“When you were a girl, how many kids did you want?”
My daughter asks this question one night before bed.
“Four” I say. “I always wanted four.”
“But you didn’t get four, you only got two,” she says.
“You don’t always get what you want in life,” I reply.
I don’t tell her about the years of infertility or the hard road to adoption or the cancer journey that delayed our dreams. I don’t tell her that despite what Disney says, dreams don’t always come true.
Our lives take twists and turns we never expected. But we find there is grace in the unplanned journey after all.
I have a list of friends whose lives did not turn out like they expected, whose spouses died young, who could not have children, who ended up divorced, sick, or working a dead end job.
They are learning to find God’s plan in the unexpected, to thrive even through life’s worst circumstances.
These friends teach me that the real key in life is learning to find contentment and joy in the midst of unfulfilled expectations.
But for every person whose life didn’t turn out, there is someone else whose life appears to be perfect, or at least “Facebook perfect.” The news about their kids is always flattering. Their family pictures are stunning. Their life, in short, is storybook.
When we start comparing our lives with others, we will always fall short. We will find the one thing that didn’t turn out the way we planned. Our failures feel magnified when we look at other people’s success.
When we put our focus on what we don’t have, we start listening to the negative voices in our heads that tell us we are somehow not good enough, not deserving enough, just not enough.
There is danger in thinking that we have to be good enough. It suddenly makes our future something we control by trying to become a better person. It discounts God’s role in our life circumstances and twists our heart into thinking that anything good that happens is because we made it happen. But the Bible says,
In your heart you plan your life. But the Lord decides where your steps will take you. (Proverbs 16:9 NIRV)
When we live with that truth being the central point of our lives, we live with far less stress and far fewer comparisons.
Because no one is good enough, kind enough, or smart enough to deserve His grace. The real truth is I deserve wrath, not grace. I deserve hell, not heaven. And yet, I get both grace and heaven.
I don’t have to be good enough. I only have to live holding my dreams and expectations loosely, believing what will come is better than what I want.
As I kiss my daughter to sleep, I cover her with blankets and then turn out the light. I leave her with her dreams, to find her way in the dark just as I have.