By Ruth Meyer
And they lived happily ever after. The End.
We sigh with contentment as yet another book or movie comes to its happy conclusion. Let's be honest, don't we all love happy endings? And really, many girls have read or watched so many fairy tales growing up that we've more or less come to expect a "happily ever after" of our own. Soon we will be entering the season for graduations and weddings, both of which are, understandably, high points in a person's life. Commencement speeches are usually filled with encouraging pep talks about going out there to change the world. At weddings, the bride and groom gaze lovingly at each other while the bridesmaids swoon in ecstasy as everyone dreams of "happily ever after." But the brutal truth is that very few graduates will, in fact, change the world, and very few couples will have a "happily ever after," at least not without a whole lot of work. Eventually reality sets in and we realize we aren't going to have a picture perfect life. In fact, we realize instead that our life is actually quite, well . . . average.
Few people aspire to be average. Kids dream of being rich and famous, perhaps as a movie star, the President, or a Major League Baseball player. Not too many middle-school students look into their futures and dream of working at, say, the local hardware store. But the fact is that someone has to grow up and work at the hardware store. Someone has to clean toilets at the office complex. Someone has to drive a garbage truck. Someone has to be the average Joe or Jane. And it's not just one's career. There will always be someone who has a bigger house, a more manicured lawn, a happier marriage, better behaved children, a more popular blog, prettier clothes, or a better figure than you.
Most of us can probably identify those "more fortunate" people pretty easily. But the thing about being average is that just as there are those "better off" than you, so there are those who are worse off. There will also be someone with a smaller house, a less manicured lawn, a harder marriage, less well-behaved children, a less-popular blog, shabbier clothes, or a worse figure than you. We tend to forget that. Being average means that yeah, some have it better than I do, but there are also a lot of people who are worse off than I am. As Jo Dee Messina sings in her song "I'm Alright": "I'm above the below and below the upper. I'm stuck in the middle where money gets tight but I guess I'm doing all right." But is being average really "all right" to most of us?
I wish I had learned this lesson earlier in my own life. When I got married I wanted to be the perfect wife. I wanted to keep a spotless house (or apartment for the first few years), cook amazing meals, keep in shape, and generally do everything the "perfect" wife should do. Then when our first child was born, I still wanted to do all those things along with becoming the best mom.
As my firstborn grew and more children were added, that became harder and harder. My house was far from spotless, I found myself throwing together Hamburger Helper, and I counted climbing stairs to the bedrooms as my exercise. Contrary to what I envisioned, I didn't read half an hour to my children every night. I didn't teach them baby sign language or enroll them in swimming lessons for toddlers. I lost my temper and yelled when I shouldn't have. In short, I found I was, well, just your average wife and mother. There was nothing at all special about me, nothing that set me apart from everyone else. Nothing, that is, except my relationship to my family. To the rest of the world I may have been just another mom, but to my own kids I was their mom, the one who kissed their boo-boos and dried their tears, who cooked them food (even if it was Hamburger Helper) and made special cakes for their birthdays, who read them bedtime stories (sometimes) and loved them. Honestly, to my family it didn't matter how clean the house was or what kind of clothes I wore or whether I lost all my pregnancy weight. I loved them, and that's what counted.
Dear sisters, maybe you don’t serve all organic food like the soccer mom you know. Maybe you aren’t like that crafty mom who sews adorable dresses for her girls or amazing Halloween costumes for her boys. Yet you're the best mom in the world for your own children (because you’re the one God gave them), and of all the women out there, your husband fell in love with you.
Far more important, you were chosen by your Heavenly Father to be part of His family. "[H]e chose us in him before the foundation of the world," Ephesians 1:4a tells us. Think of that! You, dear sister, you were chosen by the Creator of this universe to be His special redeemed child even before He made the world! That's how special you are. There is no such thing as "happily ever after" on this earth. There isn't supposed to be, because the world cannot satisfy our soul's deepest longing. But don't despair--there's more to reality than just this world. Thanks to our Lord’s sacrifice for us, Heaven awaits, and one day you will live there, happily ever after.
Ruth Meyer is living out her vocation as a Lutheran woman in the roles of sister, daughter, mother, and wife. Her greatest joy in life is living as a redeemed child of God, who has blessed her in her many vocations. Besides her human relationships, Ruth's other interests include music and writing. She is a church musician and has a special love for Lutheran hymnody. She also loves to write, and and her children's book, Our Faith from A to Z ,was recently published through CPH. Ruth keeps her own blog attruthnotes.net. Her hope is that through her writing you are encouraged and perhaps even challenged in your God-given vocations.