified. It ended up empowering people to be who they were created to be, not how society wanted to define them.

This is ultimately what a God-dream should do. There is no larger dream or vision than the one God dreamed for us, by sending His son Jesus to ransom us back to Him. It is only through Him that we have our dignity affirmed. We are righteous only through Him. We are worthy because of the stripes of Jesus.

8. God’s Dreams > Our Own
This is what it all boils down to when it comes to dreaming. God’s dreams will always be bigger than our own. They will and should scare us, we should need other people and it should affect other people. That’s how you know it’s Him and not you.

So now that you have a way to know whether you dream is from God or from you, what do you do? Join me next week to learn how you take your dream and seek God to see it through.

Question? Did this help you gauge your dream against a God-dream? If not, what questions do you have? If it did, what do you want to know now that I can answer for you next week?

 

 

 

 

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hope that is seen

Hope: How Badly Do You Want It?

Some things in life are just worth the fight. Hope is one of them. But what about when your circumstances dictate the exact opposite? Then what?

How badly do you want it? Would you go to battle to see the very thing you are hoping to come to fruition?

And if you are, what will you sacrifice to get there?

Sometimes, when, our future seems bleak, we need to choose to fight. We’ll need to be ready to get uncomfortable to face our fears, and then we need to dig in deep to decide we are not going to lose hope.

If only it were that easy.

Times when our beliefs and emotions vary, we need to find comfort in the tension. Enter hope.

Lori felt exactly like that when she went off to jail for the first time at age thirty-eight. She never thought her life would land up this way, but it did. All she had in front of her was a pile of her consequences.

Lor's Hope in Family
Lori (middle) with her daughter and husband.

Five years before this time, she had a wonderful husband, two children, and life was good. Despite being brought up by her grandparents as a toddler and then later, by two parents caught in the grips of alcoholism. Lori overcame the odds of what could have been in growing up in that environment, that was until her husband went to jail for a year, on a misdemeanor charge. While her husband sat in jail, Lori’s world turned upside down.

Instead of helping her while her husband was away, people took advantage of her. Within a year she was raped twice, and to numb her pain, she turned to drugs.

When her husband came home from prison he didn’t even recognize her. He said to her, “What happened to my wife?”

Her response was one born out of pain, “She died.”

This lifestyle then extended to her husband as life seemed to get worse and worse for them. As she sat in jail, with her future looking bleak, no family to support them, and little in the way of options. Her and her husband, also in jail at the time, decided that they would pray.

Sometimes when there seems to be no way out, the only place to look is up.

Romans 8:24, NIV says, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”

Lori and her husband soon learned that God could provide a way out. In their desperation, they realized they could not go back to the same place they came from or back to the same friends. They needed hope, and it came in the form of rehab.

God provided through family members who had earlier given up hope, but through their prayers, God changed their hearts.

Now, both Lori and her husband are fighting for what their future in rehab. In the midst of what felt like a hopeless situation, Lori and her husband have learned to put their faith in what God could accomplish, not in what they could.

In doing so, their lives changed significantly.

Lori enrolled in a 9-month residential rehabilitation program through Restoring Women Outreach. She also enrolled in our Pure Joy Goods job-training program. In her job-training program, here at The Community Place, Lori uses her gifts and talents to create beautiful pallet art. She takes classes, attends recovery meetings, and is mentored by one of our staff.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick

You can support Lori on her journey to hope, by purchasing a piece of pallet art. For every $10 you spend, it is the equivalent of one hour of job-training and support services.

So how about you? Are you like Lori, recognizing hope exists in the unseen, not in what you currently perceive? Or will you allow your emotions to dictate what you believe your future will hold?

If you want to fight for hope you are going to have to do the following:

  1. Submit your will to God’s, just like Lori did in jail.
  2. You’ll have to believe beyond your circumstance that your future includes hope, and not focus on how today feels. Your emotions do not dictate what God has in store for you.
  3. Cling to the scriptures. You will need them to be armed against the attacks of the enemy as he seeks to deter your faith.

Someday, Lori’s family will be restored, all because she fights daily for the hope of what will be, not what it is today.

Everyone struggles when the situation looks bleak. But we have a choice. How will you arm yourself in battle to obtain the hope you seek? Comment below and let’s encourage each other in our battle for the things we do not see.