Our dream has died. And we couldn’t be happier.
At the end of 2022, my wife and I closed the home bakery we’d started five years ago. We dreamt of being a place of rest and joy in the community, but it did not come to pass. And while it’s sad, we also know it was God rescuing us from a tarpit of our own making.
I wanted to briefly share this story to illustrate how God can love us by saying, “No.” Maybe you’ve heard him say that, maybe he’s saying it now. I hope reading our story helps you make a little more sense of your own.
The Good Ol’ Days
Why would two people buy fifty apples? Because they were 30 cents a pound! But yeah, it’s a bit much, so we baked the rest into pies and sold them online. And that’s how Mama’s Best Bakery was born.
My wife loved baking, and we noticed that our town had a shocking lack of real bakeries. Oh, we had baked goods, but…don’t get me started, I’ll just rant in an unchristian temper tantrum.
Anyway, she became a baker, the face of the company full of joy and laughter. I was the businessman, planning things out and keeping the budget. We used real ingredients, not boxes, and wanted to fill people with joy, not just sugar. We believe people deserve good food, and good food nourishes the soul, and gathers people around the table.
And it worked. For five years, we loved our community the best we could. We never made a ton, but it helped us stay afloat. And we finally did a fundraising campaign to get some capital to start a real brick-and-mortar bakery! We even had a location picked out, and people begging to be our employees.
And that was the exact moment everything went wrong.
The One-Two-Three Punch
The first punch came from the economy. Between 2021 and 2022, our little town saw the US inflation and said, “Anything you can do I can do better!” Suddenly, our successful fundraiser wasn’t enough.
Our location fell through. Others were too expensive. Other still simply never made good on their promises. Months after we should have opened, we hadn’t even found a spot for the bakery.
But there was a second punch, a great poison that had always existed in the bakery which we had always ignored: trauma.
I can’t give too many details here, but my wife finally came to terms with trauma in her past, and how the bakery was stabbing the wound over and over by forcing her to throw herself under the bus again and again with no end in sight because she didn’t deserve to be whole. She needed to tear herself to shreds to make everybody else happy. Or so she thought. A good therapist helped her heal, and my wife realized this bakery was demanding too much.
The third punch went right to the babymaker. Literally. Endometriosis. My wife had surgery, and in those many weeks off, she finally rested, and listened to God.
We had a lot of talks, and a lot of prayer, but the Cliff Notes version is that we realized the bakery could not be the community bastion we dreamed it would be. Everything was going wrong, and my wife was not well enough to keep going. I had also started graduate school, and had no time to help anymore.
We felt God telling us to close our doors, and let the dream die.
What the Heck, God?!
I resisted it longer than she did. God had given us this dream! He showed us how we could love our cheap, shortcut-loving, Walmart-mentality town by offering real food and treating people like, well, people, not wallets.
If God gave it to us, why would he take it away?
The same reason he promised David a crown, then made him hide in the wilderness for years. Twice. The same reason he told Abraham he’d father a nation…long after he died. The same reason Moses wandered in the wilderness before leading the Israelites in the same wandering.
Because the dreams of God are his and his alone. They are his to flourish in his own time, and to end in his own time. We cannot grasp the plans of God with hands of flesh.
Why give us a dream, lead us with a carrot on a string, then drop us? I’m sure there are many reasons, and I don’t claim to know them all, but I believe one reason is because every time God leads us somewhere with a dream, it is always, ultimately, to him, not the dream itself.
God led us into success, then showed us the cost to keep it. Would we choose the gift God gave us, or set it aside to rest in his arms instead?
My wife chose the Giver. In time, so did I. We surrendered the dream God gave us because God was leaving that dream, and we wanted to follow him instead.
How Does This Help You?
First off, I have to pause and address the pain of losing a dream. For my wife, dropping the bakery was a joyous experience. She mourned the loss of the dream, but not the harsh reality. She now has a chance to heal, and I have a chance to focus other things God is calling me to.
But for you? It may not be so easy.
If you’re in a place where a dying dream is utter agony, please read this other post I wrote on that very subject, when I, too, lost a dream. Read the steps I listed for grieving, and healing your soul. Please, don’t just soldier on to something else. Heal first.
Yet the hope I want to share, the reason my wife could find joy in this loss, is that God always sticks life on the backside of death. God never says “No” without a “Yes.” If he’s taking something from you, it’s because he has something better to give: himself.