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.