28 Jul 2008

Shattered Dreams … Picking Up the Pieces?

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bobby's World, Christian hope, Faith, Hebrew Bible, Hermeneutics, Holding On, Journey, Kingdom, Lamentations, Marriage, Ministry, Suffering

Shattered Dreams

For many years I lived a sheltered life. No not everything was always hunky dory. I mean there was that time my girlfriend’s dad did not like me. There was that time when a certain college said “don’t come around here no more” and my friend Wade wrote (and sang) a song called The Ballad of Bobby V. There was that time when I walked into a meeting expecting to get an extra week of vacation and a pay raise and the elders inexplicably said you need to pack your bags and exit quickly. But through it all I thought I discerned the hand of God.

To this day I don’t know what I was supposed to have “learned” from that ordeal in Mississippi. But I would never have found my friends in Milwaukee had it not been for that … and my friends at Southside were and are friends in deed. God saw us, the Valentine family, through. The wife of my dreams and daughters that would melt the heart of the coldest snake. But you know what, I had no idea what some folks went through that I preached to every week.

But those dreams shattered! I have learned that lots of peoples dreams shatter. Now my dreams were not extravagant. I dreamed of being a good husband. I dreamed of being a cool dad. I did not dream of being rich, powerful or even the keynote speaker at Pepperdine. Like Tobias when he met his bride Sarah … I dreamed of “growing old with the wife of my youth” (Tobit 8.7). I believed these were good dreams.

But those dreams shattered! All the praying, all the shouting at the night sky, all the pounding the floor, all the making deals with God, all the pleading and quoting Scripture … did not unshatter those dreams! Sometimes it makes you wonder where the Father of Mercies is … Indeed sometimes the thoughts I feel … well Tennyson said it better than me …

I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest cloths against the cold;
But that large grief which these unfold
Is given in outline and no more.

It is clear that Tennyson had a Shattered Dream too.

Shattered Dreams hurt like hell. In fact they are hell. The pious wrestle with guilt because they almost feel like they have “sinned” by even thinking the thoughts they think in the middle of that dark night. How do you move forward? How do we handle it when it seems that we never move forward? In fact when we think hell could be no worse we discover that there is at least one more level down!

Shattered Dreams are enough to make us actually embrace the real Job, the angry Job. Job says he had a major problem with God. He desperately wanted to find God to set the record straight.

If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments
(Job 23.3-4).

The desperation of his shattered dreams Job says he will go “east” and then “west” and “north” and finally “south” but through it all “I catch no glimpse of him” (Job 23.8-10).

You know what I have learned? I have learned the best of us are capable of incredible self-serving and self-centered hurtful actions. I have learned that for years I had no idea what it meant to walk by faith. I have learned that though God is faithful he does not answer to me. I have learned that the vandalism of God’s shalom is real and not make believe … and that vandalism, that falleness can rip us to shreds. I have learned that Christian ministry is not about debating irrelevancies like instrumental music but rather seeing that a Crucified (yet Risen) Carpenter is truly King … even in the midst of Shattered Dreams. I have learned that perhaps God is serious when he says we win by dying! That we gain victory through surrender! That “to this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pt 2.21).

One last thing I have learned. I have learned that I hate Shattered Dreams.

I hate them.
I hate them.
And I hate them.

I should count it as all joy. But I haven’t made it yet. How do we not? We continue to Cry into the Night. We search for him believing that he has truly revealed his intention and his power in Jesus Christ … and resurrection has occurred. The New Heavens and New Earth are coming. Hope …

This particular blog is simply a thinking and sharing “out loud.” Take it for what it is.

Seeking Shalom,
Bobby V

31 Responses to “Shattered Dreams … Picking Up the Pieces?”

  1. wjcsydney Says:

    Bobby, I dropped by, started to post a comment and what I wanted to say sounded so trite that I deleted it.

    But trite or not, know that you are read and appreciated.

    Know that you, in sharing your grief, bless us in our walk with Jesus and the trials we face.

  2. Gregory Alan Tidwell Says:

    Bobby, please know that I am thinking of you and hope we can talk soon.

  3. johnmarkhicks Says:

    I hear you, my friend.

    Divorce shattered the dreams that even God had for us….but he creates new dreams as well…and new hope.

    But the broken past still hurts.

    John Mark

  4. Steve Puckett Says:

    Peace to you, my brother. And be sure I’m praying for you and asking that God walk guard duty around your heart. I have found that the pain of the present tends to amplify the pain of the past, but sometimes to give meaning to it as well.


  5. muriel b Says:

    I hate them too. A lot. Things are not supposed to be this way. This was not what we or God had planned. I pray and meditate and think that things will turn around. I feel better and on the right track only to have dreams shattered again by someone else.

    There is a phrase in a recent country music song that says, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” This makes me smile because I know it is true. The other thing I know is true is that “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 God will take whatever mistake we make, whatever stupid thing we do, whatever bad thing someone else does and make something good out of it. We cannot and never will see the whole picture. I am not a “need to know why” person, so it is ok with me that I don’t see. Other friends of mine have a much harder time with that. Faith and trust are a road of mountains and great valleys. If it were level and easy, it would not be worth much. I have to believe that God will take my shattered dreams and make them into something else, something better. (Please understand I am talking as much to me this morning as I am to anyone else)

    If nothing else, right now, your pain identifies you with soooo many other hurting people. We help each other through and take things day by day, sometimes minute by minute. Bobby, you are a very special person and gifted speaker. God has a wonderful plan for you, even as things that you thought were lasting are falling apart. I pray for you as I hope you will continue to pray for me.

    Take care,

  6. cwinwc Says:

    I’m almost afraid to thank you for sharing your faith walk and your “shattered dreams” for fear of God throwing some of the same my way and I know that sounds shallow.

    I have a few shattered dreams like I’m sure most but I don’t even want to equate them to what you have and are experiencing. I do think you alluded to what I’m thinking in talking about your firing from Mississippi and how it seemed like a loss but look how God turned into a gain.

    I’m not saying that is going to happen here but I won’t restrict God. I will say that my favorite song is Matt Redman’s “Blessed be Your Name” and I’ll leave with the thought that you are in my prayers and his lyrics:

    Blessed Be Your Name
    In the land that is plentiful
    Where Your streams of abundance flow
    Blessed be Your name

    Blessed Be Your name
    When I’m found in the desert place
    Though I walk through the wilderness
    Blessed Be Your name

    Every blessing You pour out
    I’ll turn back to praise
    When the darkness closes in, Lord
    Still I will say

    Blessed be the name of the Lord
    Blessed be Your name
    Blessed be the name of the Lord
    Blessed be Your glorious name

    Blessed be Your name
    When the sun’s shining down on me
    When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
    Blessed be Your name

    Blessed be Your name
    On the road marked with suffering
    Though there’s pain in the offering
    Blessed be Your name

    Every blessing You pour out
    I’ll turn back to praise
    When the darkness closes in, Lord
    Still I will say

    Blessed be the name of the Lord
    Blessed be Your name
    Blessed be the name of the Lord
    Blessed be Your glorious name

    Blessed be the name of the Lord
    Blessed be Your name
    Blessed be the name of the Lord
    Blessed be Your glorious name

    You give and take away
    You give and take away
    My heart will choose to say
    Lord, blessed be Your name

  7. Charles Babb Says:


    You hang in there brother. Shattered dreams stink, and Susannah and I have had more than our share – so we do, on some levels, empathize. We just are still hurting thinking of you and your girls and yes, Pamela.

    It is not, by the way, that instrumental music or not is irrelevant but rather allowing ourselves to be defined by them – instead of Jesus Christ – which causes us to be irrelevant.

    The reason is we need Jesus in those darkest of nights and not a debate. We need the light. The darkness is so overwhelming a debate or a doctrinal point will not carry the day. What will carry the day is the relationship like that between Job and God, like that between Moses and God, like that between David and God, like that which we strive for between ourselves and a Risen Savior.

    We bleed for you and have, like you, been gutted in the past by congregations and shattered hopes. This hurt is one on a completely different level though and while we have not experienced it…know it is breaking our hearts as well.

    We love you and your wounded family Bobby – Charles and Susannah

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Romans 5:1
    suffering? yes, broken dreams? sometimes, not always, reconcile? absolutely! This means, move ahead. Bobby, I’ve had my share as well as others, but there is one thing I’ve noticed about making it through living, or as you put it “shattered dreams”, I have so much more compassion and love for the next individual God puts in my path to help along. Try not to hate those shattered dreams, but embrace them, learn from them and move forward so to help the next. Wear your spiritual shoes, and not those heavy earthly shoes. Rise above those earthly matters with a spiritual outlook. Remember, we are here to serve, not to get caught up in sugar candy.

  9. Tyler Says:

    Bobby, know that I am praying for you as you travel through this dark valley, and strive to see the better side of your shattered dreams.

    I also am in the middle of struggling with some shattered dreams. It seems like at the time, the world is going to end, but then I think, “God must have something really amazing in store for me.”

    May God bless you in all you do. You are loved and prayed for daily.

  10. Stoogelover Says:

    Powerful thoughts that ring with relevance to those who can hear it. You have nailed the most painful aspect of walking with God. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your pain.

  11. nick Says:

    Sometimes shattered dreams just “inhale briskly.”

    They don’t teach us anything. They don’t help us to our goals. They just ARE.

    Do we really think that God learned something when Adam and Eve shattered his dream of community? Do we really believe the “felix culpa?” That we HAD to fall so that God could bless us?

    No. We shattered God’s dream, and ONLY evil came from it. We have learned nothing from the Fall, we will become nothing good that we would not have learned or become according to Abba’s will in His trustworthy and wise time.

    I love you, brother, and I am trying to learn to stop playing Aesop every time something bad happens to someone. So just know that I love you, and I’m as close to you as I can be on your ash heap.

    in HIS love,

  12. Royce Ogle Says:


    Thanks for you honesty, something quite rare in this context among preachers and other church leaders.

    It sounds glib, but I have been there, done that. I was once a young preacher, full of hope and expecting a life of full time ministry. Then, out of the blue, the dreaded “D” word came my way. Shattered dreams? You bet!

    The good news is that after that divorce, then the sudden death of my next wife, my dreams have been realized. I have a wonderful wife and co-laborer, a family I never dreamed I would have (including 6 grand kids) and ministry on every hand.

    Keep you chin up Bobby, God is never surprised by our circumstances. Check back in 10 years and lets see how its going. God is up to something and it will be good.

    His peace,

  13. Vonnie Says:

    August will be better. Hang in there.

  14. johndobbs Says:

    I’m with you.

  15. Jeanne Says:

    Hugs to you, Bobby. No words.

  16. blogprophet Says:

    still enjoy reading you, whether personal or not.

    btw–i used your article on Col 2:14 and more or less, “preached it” sunday night, to challenge my group

  17. Frank Bellizzi Says:

    Bobby, I’m so sorry. After my own similar experiences, seems like I’d have the perfect things to say to you.

    I can say that you won’t always feel the way you do now. It will take longer than you want it to, but significant relief will come.

  18. rich constant Says:

    Know what I find interesting Bobbie, is the phrase he learned obedience from the things that he suffered.
    Funny thing God had to learn how to be a be obedient.
    I wonder how far we want to drive that car.
    In some ways is God teaching us, THROUGHOUT our life HOW to be obedient through what we might call suffering.
    i know that i was a hard learner.
    at 60 I feel so blessed that our heavenly father is longsuffering.
    i have finally learned(for the most part) the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.

    Anyway food for thought,
    blessings by rich in California

  19. Veto Roley Says:


    I would love to understand why God allows bad things to happen to His people. God is not a good luck talisman and sometimes, it seems, He is intent on proving that.

    When I don’t understand life, I love to go to Habakkuk. “But the righteous will live by his faith. … I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls. Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” (Hab. 2:4, 3:16-19)


  20. Candle (C & L) Says:

    Bobby – What can I say? Everyone walks their path alone and at yet we are not alone — you are surronded by the arms of Jesus and by a multitude of friends — they can’t prevent or take away the pain and for a season the pain builds a wall against the salve of love and friendship — I pray that this season of shattered dreams will soon end for you – and the healing will soon come.

    God Bless

  21. kingdomseeking Says:

    A dream of mine was shattered when my wife and I lost our first child (he would have turned 6 this coming Thursday – 7/31). I have learned that one never “gets over” some shattered dreams, rather we only learn how to live in the brokenness.


  22. Anonymous Says:

    It just sucks AND it always will.

    The Donkey 😉

  23. Danny Says:

    Bobby, I once resembled your post. Shattered dreams suck big-time.

    God knows that too and that is why out of those ruins he will create for you even bigger, better dreams.

    I know it is hard to realize that now, but you are on this road my friend and there is wonderful light further down it.

  24. Blume Family Says:

    Hey Bobby,

    Thank you for sharing. I know what it means to have God take YOUR dreams and change them into something else. I haven’t suffered exactly like you have, but I do know the pain of letting go of what you always wanted and letting God have the control.

    We think about you and pray for you. Would love to have you and the girls visit us sometime. Also, the Mississippi time may seem a mystery to you, but not to me. I moved there expecting to just “grin and bear it”. I mean, a small C of C in a small town in Mississippi?? But what a great surprise when you were there to challenge us and make us really think and grow. God used you to influence our family. Thank you for that. As for the rest of it, I see it this way – Others had their god-given chance to think and grow too. When they shut the door on that, God said, OK Bobby, time for you to move on. Go where you are appreciated.

    So, hope that makes sense. I hope you will look back on your time there and realize that God had you there for others – not just for yourself. And I hope that you will be happy that you were used by Him.

    We love you!! Hang in there.

  25. Cheryl Russell Says:

    Bobby, we appreciate your honesty very much. I like that you are crying out to God, sometimes a good, loud, crying out prayer goes a long away.

    “7During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:7-8

    We are praying with you!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    The worst of anything you’ll ever endure doesn’t nullify to the joy contained in the gift of your own life given to you by God.

    Similarly, the worst of anything you’ll ever endure pales in comparrison to the immeasurable bliss God offers in heaven.

    So, you’re covered. In life, and in death.

    Stop whining and set your sights on the big picture. The past is done and over with. What good is it to spend any more time dwelling on it?

  27. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Well I did not realize I was “whining.” I will do my best not do that …

    Bobby V

  28. Carisse Says:

    Bobby “anonymous” can call you a whiner when “anonymous” has the guts to sign “anonymous”‘s name.

  29. Tammy Says:

    Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love (Lam 3:32)

    I know that what He has next for you is UNFAILING! Take comfort in knowing that.

    In faithful prayer for you and your beautiful girls.


  30. Anonymous Says:

    In the past year my wife and I have lived through (sometimes I wonder if it really is living) a shattered dream. No hurt like a hurting heart. God’s presence has always been there. this shattered dream has resurrected our prayer life. It’s getting better until I think about it and then the tears flow. You have made it and will continue to make it.
    PS. I have been talking to an old friend of your. John Paul Daniels. he and his wife are coming over for supper this week. I hope to share the word with her. Pray that she will hear and believe.
    Sonny Owens

  31. pfutrell Says:

    Not sure what the Hebrew is for “sucks” but I’ve been there too. Just real thankful that we love a God of second chances, do-over’s and mulligans…

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