When God Crushed My Dreams, Not Once But Twice

Coming from a family where my dad and uncles served as professional soldiers, it was my desire to continue that legacy when it was my turn to enlist. (My country practices conscription, where every able-bodied male would need to devote two years of their lives to serve in the military.)

I would never forget the first day of my enlistment. While others despaired and griped about losing their personal freedom, I was brimming with excitement. It was the start of a new adventure and fulfillment of a childhood dream. To top it off, I was enlisting into my country’s elite special forces, an honor that few had the chance of attaining. On the first night of my enlistment, I gazed out of my barrack window and whispered a silent prayer of thanksgiving, “Dear Lord, thank you for this opportunity of a lifetime, help me do well, and watch over me during my trainings. Amen.”

The first three months of basic military training was tough but fulfilling. Due to the nature of the training and time spent together, I built firm and fast friendships with my fellow teammates. The good streak I was experiencing continued as I graduated top of my cohort with the Best in Physical Training award. It was an exhilarating feeling and one of the happiest moments of my life; I thanked God for blessing me. I was assured that this was the career the Lord wanted for me. In the second part of my training which involved jumping out of planes, I earned the stripes to become a full-fledged paratrooper.

But everything changed in a flash. It was a regular day back in camp and the weather was fine. We were told to head to the airbase in the afternoon to clock-in a jump.  I proceeded as normal, reciting the jump procedures and checks in my mind as we headed to the airbase. I leaped out of the aircraft in excitement but just as I was about to touch ground, there was an abrupt change in wind direction. I landed heavily on the wrong footing and fractured my foot. All at once, my bright new beginning was shattered to pieces. My pursuit of a career in the army came to an end and it was the start of a long recovery period. I lapsed into a depressive state.

It was during that time that a good friend challenged me to keep occupied in hopes that any form of activity would take my focus away from my shattered dream. I was at a loss, nothing was worth pursuing anymore. Why would God allow me to have the time of my life, pat me on the back with an award but then take it all away? I felt like the butt of a joke (not a very funny one). That same friend suggested that I consider teaching as an option. I scoffed at the idea—I was a terrible student growing up and would never want to be at the receiving end of all that nonsense I had put my teachers through.

A few months passed and I began to feel restless. With each passing day, I felt a growing need to do something. I finally decided to give teaching a shot. I applied online to be a relief teacher at a primary school and got the position to teach for a year ( the form teacher of the class was away on maternity leave). I wasn’t too excited about the teaching opportunity but told myself to stay positive and be open to anything I could learn from the experience.

Within two months of teaching the first class I was assigned, I fell in love with both the job and the students. Teaching and interacting with the students helped me overcome my depressive state and I felt a renewed sense of purpose and direction for my life. After recovering from my injury and getting my fitness back, I asked to take on physical education classes for the school and started on a correspondence graduate program in Sports Science so that I could work and study at the same time. My goal was to complete my graduate studies and then join the Education Ministry as a full-fledged physical education teacher. This was what God was preparing me for, I told myself. I prayed to God for guidance and for opportunities to build good relationships with my students and colleagues. Things went smoother than expected for the next four years and I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing. Colleagues and family members continually affirmed my decision and lauded my passion.

After graduating with a sports degree, I applied to receive proper pedagogical training and to be emplaced as a graduate. In a second cruel twist, the ministry rejected my application for emplacement as a graduate teacher. Words cannot express the disappointment and frustration I felt after getting so close to a fresh start in my life. I felt God was being very unfair to me, slamming not just one door but two in my face. Once again, all that affirmation I had been getting all this while counted for nothing, or so it seemed.

A number of years have passed since those days. I wish I could say that God has since granted me one of my dreams but that is not the case.  I’ve learned to accept that He has other plans for my life. It was during those two trying and difficult periods in my life that God humbled me and helped me see that His ways are always higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9). Despite planning and relying on my strength, God showed me that He is ultimately the One in charge and I can do nothing without Him.

If you know what I am doing now, it would seem like a mismatch. Unlike my previous experiences, I don’t consider myself strong in my current role. But this is exactly what I need so I can remember that God’s grace is always sufficient in times of uncertainty and helplessness. God’s strength is best manifested through my weaknesses, just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Through it all, God has carried me and proved faithful for His glory’s sake.

Photo credit: Jef Harris / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

4 replies
  1. Christine
    Christine says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Ian. It’s not easy to remember that God has a plan when things don’t go our way. Thank you for reminding me of that, and reminding me that my weakness is God’s glory.

    Reply
  2. C
    C says:

    My dreams were crushed a long time ago but till now God hasn’t done anything in my life that could replace the feeling of fulfillment and I oftentimes find myself thinking negatively how selfish God could take something good from my life. Now even the relationship I cherished has been taken away. I still feel hurt and angry. Does He want me to let go of everything I worked for and loved? Why would He want to leave me empty and broken like this?

    Reply
    • Jan
      Jan says:

      As Apostle Paul said so wisely: ¨”Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Ph. 4:11-13. And, In everything give thanks. Rejoice always. in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Th. 5:18. In other words, rejoice not just in the good times but in the bad times as well. We can’t prevent all bad things from happening to us, but God can make something wonderful out of what seems like a shattered life. So don’t give up in these difficult times of your life. Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Asking for prayer from others helps a lot. This is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Soon you will be able to comfort others with the same comfort that you have received from God. who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Cor. 1:4 God bless you.

  3. Meltdown
    Meltdown says:

    Seriously I don’t think he really cares about me anymore. I am a terrible child and I spent all my life acting like a stray dog He feeds and that is it. I tried so hard for my dream since like, high school and each year I got rejected by one or two publishers because they hated my work until I really made it by sending my work to an online fiction site. And that was when everything started to work perfectly when it comes to ruining my head and my life, I was too proud (so it was basically my fault) and my writing career was totally ruined, and then I shifted to writing scripts for smartphone games but that did not work either because my patron was a damnly terrible artist who did not give a damn (dirty word) about the script writing people (and I couldn’t do anything for that or I would be the one who got criticized even if I was so mad already after I ruined my own career for one year and a half).

    Then the most talented person I hated/admired in my whole life, my fault again for not being calm and nice and peaceful, got married, and I felt like the world was turning on me. I can’t write anymore, I can’t fix my mind either because my head is filled by the unfinished fiction I sent to that online site. I have no idea how to fix myself or my relationship with God either because I feel like he is simply playing with me by granting what I want and suddenly taking more away. I can’t really pray like what I used to be anymore because I am so scared about how God would give me something I want just for taking the thing away from me. I deleted nearly all my SNS account but whenever I thought about those things I cry and the only thing I know how to is to make useless protests through prayer. I am not getting anywhere and I have no idea where I am going either. What if God simply wants to see me die because that is exactly his will?

    Reply

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