A Dream & Reality Collision
“I paid $20 to go volunteer in Caleb’s classroom today. I sit with a glue stick and construction paper and wonder how this happened to my life.” - Thoughts after paying a babysitter for a couple hours in my son’s Kindergarten classroom.
I was going to live a glamorous life- just like in the movies.
I just knew I was going to be perfectly happy and content when I got what I wanted.
Have you ever imagined your life a certain way? Maybe like me, you’ve wrestled with feelings of frustration and comparison, as you’ve examined your life and measured it to your ideal. Perhaps you know what it feels like to be endlessly striving for what you want when God might be calling you to set that dream or desire at his feet.
Have you ever been mad at God for not giving you what you really wanted? Have you ever doubted his goodness or even his existence when life took a crappy turn? Have you ever felt guilty for not being more grateful? Have you ever tried to hide the fact that you feel like a mess when you think a better Christian wouldn’t be? Have you ever wondered if you made a wrong turn somewhere along the way?
I’ve learned (often the hard way) that I don’t submit very easily. My wants. My dreams. My desires. My life. I don’t raise a white flag of surrender without a big fight. Even if the one calling me to let go might just be the holy creator of the universe.
I’ve spent a lot of time delighting in my dreams. Not as much time delighting in God- especially when I didn’t get my dreams.
I am convinced that most of my childhood was spent in contemplation of the way my life would look when… When I was an adult. When I was married. When I was a mom. When I had a career. You could say, I unwittingly dreamed up some incredibly unrealistic expectations.
From an early age, I was drawing and writing. I was making up stories of places I would travel one day. Places like China, Hawaii and the mall. Apparently we didn’t go shopping enough. My mom always lovingly suggested I write about something I knew. But I never did. What was the point of imagining a story if I couldn’t dream of something fabulous and foreign to me?
One of my biggest dreams as a child grew from the romantic notions I gathered from classic Hollywood movies and a creative art supply of scissors, butcher paper and old department store catalogues. I remember spending hours combing through pages of colorful bedroom sets, settling on one that I liked, cutting out the glossy page and pasting it to a butcher paper cutout of my “dream house.” Someday I would have a huge house with at least six bedrooms on the East Coast. I’d travel via train cross-country to visit my family in Washington State. My huge home would have a long tree-lined driveway, a pool and a guesthouse in the backyard so my parents could visit. I’d have a maid and a butler. I would be a famous writer. Oh, and then I’d fall in love with a Cary Grant incarnate-type and have four beautiful children who would come home and visit us for the holidays.
My childhood notions were pretty detailed in my mind because I spent hours meditating on them. As a little girl, I could imagine in my mind’s eye having four model-worthy kids and even the joy of them coming home as adults at Christmastime. Yet, I don’t recall EVER having dreams of actually raising those children.
God has a sense of humor.
My life today looks very little like the fantasies of my childhood. Most of my dreams never came to fruition. And the dream that did come to past- those four beautiful children? Yeah, I’m living in the raising them part. The doing that I never imagined. This isn’t the picture-perfect happily-ever-after life I envisioned.
I never imagined my life like this. NOT EVER. I didn’t get everything I always wanted.
I got better.
I’m learning to delight in the LORD through the ups and downs of the life he’s given me. I’m living an amazing life. And I couldn’t imagine being happier or more content as I trust him with my dreams and desires.
God writes the best stories. His dreams are way better than my wildest ones. I’m still learning that lesson one crazy awesome day at a time.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
It’s a daily struggle, but I pray my heart’s desire is different now. I want to want God more than anything else. I want His heart. I long for it. I am after it. To paraphrase the great romantic heroine, Anne of Green Gables, “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.”