Matt and I were driving the other day and we stumbled on a For Sale sign to some of the most gorgeous property we’ve seen in a while. It was close to town but bordered by National Forest, had a lodge overlooking rolling hills, a pond, and the top of Pikes Peak. It even had a horse barn, for heaven’s sake. It was gorgeous.
And as we drove down the dirt road, my mind started spinning with possibilities.
Kelty could actually have horses in a place like this, just like she’s always dreamed. We could get a four-wheeler for Cade, and the kids could grow up working outside and playing in the woods. And we could get a dog that wouldn’t bother the neighbors and would have plenty of room to run. Our parents and friends could stay in one of the three guest cabins on the property.
And Matt and I could grow old in that house, on that land, drinking coffee from that front porch.
So, like any dreamer born with (or plagued with?) optimism, we called the number on the sign as we pulled out. We weren’t sure how much property was included, and maybe the inside of the house was a fixer-upper, rendering the price not galaxies out of our league financially, only universes. One can dream, and God can move universes, after all.
“Uh, huh. Oh.Well, thanks so much, we’ll call you back if we’re interested.” I listened, waiting for the verdict.
“Guess,” he asked me.
“Just tell me already,” I said.
“Well, the good news is that is was dropped from 2.3 million (the silver lining). Bad news is its still 1.8. Comes with 90 acres.”
And despite the fact that the bank wouldn’t qualify us to live in the horse barn of that property, our wheels still were spinning (like I said, optimism can be a plague). Maybe we could rent the cabins for income. Maybe we could work a deal. Maybe we could sell a kidney . . . or two.
And then we come back to our one level 1600 square foot house, with it’s small backyard and three skinny trees, overlooking the apartments next door. I walk through the worn carpet that someone thought was a good idea to put in the bathrooms and under the kitchen table where children eat. I cram the girls clothes into their one dresser in their shared room which provides them with about four feet of total free floor space, and I become . . .
If only we had that house with the 90 acres, the kids wouldn’t complain of being bored. That land would give them happy memories and knit our family strong. Horses and dogs and forests, this is what we want for their childhood. If only we had an extra place for guests, we could provide a restful place in Colorado for people that need a break, for our parents and siblings. If only we had that property, then we’d really be happy.
And the thing I’m learning about dreams is that oftentimes they can be a dangerous breeding ground for lies.
Because an acre or two of land (or 90 of them, even), the possession of this is no guarantee of “arriving,” of joy. If it takes a 1.8 million dollar property to make our hearts content, there’s a much bigger problem here than the fact that the bank would have a good laugh at the mortgage application. If my kids have to have horses and four-wheelers and a pond to not be bored, there’s a much larger issue at stake than the trouble we’d have acquiring (or maintaining) those things.
If I have to have more, or different, to be happy, then the fixation of a dream for that can sometimes fuel misery and, well, a terrible attitude.
And while I know that dreams can be a deeply good thing– things that drive us to believe big and pursue wild adventures and even taste God in new ways– they can also become a major stumbling block in our own daily joy.
We had eight little kids over last night. It was a “just because” party for our son, who hasn’t had a friend-party in three years, and goodlord needed one for his heart. And yes, there was pizza spilled on the carpet under the table. And, yes, six girls playing in my daughters’ room is even more crammed than two. And, yes, people had to take turns for the bathroom.
It was a special night for us, for him–a deeply good few hours on many levels. We carried eggs in spoons, kicked soccer balls, and literally toasted to friendship with the classic cheap-kid dessert–pudding and gummy worms, a.k.a. “dirt in a cup.” He went to bed that night saying, “Mom, I’m really happy.” And all that goodness?
It happened in this house. In this yard. In the present.
Apparently, Capture the Flag can be fairly epic on a fourth of an acre, too.
Thoughts on dreams? Have they meant more good or more bad in your life? What are you dreaming of lately?
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