Living in the Place Between Dreams Come True & Dreams That Aren’t Yet

dreams come true & not yet

My fourteen-year-old daughter has an obsession with aging. She thinks this obsession is an actual disorder because she doesn’t know any of her peers who have the same fear of getting older. It’s not a vain sort of thing. Nothing to do with wrinkles or cellulite or graying hair. If you’re in a conversation with her for more than five minutes she will likely ask you these questions:

What was your favorite age?

Do you love your age right now?

Is this point in your life what you thought it would be? 

She’s a curious girl by nature. If you have been her teacher or pastor or youth leader, you know this already. She hopes to be a talk show host when she grows up so that she can ask questions for a living.

But fear is what’s really at the root of her aging angst.

Fear that the best has already passed her by. Fear because it’s all going by too fast.

She desperately misses the carefree days of childhood and I miss them for her. She hates feeling rushed and increasingly responsible for so many tasks. The pressure to perform well in everything — from school and sports to relationships and even in her spiritual life — it’s just too much for the wild and untamed spirit that masquerades as a young lady. Pressure doesn’t always have a shut-off valve. Not in today’s world.

She says she doesn’t want to have kids because moms are always stressed. And that she doesn’t want to be a grown-up because it doesn’t seem like anyone is actually living the life they dreamed of when they were young.

beach sz 500

Go ahead and imagine the guilt I feel for unknowingly communicating that motherhood is stress and misery. That the life she sees me living is not aspirational or inspirational. At least not from her vantage point. Cue the knife already.

Kids tell the truth and we should be grateful for that. Time has dimmed our grown-up vision but kids see life in a way that’s needfully {yet horrifyingly} honest.

During a recent conversation with her, I said that I actually have everything I ever dreamed of. The truth spilled out so naturally and honestly, it caught me by surprise. It was so good to hear those words come out of my own mouth.

The baggage of the past is an ever-present bully. Days tick by with their endless demands and mundane duties. Problems spring up like dandelions. The everyday is no fairy tale and don’t we know it?

Yet as I considered the life that younger Marian once dreamed of — a loving husband, beautiful children, a home of our own, fulfilling work, a community to put down roots — I realized that it’s all come true.

I needed to realize that’s it’s all come true.

Even as I type this, tears well up because gratitude overwhelms me. It’s all come true but that doesn’t mean the road has been paved with glitter.

Instead it’s been paved with redemption. It’s still being paved with redemption.

art and brick

Devastation and brokenness have been steady companions through many dark nights of the soul. Don’t confuse dreams-come-true with a storybook life. The life I have now is not the life I should have. We’ve beat the odds and we know. God’s goodness to me and to my family is beyond what I can tell you.

So why don’t I live that way? Why don’t I receive my own life with the thankfulness it deserves?

Why am I looking at your kids who don’t seem to struggle like mine do?

Why do I envy her full-time writing life while I’m juggling jobs and motherhood and teeny bits of writing in the margins of my beautiful but crowded life?

Why am I jealous of that mom’s easygoing personality?

How can I have everything I once dreamed, yet still feel that my life isn’t enough? Or that it’s too much? Depending on the day.

It would be easy to offer simple answers: envy, discontentment, selfishness, baggage, entitlement, pride, idealism.

Check, check, check, check, check, check and check. I know all of that already. If naming the problem completed the solution, we could all move on in peace and never complain again.

I can’t possibly answer these existential questions in a blog post. But in so many ways these are the truest tensions of my life. It’s the theme of nearly everything I write here. “Writing the real” is about making peace with the beautiful and crazy life I have — with its epic and everyday messes, its seen and unseen gifts. It’s about receiving the beauty and the brokenness. It’s about acceptance and celebration and gratitude right where I am.

There’s more to say but my word count is already too high.

In my next post I’ll write about some of the ways these tensions play out in my real life. I’ll also talk about the ways that peace, acceptance, hope, and surprise are showing up as faithful companions and kicking discontentment to the curb. It’s a timely topic as this unfolding season of transitions invites me to embrace the family, priorities, work, home, and people right in front of me, chaos and all.



P.S. I wrote most of this post a couple of weeks ago, back when I was silly enough to think I’d be able to keep writing semi-regularly through this season’s transitions of three kids in three schools, a lovely new job, and packing up our house for a move in just a few weeks. You guys, life is BANANAS right now. All day, every day, I’m obsessed with when I might be able to lie down or when it’s safe to take another hit of caffeine.

So when I say that I’m going to write another post that picks up where this one leaves off, I’m sincere but I’m also realistic. I don’t know when I’ll be back to write it. But telling you that is a way of inviting myself back to the writing desk, even if my posts are scrawled out in bits and pieces over weeks instead of hours.

Always, thanks for grace.


And thanks to those who entered the giveaway for a signed copy of Simply Tuesday! The winner is:

Anna Symonds

I sent you an email, Anna. Congratulations!

If you didn’t win, hop on over to amazon {or your favorite bookseller} and grab a copy of this wonderful book. It’s a dear companion these stressy days, reminding me that “the soul and the schedule don’t follow the same rules.”

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  1. says

    Oh, I just love this, Marian! We’ve been having this conversation in my house, too. One of my teen boys wants to play in the NBA, and it’s all we can do to keep throwing a reality check at him. It’s hard to know how to keep the dreams alive in my kids without giving them unrealistic ideals.

  2. Andrea Haebig says

    Thank you once again for your wise words. I cannot believe how often you express so beautifully what I am feeling.Your words give life to my inside thoughts. These lines in particular struck me…”So why don’t I live that way? Why don’t I receive my own life with the thankfulness it deserves?” Ugh…will this ever change? I have the life I dreamt of as little girl…although it certainly isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. I am much too restless and melancholy for that! Please continue to write. It is the closest thing to therapy for me.

  3. says

    Let’s dream of running away together. I need a break from life too. It feels overwhelming and hard and unmanageable and I want to be in Heaven with the Lover of my Soul!!!!! But I want everyone else to be there too.


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