I played house a lot when I was a child. We had a square back porch just big enough to serve as the kitchen. Two patches of earth on either side served as the living quarters. The grass was worn away from the pounding of our feet making it easier for me to “sweep.” I gathered dark, black berries and leaves from the edge of the yard—most likely full of poison—that made the best dinner my seven-year-old mind could imagine.
Most days, the role of my husband was played by my tow-headed neighbor. If he didn’t feel domestic, I got to dream one up. I can’t remember exactly who I conjured up while stirring my black berries in the water I collected from the pump house spigot. If I had to guess, he probably had the resourcefulness of MacGyver, the wit of The Great American Hero, the kindness of Charles Wilder, with the good looks of Gilbert Blythe. (Hey, a girl can dream!)
Those days in my backyard “home” were the fledgling dreams of what my adult life would look like—days of keeping house, gathering and cooking, and enjoying dinners of poisonous berry soup with the man of my dreams.
My dream for marriage and family life became loftier as my view expanded beyond my backyard. Movies began to plant the ideas of romance in my head. Now my man not only needed to be a whiz with duct tape, he also had to be able to lift me over his head as we danced to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” Christian romance novels about pioneer men who also loved Jesus left me with visions of a godly man who read his Bible by the fire after a hard day behind the plow.
Suffice it to say, the twenty years of dreaming about married life meant I walked down the aisle with so many expectations for my husband (heaven help my poor husband if we had married in my late twenties). I married a good man. He is cute, he loves Jesus, and he can tape pediatric ventilator tubing with MacGyver-like proficiency.
Still, real married life looks different than my back porch games. It isn’t like the movie or book plots. Marriage is raw, emotional, and doesn’t always lead to a happy ending.
The gap between my dreamy expectations and my reality invite discontent.
Instead of enjoying the beauty of my reality, I fed the discontent by watching the marriages around us. They seemed to live the dream. Imagining a different kind of life left me a most unhappy wife.
Here’s the thing about dreams: they are a great way to cast a vision for the future, but if we use those dreams to define a “good life” we may never find contentment. There comes a point when we have to look at our spouse and appreciate all the ways they make our dreams come true instead of pointing out their shortcomings.
God really did make all of my dreams for marriage come true.
- Eighteen years later, he is still a cutie.
- He works hard so I can stay home and care for my family (minus the poisonous berries).
- He loves Jesus and guides our family to love Him, too.
- He likes to spend time with me (and has never once tried to lift me over his head for which I am so grateful).
- We are raising some pretty awesome kids together.
When I release my childish dreams and enjoy my marriage as the gift it is, I see God really did give me the man of my dreams!
How does the gap between your dreams and your reality shape your perception of life? Maybe disappointment casts a heavy shadow over some of the good. It’s worth the effort to take a second look and see how you might be living the dream.
#FridayFive Link Up
Let’s talk dreams. Share your dreams for the future, ways you are working toward your dreams, dreams come true, or even what you’ve learned when your dreams aren’t realized. You can comment or use the link up button below.
Next week is all about the bucket lists! Hope to see you next Friday!