Tonight I am contemplating how difficult it is to let go of dreams, even when it is clearly in one’s best interest to do so. This spirit was brought on by watching You’ve Got Mail. I love this movie and have watched it many times. It is a romantic comedy and, as such, it ends on a happy note. Yet, much of the movie deals with the struggle of a young woman to keep afloat the children’s book shop her mother opened 42 years earlier. Eventually she makes the difficult decision to close the shop. She feels that her mother’s dream has died. She expresses her despair to her Internet pen pal as, “People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened.”
The movie resonates with me because I know the feeling of having to decide to discontinue being in business. In our case, we sold our business rather than closing it. Several years ago my husband and I opened a restaurant in a small town. We had high hopes and great expectations that this business would be enjoyable, support our family, and be handed down to our children. The business was profitable but not exceedingly so. We worked hard and it consumed most of our family time. There were days we enjoyed it, but many days it just felt overwhelming. Over time it became apparent that we were not cut out to be business owners, and we decided to sell the restaurant. It was not an easy decision. On many levels, we felt like failures. Fortunately, a buyer was found and we walked away with our finances and credit in order and returned to more traditional employment.
I watched You’ve Got Mail many times during the months we agonized over what to do and the ensuing months between putting the restaurant on the market and closing the deal. We weren’t being forced out of business, yet I empathized with Kathleen Kelly’s struggle and felt her despair. Ironically, after watching the movie tonight, I got on Facebook and saw that a local business woman has decided to close her business after 10 years. I am acquainted with this woman and know how hard she has worked to make her business a success. She is a gifted seamstress and makes unique and interesting handbags. However, her business was hurt terribly when the economy crashed and, although the economy has recovered somewhat, her business has not. Many people in our area are concerned about another government shutdown and/or furloughs. Others have seen their insurance premiums rise as the Affordable Care Act proves to not be the solution to the healthcare crisis. Many others are simply more cautious with their money, having struggled through significant periods of unemployment. I am sure that other factors played into her decision to close the business. My heart aches for her, even as I recognize that this is not the end of the world. It is, however, the end of this particular dream.
My husband and I have had a good life since selling the restaurant. I don’t regret the decision at all, yet there is still a twinge of pain in remembering the death of that dream. Neither do I regret the decision to open the restaurant. New doors have opened for me because I have had the experience of being a business owner. Today I assist others in evaluating whether business ownership is the right decision for them. If they decide to move forward, I assist them in writing their business plans, applying for loans, developing marketing strategies, and making other decisions about their businesses. I have valuable insights to share from my experiences in opening, running, and selling my business.
My friend will move on and find new dreams to follow. I hope that she will look back on her period of business ownership as a good experience and that she will have learned many valuable lessons that will guide her as she moves forward. Someone posted on her Facebook page the comment, “When a door closes…a window opens!” That was certainly true in our case. Closing the door on our dream of restaurant ownership opened other doors and allowed us to choose a path that was better for us. And I believe it will be true for my friend, as well.
My husband and I are blessed to have built our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. We know that God has a plan for our lives and we trust Him to guide our steps. Some times the path is rocky and filled with trials and disappointments; other times the path is smooth and filled with triumphs and joy. Either way, our hope is in the Lord. In Jeremiah 29:11, we read, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” We don’t know what the coming year holds for us. We look forward to it in anticipation of new dreams and plans as we strive to follow God’s leading.
Whether you have let go of a dream or are trying to make a new dream come true, please know that God has a plan for you. He wants to help you make the dreams He has for you come true. I pray that 2014 will be a year of letting go of old dreams and making new dreams come true.
What dreams is God placing in your heart for the coming year?