For the past couple of weeks, Jill and I have been reading Nicholas Sparks books. Some I've liked better than others, I'll admit, but I've enjoyed the escape. I'd love to be able to conceive a story, put the dialogue into the mouths of fictional characters, and then sell about a gazillion books while calmly negotiating the film rights. Oh well...I can dream.
Sparks' books remind me of a hidden expectation that I suppose many of us tucked away when we were little girls...and I totally blame Disney for it. We were introduced to the concept of princes and fairy godmothers and happy endings and then we calmly waited for our turn to shine. Most of us have been a witness to a proposal or have asked the newly engaged for details of how the question was asked. We smile and applaud and are happy to acknowledge that two people have made a choice to become one.
And as we grew up and realized that we had to be content with Prince (or the artist formerly known as Prince...whatever) instead of a real one...and that fairy godmothers were definitely in short supply. So, we began to put all of our stock in the hope of the happy ending. Perhaps too much so.
In most women is the desire to be chosen, pursued and admired. It never really leaves us...although many husbands seem to stop this somewhere along the way. I suppose it goes both ways, if you really think about it. We want a lifetime love and a sweet story of our courtship to tell our grandchildren. We expect our lives to be charmed, our spouses to be perfect and our children to be even more so. We tend to not be big fans of realism, either. We don't like realizing that we chose incorrectly after years of hanging on, that our children are bound to make decisions that we do not particularly agree with, or we chose a career that has become something foreign and burdensome to us as time has passed. And for those of you who are wondering...I am not necessarily speaking of my own experience.
But Sparks' books put us directly into the lives of people trying to live the dream. The stories may not end right or end well...but living the story is worth the risk. As Garth Brooks put it...you can miss the pain...but then you'll have to miss the dance. We'd rather dance and be awkward and foolish...than to sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. We prefer to believe that life will work out well even though we know that there are realities such as divorce, terminal illness, and tragedies in this life.
I'm looking at sweet stories from a totally different perspective now. My life has been good by most standards...and great by even others. It isn't perfect, but I've lived most of the dreams I originally had for myself, and I've been blessed beyond my expectations...or even what I deserve. I might change a few things...like my metabolism, my bank account balance, and some of the boneheaded decisions I've made...but I've been very lucky to have had it work out as well as it has. I suppose that it was helpful that I gave up on Disney a long time ago...well, for myself, that is.
But alas, yes, I am the mother of a beautiful daughter. And I want that perfect sweet story for her. Is this wrong? I know that we are very early in this game, but the reality is...any young man that she meets from here on out could be her Mr. Wonderful. When I read in the newspaper that the Texas quarterback proposed to his girlfriend this week (Colt McCoy) at the stadium by popping the question on the Jumbotron...I can't help but be envious. I can't help but wanting something similar for her from the right young man one day. There's a part of me that wants desperately to encourage her not to settle, and another part of me that realizes that this is not my choice to make. I'd really love some assurance that everything will turn out well. Wouldn't it be great to turn to page 143 and find that she ends up with the right one?
I know that there are no real princes or fairy godmothers or perfect endings in Nicholas Sparks books. I mean...every once in awhile he throws us a bone...but he's just as likely to let someone have Alzheimers, die in childbirth, or something similarly sad. What he writes is about our worst fears...intermingled with our best hopes. Which is strangely a lot like real life.
I'm hopefully writing lines somewhere in the middle of my book of life...and I'm watching my sweet girl in her early chapters. She's already encountered an unkind mother and less than stellar suitors in some regards...but she always keeps hoping for the best. I hope that her faith will be rewarded in God's time with a wonderful husband. It is my hope that her sweet story would make Nicholas Sparks green with envy.
Sweet stories...we all have them...in some form or fashion. We just need to remember to trust that God will weave the various threads of love, honor, purity, hope, pain, and endurance into a wonderful tapestry that testifies to a life well lived. We may have one of those blockbuster romances that inspires, or one of those quiet ones that is the cornerstone of a foundation for generations of love. Whatever your story is...I hope that you'll be grateful for it. I know I am...