How To Get Up After Your Dreams Are Crushed

Written By Josiah Kennealy, USA

One of the biggest life hopes I had when I was a kid was to play professional baseball. That dream was shattered when during my freshman year of high school, I was cut from the high school baseball team.

This made me feel like a failure in life; I felt so small and I wanted to hide. My identity was wrapped up in being a baseball player. I desperately wished my life would be different from the sad reality I was in.

I’m sure that you can relate to this feeling of emptiness inside you when you’ve had a dream crushed. Maybe it was a break-up, or a situation that didn’t turn out as expected. It could be that you failed a class at school, lost a scholarship, or didn’t get into your dream university. Or an injury that took away your abilities.

There comes a point where you will want to get up from the knockdown. For me, this happened when I received encouragement from my parents and some close friends. I started to redirect my energy towards other projects: working a part-time job and getting more involved at church. I ended up working at that part-time job for over eight years, which really helped build my career and my skills for the future. And the people I met at church have since become my inner circle of friends.

When you do find some strength to get up, here are three steps that can change the game for you:


1. Look up.

A while ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land and walk where Jesus walked in Israel. I’ll never forget waking up next to the Sea of Galilee, seeing the foggy mist rise off the water as the sun came up in the morning, and seeing the rolling foothills. That morning, I read from Psalm 121:1-2, in which King David wrote: “I look to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

 Anytime I have a tough meeting, a terrible day, or feel stuck and helpless, I do one thing: I look up. I pray the prayer of Psalm 121 and recognize that my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Even though my circumstances don’t change in that instant, my perspective does. Looking up gives me help, confidence, and hope of a brighter future. It heals my heart from heartbreak.

Failure is not final. The creator of futures, the giver of dreams, and the restorer of promises—our God himself—is where your help is found. He may restore your dead dream, He may give you a new dream, or He may simply give you the strength you need to face today. So, look up!

Ever since I returned home from the Holy Land visit, I have had a small card taped to the ceiling of my office. It says: “The Sky Is The Limit.” It’s only when you look up, that you begin to realize that the sky is the limit, and your perspective changes.


2. Reach up.

What if your situation hasn’t changed?

I’ve found that the next step after looking up is to reach up. God has extended His hand of help faithfully to generation after generation; He won’t fail you and turn His back on you. Another psalm that offers hope and a promise is Psalm 94:14: “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.” You are not abandoned and you are not alone.

So reach out and receive God’s strength. You have not disappointed the God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. God may let your good dream die because he has something different and great in store for you. One way of looking at your situation as you reach up for help is to ask yourself the question: “What is God showing me?”

Sometimes, God helps us by providing people who can help. I’m in my twenties, and I’ve found such help and hope from mentors who are in their forties, fifties, and sixties. They have offered insight, advice, a listening ear, clarifying questions, and encouragement.

One of those people who has been a constant encouragement is my high school youth pastor. Pretty much any time I’ve failed, experienced a setback, or found myself discouraged, I’ve looked up, and then reached up by reaching out to my friend, Brent. Time and time again he has pointed me to Jesus and reminded me of God’s faithfulness in my life.

Who is someone who can help you take the next step? Mentors can come in the form of teachers, pastors, supervisors, parents, grandparents, among other wise people. God has placed the right people around you in your life—reach up to God and others for help!


3. Dare to dream again.

The biggest life-lesson I learned from getting cut from the high school baseball team was that there was more to life than athletics. God can give you a new future. God redeemed my brokenness in a few ways. First, He gave me a second chance. When I got to college, a small Division III university in Minnesota, I went for the open tryouts for the baseball team . . . and I made it!

Beyond one baseball season, God gave me a new dream that was bigger than just me—and it was selfless. This dream came one summer afternoon after reading the Bible, praying, and day-dreaming in my parents’ living room while on a break from college. God showed me a motion-picture in my head of what He wanted me to do with my life: Reaching college students and young adults for Christ! I could see thousands of young people on their knees, bowing before the God of heaven and reaching up to Him in surrender, experiencing personal breakthroughs in their spiritual lives.

I’ve never felt more alive than when I am working on the dream that God has given me. Through my daily time with God through His word, prayer, and worship, I grow in my love for Him and find joy in Him. Also, every time I meet a college student one-on-one, pray with a young couple, or speak to an audience of young adults, I see a partial fulfillment of that dream God gave me. It brings such a smile to my face and my heart to know that this dream is from God, for God, and coming true through God!

Just like God gave me a new dream, He may have a new dream for you. Letting go of past hurts, heartbreaks, and hang-ups can be hard. But dreaming again starts with looking up to the heavens, where your help comes from. Then it’s reaching up to God, the lifter of our head, and to mentors, friends, and family members whom God has placed in our lives to bring wholeness and healing. Lastly, you need to be brave enough to dream again.

A Shattered Dream Isn’t the End

A fairy princess? A queen? Those may be some of the typical titles that little girls aspire to, but that wasn’t me.

Believe it or not, my dream was to become a “physical therapist missionary in Africa”. That childhood aspiration pointed to my early interest in the field of rehabilitation, but also, my belief that I needed an exciting or even unusual life in order to be useful to God.

I felt a little adrenaline rush from stories like Daniel in the lion’s den and accounts of modern, brave missionaries meeting jungle tribes. “Wow”, I’d think, “God can only work through super-Christians like them.” My life, on the other hand, often felt too pleasant and ordinary to be of use to God.

It’s true that being willing to risk losing your own comforts, reputation, and safety for the sake of Jesus can be a precious gift that yields extraordinary returns. But what about the more or less mundane lives that many of us have? Can a mostly-ordinary life be of use to God too?

My plan to become a physical therapist missionary changed slightly over the years, but even through graduate school, I remained committed to the hope of one day joining a team of rehabilitation therapists. I intentionally made sacrifices for my educational goals, fully expecting my chosen priorities to result in a life well-spent. Despite my goal-oriented and focused quest, an unforeseen event caused my life to go in a wildly different direction.

Up till about five years ago, I had subconsciously visualized what a self-sacrificial and well-spent life dedicated to helping whomever God set in front of me would be like. I expected my years of sacrificing sleep for exam-prep to open doors to an exciting and useful life.

Then I got into a near-fatal car accident.

Instead of becoming a licensed provider, I was the recipient. And instead of caring for those in need of therapeutic intervention, I had to humbly receive it.

Now, having completed years of focused rehabilitation, my life is back to normal, even mundane, and is far from what I had anticipated. But I am encouraged by the many stories in the Bible of those whose lives took dramatic turns away from their plans, and were eventually used by God in ways beyond their imagination. For example, we usually marvel at the disciples’ experiences and their years of intimate interactions with the Savior, but even their lives weren’t always so interesting!

Peter, a disciple of Jesus who later became a pillar of the church, spent his early career as a simple fisherman. Although we’re not told about these quieter years in Peter’s life, surely they were still purposeful in preparing him for his great calling. Even the young woman Mary, who became the mother of Jesus, may have felt somewhat insignificant going about her day-to-day schedule, unaware of the great honor about to be given her. And going further back in Biblical history, the story of Abraham is recorded. While he would become the “Father of many nations”, there was a time when Abraham and his elderly wife didn’t even think they could have a child.

As many other Biblical and historical accounts prove, our God loves to work magnificently through the weak and the most unlikely of circumstances.

I’m not making predictions about my future career, but I’m in awe of what God has already accomplished through the hardest time in my life. I am still amazed by all the chances I’ve been given to speak and write about the clinical and spiritual applications of what I’ve learned. I still aim to return to the world of clinical rehabilitation and believe I have a unique perspective to offer that community. But I have grown to recognize my current reality as valuable, too.

So let’s not minimize the miracles God can accomplish during a relaxed coffee date or a quiet hour of reading. While His work may certainly include adrenaline pumping, dramatic conversions, He is not limited to the stories we would label as thrilling. However quiet your life may seem right now, please don’t underestimate the eternity altering potential of your current journey.

Inspiration. Dreams. Passion

Title: Inspiration. Dreams. Passion
Materials: Pencil Drawings
Description: What inspires you? How are these inspirations influencing your goals and dreams? What can you do this week to invite God to be a part of your dreams?
Contributed By: Brothers Ink



Get Inspired: What causes, issues, and interests do you find yourself coming back to over and over again? Make a list of these things and reflect on how God may be calling you to use them.




Dare to dream big: Involve God in the process and listen for His guidance. Pray over your list of dreams and goals. God will reveal the path meant for you as you dive into His Word and watch for His leading.




Fuel your passion: Share your dreams and goals with trusted friends, family, or mentors — seeking wise counsel and building community with your fellow dreamers. Talk to your loving Father for guidance and relationships that keep your eyes focused on your unique purpose.




Artist Feature | Brothers Ink


Brothers Ink is made up of three people: Julian and Oscar
Ramírez (we’re brothers) – and our friend, Gabriela Monroy. Growing up, we’ve all shared the same passion for art and creativity, and we each have personal stories of how God met us at our lowest points. Now, we want to tell others about God and show that He is real and that He exists.  

We hope to be relevant in today’s secular world – not boring or cliche. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we want our art to convey that everything in life comes from God. Everything we do is because of Him, through Him, and for Him.

Oscar Ramírez: I’m an illustrator and photographer from Colombia, studying graphic design. I first encountered God at the age of 9 when a relative brought me to church. My relationship with God started during the period my parents were going through a divorce.  

Julián Ramírez: I’m an illustrator, and graphic and web designer from Colombia. I became a Christian at 16 when my younger brother, Oscar, shared with me about his own relationship with God. At the time, I was struggling with drugs and alcohol and was drawn into church when Oscar shared with me about God being his superhero.

Gabriela Monroy: I live in New York City and am a close friend of both Oscar and Julian. My relationship with God began at the worst time of my  life six years ago when my grandmother died in a tragic car accident. In my depressed state, God met me and showed me His love and joy.

Why I Cried Over A Dream

It was still fresh in my mind when I woke up that morning. It wasn’t a bad or sad dream. In fact, it was one of the sweetest dreams I’ve had in a while.

I was sharing a chocolate ice-cream cone (that wasn’t why it was a sweet dream) with my father. And for some reason, I remember that it cost $50. That’s all I recalled when I woke up. But that was enough to trigger the tears.

As I brushed my teeth, it hit me why I was crying. The moment I opened my eyes, I knew that the joy I felt in my dream of sharing an ice cream with my father was not going to come to pass in reality.

It has been two and a half years since my father passed away. I thought I had finally got used to his absence but that morning proved otherwise. And although it was not the first time I dreamed of him, seeing his face and smile in the dream made me realize how much I miss him—and that I am still grieving.

I remember how surreal everything felt in the weeks after my father left us. I thought I had lost my capability to feel anymore. Nothing interested me, made me happy, or frustrated me. Aside from an underlying feeling of gut-wrenching loss, I was emotionally numb. Life felt meaningless without my father and the future ahead felt like a big, black hole. There were even times I wished Jesus would quickly return or that my mother, brother, and I could suddenly die together so we could all be reunited in heaven and not have to go through life without my father.

But God used time and routine to sustain us. Gradually, I began experiencing everyday emotions again: happiness, anger, frustration, jealousy, fear, etc. I felt happy after a good run. I got angry when I had to do extra work because of another person’s shoddy job. I was frustrated when I took the wrong bus and had to waste time. And so on.

Life resumed normalcy and I felt like I had completely accepted the fact that my father was no longer around. It became less difficult talking about happy memories we shared and looking at photographs of him didn’t automatically trigger the shedding of tears. Even commemorating his death anniversary and his birthday (just a couple of weeks ago) seemed to get easier.

But like that morning’s episode showed, the grief I thought had long disappeared had never left. All this while, it had just been dormant, and when I least expected it, it erupted.

On the one hand, I’m baffled by how intense the feeling of loss still is to me. A pendant, which a friend had given to me at my father’s funeral, had these words engraved on it: “This too shall pass.” I originally thought “this” was supposed to mean grief; now I’m not so sure.

But on the other hand, I’m somewhat relieved it’s still lingering around. Because when it comes, it puts all my priorities, worries, and concerns in perspective. The little irritation I felt earlier over something a friend said, or the envy towards someone who achieved something I hadn’t, all become really insignificant and silly non-issues. Grief serves as a very real and tangible reminder that at the end of the day, there is nothing more important in our earthly lives than the relationships we have—with God and with others.

In my moments of intense grief, I am reminded that loss is a rite of passage that everyone has to go through at some point. Everyone will face pain and loss of varying degrees. At the same time, loss is also a stark reminder that there is something terribly wrong with our lives. Death and loss are not meant to be “normal” occurrences; they are the effects of sin in a world that has deviated from how God originally intended.

Also, it’s a sombre reminder that life is short and what I do now counts for eternity. It nudges me to keep focusing on the things that are important but not urgent, instead of the things that are urgent but not important. I’m also motivated to live out my faith and share about Jesus to my loved ones before my own time on earth is up.

These days, I’m learning to accept grief as part and parcel of my life. When it strikes (and I’m sure it will again), I want to be fully cognizant of the fact that this pain is temporary because of what Jesus has done. I will see my father again in glory and till then, I want to live my life well.