Consider your dreams.

Have you ever had one so big that made you think if it ever came true you would feel complete? A dream so big that no other dream of yours matched up to the imaginary fulfillment this one dream would bring? Me too.

Don't get me wrong, dreams are not a bad thing. In fact, I once read that the size of your dream determines the size of your God.

God honors big dreams because big dreams honor God.
— Mark Betterson, author of Chase the Lion

God wants us to not only dream but to dream big dreams. Dreams that make us feel small enough to remember that we need God, that without Him even pursuing them would be impossible. But what God doesn’t want is for our dreams to define our identity. Life is not measured by a compilation of dreams coming to pass or not. We were not created to chase dreams simply for mere fulfillment. Therefore, your identity is not confined to whether or not your dreams come true.

Good news, everyone. We can already identify as being successful because of Jesus. 

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57 refers to success as “victory.” I love that word, victory. Merriam-Webster defines victory as an “achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties.”

Let’s just stop right there. That means because of Jesus, we have already overcome all the odds formed against us. We don’t have to face defeat or difficulty because Jesus already did (when He died on the cross for us). Isn’t that amazing?

 Well, up until two weeks ago, I didn’t realize this also applies it to my dreams. 

For several years, I chased what I now call false victory. All my life I grew up dancing and for awhile I thought dancing was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but I was hardly the most technically sound, musically innovative, or long and lean of dancers. Most career opportunities involved having one or all three of those factors so the chances of me dancing professionally were slim. I believed the lie in my head that said making an NBA dance team would be the pinnacle of my dance career. So year after year, even after multiple rejections, I went down that same road again and again. 

One year I made it to the finals. It felt incredible. About 40 dancers were chosen as finalists out of 150-200 that initially come out. That year I was very close to making the team and was told my chances were high, but at the end of the week long audition, I blew the final performance and was cut from making the team. Recovery after this much rejection, especially being so close to the finish line, takes so much out of you – emotionally, mentally and physically.

Fast forward two years after that defeat, I had to make a pivotal choice. I was doing so well in my career and had the opportunity to be promoted. Meanwhile, I was also spending more time getting involved at my church. Taking on what would pretty much be another full-time position as an NBA dancer didn’t make practical sense. So I put my dream on hold.

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Last year, I revisited that dream thinking that it was the right thing to do. I told myself that pursuing it again would be proof to others that persistence always pays off. So, I invested a lot of time and money into preparations. From working privately with a dance coach to spending hundreds of dollars on the audition glam (hair, makeup, outfit etc.). When the day of auditions came, I showed up and gave what I thought was my best package, but I didn’t even make it back to finals and was cut that same day.

I did what most other dancers do after such a defeat – eat all the calories you starved yourself of prior to auditions. I also cried multiple times. Then I swallowed that moment and walked away. 

Here’s where I made a mistake. I accepted this as “God’s will” for me and believed I had enough strength inside to move forward. What I didn’t know was that my heart was in a place beyond brokenness. It was in a shattered mess. A mess that I blindly swept aside and abandoned into a motionless pile of defeat.

I needed healing and I needed to recognize that. 

I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever audition again and truthfully, I was pretty sure I was just suppose to let this dream go.

Recently, through a series of rapid events I felt God speak and the circumstances of my heart changed. That shattered mess I had unknowingly abandoned began to pull back together from that pile of defeat. I felt like God was saying to dream again. Dream again… not for mere fulfillment but that I might truly know what having victory through Jesus actually means. 

Auditions for the 2017-2018 Warriors Dance Team just passed and guess what. I made it again to the finals. And then…

Yeah you guessed again, I was cut. But you know what? I now have peace. 

Before, I thought I was on the path to victory by letting this dream go, but God had bigger plans. Auditioning again was supposed to happen and the outcome was made by no mistake. I know it was absolutely God’s will. Everything just felt different this time than all the ones before. 

Not making an NBA dance team is one of the best things to happen to me. I had to go through the process again in order to heal my heart and know true victory. To heal from past rejection and to gain the success that comes in knowing where my identity is found. 

In the process of the auditions this year, there was an awakening in my heart. One that made me brave enough to dream again and dance again. To dream bigger dreams, bigger than dancing for the NBA, and to just go for them fearlessly and boldly. To dance and not stop dancing, ever, knowing that it is a gift that was given and I don’t need to be on a team to use that gift.

Of all the years, this was my greatest audition yet. I mean, I nailed all of my performances. In a matter of weeks, I grew as a person, inside and out, met so many beautiful women I now call friends and gained victory in a place where I was defeated multiple times. 

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For these reasons alone are why we should go after our big dreams. We should focus not on mere fulfillment but on what God's purpose is and who we become in the process. Then there won’t be room for fear of failure because we already have the victory. Had I made the team this year, I wouldn’t have known this wonderful and amazing truth; that I am already successful and my identity is not found in the completion of my dreams but in the victory found by pursuing them.

In my journal, I wrote a more personal entry on my experience including what victory now means to me and I wanted to share that part with you. So the next time you decide to pursue your big dreams, I hope this encourages you and helps bring healing where you once faced defeat. 

Victory is healing.

Victory is surrendering to God.

Victory is experiencing grace.

Victory is abounding in love.

Victory is having bravery.

Victory is a decided heart.

Victory is joy in every season.

Victory is having peace in the midst of a storm.

Victory is my identity.

Victory belongs to God.

Dear heart, don’t be afraid to dream and to dream again. 

Love, L

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In God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying. 
— Mark Batterson, author of Chase the Lion

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