Friday, March 13, 2015

"Dreams Aren't What They Used To Be" - The Killers

When I was a kid, all I wanted to do when I grew up was get married and have babies. No really. That was it. And it felt like a really. big. dream. I played house waaaaaay past the time that it was cool (I had the most amazing life sized baby doll that I secretly played with until I was...12? 13?), I dreamed about what my wedding would be like and practiced my post-wedding Greeting Line Etiquette in the bathroom mirror (with my shirt pulled back over my hair, natch), and thought constantly about what it would be like to be married. I imagine that kids who wanted to grow up to be teachers, engineers, inventors, and architects did similar things when they were kiddos as well, except that instead of sweeping floors and pretending to cook they were...I dunno...cradling their graphing calculators? And probably playing school. And like...practicing their Nobel Prize acceptance speeches.

The point is, that I thought that I had my life planned out. It was linear, it was clear, and it was simple. 

Step 1: Meet perfectly lovely man who wants a family and who will love me like someone in a Shakespearean play. Or "While You Were Sleeping." 

Step 2: Have perfect wedding where everyone tells me how pretty and lucky I am. Laugh knowing, tinkling laugh and exchange lots of "Right?" looks with new husband. We are PERFECT. 

Step 3: Move in to perfect Levittown-style house with new husband who now wears adorable work suits and carries a pipe around. Think Atticus Finch but also funny. Wear aprons as I glide around home dusting and singing to the birds outside our windows.

Step 4: Have brood of perfect little stair step children who will play in the yard and chase the dog (also, get a dog). Keep my figure post-baby while also eating cake and pot roast.

The thing about dreams like that, though, is that they're not real. Life doesn't work like that, for any of us. Teachers get discouraged and burned out by the system. Architects end up designing the new updates for McDonald's and Dennys franchises. Engineers wind up in middle management, stuck in meetings all day and giving performance reviews. Inventors...I don't know what they do. Invent things for the "As Seen On TV" aisle of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I s'pose.

I got married to a wonderful, AMAZING man. No really, The Hubs really and truly is the BEST. WAY better than ol' Atticus and WAY funnier. He's kind, thoughtful, and gentle hearted. 

So I got that part of my dream. I really did. And I'm SO grateful every day for that. None of the rest of the dream would mean anything if I didn't have him. Granted, our "meet cute" happened in a bar so not exactly the stuff of Shakespeare or Sandra Bullock, but oh well. 

But the wedding? It was a disaster.

And that house we moved into? More like a run down apartment followed by a dilapidated old house followed by a house in the boonies that had FLEAS when we moved into it followed by the home that we currently live in which is, actually, pretty great unless it's cold outside. 

And those little stair step children? Well. They sort of happened. We had our sweet Violet who left us after three short days. She was followed by 3 siblings who never saw daylight and who we'll have to wait until the hereafter to meet. Then we had our Little Man and he is everything. He really is the best of both of us rolled into one sweet, funny, kind, chatty, amazing little person. 

Why am I sharing this list of woe with you? This barrage of crushed expectation?

Because the story that I'm living is so much better than the one that I wrote back in the day. The story that God is telling with my life isn't about me. It's not about what I want and what I need. It isn't about my expectations or my desires. 

My story is about a young woman who grew up too slowly before she got married and had to learn to humble herself. It's about a married couple who have gone through absolute and literal Hellfire and not only survived it, but came out on the other side holding hands. It's about showing the world that, in the face of the worst loss a parent can experience, Jesus really does lead us on. We can stand because He holds us up. My story is about the fact that, when life brings you loss after loss after loss, we can all choose who we want to be - bitter or better? Broken or built up? Looking down into the dirt or looking up into the dazzling light of the sun? 

My story isn't about meeting the perfect man and being gifted a perfect marriage. It's about fighting tooth and nail to create something unique and breath-taking that makes both of us not just happy, but holy. We are sanctified every time we kneel down to serve each other rather than standing on our own demands.

My story isn't about creating perfect little anonymous children. It's about being gifted the children that God knew that I needed even before I knew what was missing from my life. Before she was born, I wouldn't have chosen the path we had to walk with our Violet had I known beforehand where that path would end up but oh, I wouldn't miss having known her for anything in the world. I wouldn't miss being her mommy and I wouldn't want anyone else to be the one who held her as she was ushered out of this life. I was and am deeply blessed just by having been given the opportunity to love her. And our Little Man is just the best balm to my soul that I could ever have imagined. He lights up my whole world just by being in it.

So, the big question is: would I have been happier if I had just gotten everything I'd asked for back when I was cradling my lifeless baby doll and dreaming of my perfect wedding? Would I be a better person if I'd just gone down my list and been able to check everything off?

I don't know for sure but I don't think so.

We learn from all of the parenting books that kids value what they work for more than what they're just handed for free. I think that that's true of adults, as well.

Everything that The Hubs and I have in our relationship we have fought for every inch of the way. Every blessing that we're given is magnified and valued ten-fold because of what we have lost. Every new gift, every new day, every experience that we can have with our son is that much more precious because of what we have missed out on. We love deeply. We apologize quickly. We hold hands more often. We communicate more. We cry more and laugh more and touch more. 

And I don't think that that could have happened had I been spoiled by Heaven. Instead, I was lavished with a sanctifying love that burned like fire at times and soothed like aloe at others. It made me take notice and kept me from getting numb to the good things that life offers. It made me better than the me I was before all of these things that I thought I didn't want. 

And I'm grateful that I was given what I needed instead.