Note: Today’s post is by my husband, Chris. We were both recently challenged by something very thought-provoking and Chris wrote about it. The way he captures it is far more compelling than anything I could have ever composed and I asked him if I could share his thoughts as today’s devotional.
A friend said something profound last night at our small group. A recent first time dad, his comment started with a familiar new parent musing about his daughter, but followed with a passing, haunting question.
I wonder what she’ll be like one day?
What will she look and act like?
Who will she associate with?
What will her interests, passions, personality and achievements be?
The mystery, wonder, excitement and possibility in a wealthy nation such as the one we live is staggering. Her tiny little life, with the right nurturing and opportunity, could literally do anything: teacher, entrepreneur, doctor, artist, singer, athlete, author, astronaut. Why not? It’s all possible.
The mystery and possibility is both amazing and simultaneously a heavy burden to a parent.
My mind drifted to my own little boys – 6 and 4 year old brothers – the best of friends, wrestling buddies and bursting with limitless potential. They truly believe they will be an NHL hockey player or Ironman when they grow up.
But the follow up comment from my friend is what really stuck.
“I wonder why we no longer look at ourselves in the mirror each day and think – ‘I wonder what I’ll be one day’?”
From dreaming of limitless potential and opportunity for my children to sudden self-reflection, the contrast was blinding. I was jerked from dreamland to my ‘real life’ of grocery bills, client projects and a mortgage.
In a moment, a flurry of emotions flooded through me: denial, excuses, apologies, responsibility, defeat, comparison and finally a bit of resent.
Boundless dreaming is nice in theory, but I’m a grown-up now. I have responsibility, and kids to provide for, and I don’t have the luxury of looking into a mirror filled with dreams, unbridled optimism and opportunity. Besides, I’ve been smacked in the face enough to know that the real world isn’t quite as utopian as the mind envisions.
But I realized this reaction is missing the point.
My child doesn’t wake up each day and purposely dream of unrealistic futures. He just has childlike faith: innocent, undisturbed optimism and hope.
Can we live a life simultaneously responsible, mature, wise and wildly hopeful?
I started wondering when I stopped asking what I’d be one day, and when I stopped believing it could be anything.
In our monoculture it’s so easy to settle into the road well travelled – the systems, routines and seasons of life pressed upon us by our family, our community and our subculture, whether we recognize it or not. The perceived conformist norm is the wide, well travelled road, that leads to a safe, comfortable future, but doesn’t care about what you or anyone else might look like one day. Turns out, many of us have traded childlike wonder for a way of life that has slowly consumed our daily look in the mirror and replaced it with the mundane.
I’m a father now.
I can’t dream of being Ironman.
That’s just silly!
Or is it?
Is it possible to get back your childlike faith – with a dash of naivety and wonder in boundless opportunity?
I’ve heard many people explain that parenthood involves shifting hopes onto the future of their children. While this is a noble, selfless idea, I have to ask myself…
Would my kids be better with a dad who showers them with opportunity and hope for their lives, or a father who shows them what that looks like in his own life?
Is it really selfish or irresponsible for me to spend part of today dreaming about what I’m going to become one day?
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” –Dr. Seuss