I’m currently mourning the loss of a dream. My heart is hurting, and my soul is confused. Until now, it’s been too hard to even talk about. When exactly the dream started, I can’t say, but it started over a year ago with a dream of having a space where like-minded women could come together in a physical space that was warm and inviting. I wanted them to have access to an environment where they knew there would be people to visit with, but also with quiet spaces where they could come to work on their goals—whatever those were.
Mourning a broken dream can feel a lot like grieving the loss of a friend.
The first time I shared this vision with my husband, it was a bit into COVID. He’d asked how I thought COVID could impact thee plan, and I explained that I’d been hearing from women who had been involuntarily moved to work-from-home, who missed being around others. (I’m an introvert, so I can’t fully relate to that, but I certainly know enough extroverts to know that being in seclusion for over a year is enough to make anyone ready to escape the house!) As I described the space and collective I’d been dreaming of, he was fully supportive. We prayed about it, and over the next several months, God filled in all the colors and details of this dream.
We live in a city of 74,000 which is tucked into a community made up of 18 other cities, totaling 250,000 residents. It’s the best of both worlds. Small-town friendly, with access to plenty of culture. Within Appleton, there is a property I’ve passed hundreds of times and always admired. It consists of a white, two-story farmhouse sharing one acre with a small 2-story barn. It’s quaint and beautiful, on land that’s peaceful yet is the only barn yet standing within a thriving town. In the midst of my praying and dreaming, I was beyond thrilled in October, when a “for sale” sign hit this yard. It was the perfect space.
No time was wasted before ou first walk-through with the realtor. It was absolutely gorgeous. …The barn, I mean. The house had a sweet charm to it. It wasn’t perfect but it was unique and had plenty of potential. Armed with a degree in interior design, I was certain I could love it just as much as the white barn that was just across the driveway. I could already fully envision the barn as a place for growing, healing and socializing. It had ample space for one office for meeting with counseling and coaching clients, but also had a larger open space and loft where I would group furniture to create workspaces, reading nooks, and gathering areas for women to enjoy. (There was even a beautiful outdoor patio where I planned to have tables and a few swing chairs for a quiet escape.)
There was just one (very large) complication....
I wrote a letter to the owners and told them my vision. We visited the property again, made multiple calls to the town, spoke with the owners for over an hour on the phone, and put in an offer. The number of things that occurred over the next month where God was clearly opening doors and lining things up are too many to tell here, but there was one big complication that stood in our way. The barn was maintained and listed as a commercial-approved building within a residential zone. The prior owners ran a business out of it and had invested a considerable amount of money into renovating the barn to meet and keep code. However, while they were told by the town that this commercial permit would transfer with the property, the town told a very different story.
It seemed that the “Barnhouse” (as we lovingly called it) had become a bit of a bee in the town’s bonnet. They’d gotten numerous phone inquiries about the property since it hit the market, each potential buyer presenting a different business plan and intentions. The man I spoke with said they’d shot every one of them down but said mine sounded promising. I was hopeful. I kept praying.
Days later, I got a call back from him, stating that he talked to his supervisor, “and it was a no-go.” He would offer little reasoning but said only that the current commercial permit would terminate with the sale of the home, and that the town was not interested in entertaining further businesses running out of it. So, when we put in an offer that was below asking price, explaining the town’s stance and high-risk we were taking on by hoping to win the town over, and be granted the opportunity to present our plan to the town board, the owners were unwilling to reduce their price, being told by the town that the building could be used commercially.
We made another offer. More phone calls. Waited. Prayed. And oddly, both my husband and I said repeatedly that we both felt we were to wait it out…that we shouldn’t give up and that it would somehow be ours. For six months, we prayed and dreamed of all the ways we could use the property to bless other people.
And then a few weeks ago, we walked to what we the Barnhouse, talking along the way about the next step. Another offer. We asked each other, should we be “waiting on God” or had He already answered, and we just needed to step out in faith and trust that He would work things out? We’re no strangers to risk and aren’t risk-adverse, but we also didn’t want to be reckless or get ahead of God. While we were torn between these two perspectives, we agreed that someone it would work out; we just didn’t know how.
It was a windy day and it felt like time slowed down and the atmosphere changed as we turned the corner that the property sits on. I heard the wind and at the same time that I felt the air knocked out of me, I saw a red “SOLD” sign dangling by one corner from the “for sale” sign that had been there for half a year. We both stopped abruptly. Neither one of us said a word. We just stood there for a minute before I felt the sting of tears in my eyes.
For the past week, I held out hope. I thought perhaps it wasn’t over. That somehow, it would still work out. The irony of seeing someone I knew well elected on as the town supervisor seemed to say that God was working thing out. Yesterday, when my husband reported that the signs have been replaced with signs for the company hired by the new owners to paint the house, I saw that it’s no longer listed on the realtor websites. I felt the air leave and the tears burning again.
“And we know 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
I trust God. I believe Romans 8:28 literally, knowing He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. I also know we have free will which often gets in the way and prevents some of the good things He has planned for us.
Remember that God's "no" is protection; not rejection.
I’m unsure whether this was a case where God said no out of protection, or if it was our own lack of faith that kept us from stepping out into where He was leading us. When God led the Israelites out of slavery, He parted the Red Sea for them to reach the promised land, but they still had to walk in faith in order to get through it.
So often, when we feel a leading or a calling from God, we get stuck in the cycle of questioning and overthinking. There’s a time for praying and a time for action. I’m currently reading The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus (highly recommend it!) and the day my heart was hurting after seeing the sign, I read this:
“People who are constantly praying about everything may be doing too much talking and not enough listening. The point of prayer is response. And once God has spoken, you don’t need to pry about that anymore—unless, of course, you are trying to change his mind. There are things I don’t need to pray about anymore. I already prayed about them. I know the answer. What I don’t need is clarity. What I do need is courage and conviction.”
Ouch. And yes. So, this is the crossroads of dreaming big and stepping into God’s calling…but only part-way. We all get it wrong sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up. I may never know whether we lost this opportunity because God was protecting us from something we’re unaware of, or because we prevented ourselves from the opportunity God was drawing us to. But I do know this: God and our relationship with Him is bigger than any dream (broken or otherwise) and He is a good, good Father. Thankfully it’s never too late. He’s the God of second chances, and He if this dream was from Him (and I believe without a doubt that it was) He will finish the work He’s started.
Need support with your dreams?
While I don’t have that physical space yet, I do have a virtual one! Both individual clients and members of Rising Soul enjoy ongoing support while setting, vetting, and getting goals, while keeping Christ in the center of their lives. Schedule a free consultation and I’ll show you how coaching can help you step into the life you were created for.