Childish Dreams, Childlike Faith
Today, my pastor talked about how much he loves boats. If like in the movie “The Kid” his eight year old self showed up, how disappointed he would be that didn’t own a boat.
There are many things I wanted when I was younger that have fallen by the wayside. Dreams that have stagnated. I’m not the only one. I know this dilemma pervades our society, especially among people my age. Hence the epidemic of mid life crises. Life disappointed us. Or we disappointed ourselves.
I have days where the line from the Weezer song, “Troublemaker” rings true. Most days I dread that it could happen, struggle to find ways to keep it form happening. Then others, it’s slap in the face that it is my reality. “Giving up and growing old and hoping there’s a God.”
Except, I hope that God is merciful and forgiving enough for my not being me.
Part of this stems from a statement a college friend once made. We reminisced about the church we attended after college and all the cool experiences we had there. God worked in some amazing ways there. And a lot of us younger folks were given permission and opportunity to do things for the church and for God. we reveled in it.
It was common for us to be told that God had huge dreams for us. That he intended for us to do great things. And I ate it up.
No one ever warned me that the greatest things I might end up doing might just be the most mundane: caring for a sick child, comforting a mourning friend, holding my wife. Had they, I would likely have ignored them. Great things means great things.World changing things.
With twenty years of experiencing life, my friend questioned the fact that everything we were told God wanted of us was huge. Never the simple. Just the spectacular.
Part of me wonders if he is right. Part of me knows he is, that the small things are often the greatest. That our, maybe just my perspective is warped the American worldview that tells every kid they can be the president and when we get older drives us to more important jobs in order to truly achieve something important rather than doing something simpler.
Is it better to be the CEO or the janitor? Not really, but they are viewed drastically differently. Pretend to be both at your next class reunion and watch how people respond.
So, as I look back at all the amazing, earth shattering things I did not do, it’s easy to be disappointed. Artistically, socially, career advancement-wise, all are pretty flat. nothing spectacular.
Were all those encouragements from when I was younger, all those statements about God’s plans for me, were they wrong? Or did I misinterpret what they meant? Or does God have bigger dreams for me and my life but I have grown too lazy to reach them? Or perhaps just became exhausted because the race was far, far longer than I expected and I burned out all my exuberance in my twenties?
In the movie, “The Gallant Hours” where James Cagney, playing Admiral Halsey confronts one of his pilots. The man wants to be relieved of command of a squadron because he failed his last mission, had too many pilots die. Halsey talks him out of it. He convinces the pilot that he doesn’t have to be great.
“There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.”
Will I continue to rise to the circumstances I face? Or will I hide from them? Can I be ordinary and display greatness? Can I be more than me by truly being me in the life I am in? Can I tell this story without begrudging the story I am not telling? Not only do I need to learn to not measure my life against others but to not measure my life against those I imagined.
I think the key to peace is hidden in there somewhere. Maybe some day, I will be wise enough to see it.
That said, what has been taken from me? What have I let fall by the wayside because I did not care to nurture it? What have I given up because it proved difficult? Can I recapture any of that? Or is it gone? Does God still have big dreams for me? Bigger than I have for myself?
Twice, when everything failed to go right, Jesus told Peter to put his net back in the water. Both times he caught so much that his boat almost sunk. Peter, exhausted, had little interest nor hope in dropping his net. Yet he did.
Do I have the courage to try something that is certain to fail? Do I have the faith to try when experience tells me not to? Dare I hope enough to find courage and faith?