When I was around 10 years old, I had a big time crush on this guy who hung out with my cousin and also attended the same school. It was senior year of junior high for him. Goodness. He was at least 4 whole years older than me and oh my, this crush was deep, hahaha! But I swooorrreee, I would give him a Valentine’s day card and he would swoon over me too. I won’t lie and tell you I expected a full on relationship because to be truthful I had no idea back then what a full on relationship would even entail. I think I just hoped and envisioned that he would receive my Ice cream cone shaped Valentine’s day card and be overjoyed that round, 4-eyed me was totally over the moon for him and he would just shower me with some attention. A smile. A wink. A quick hello as he passed the halls. Something!
So imagine me waiting, gasping as my cousin passed him my Valentine’s day card and he blushed!! He was smiling! He was flattered. I was elated! But then just as quickly as that elation came, some eighth-grade girl passed by, caught his attention and I am pretty sure my card was ended up on the floor for others to trample on – or – worst – read!
I was totally DEFLATED. I had all these hopes, dreams, expectations -hahahaha. The guy didn’t even say thank you. I crumbled, right there in the cafeteria. I went from being in a state of euphoria to the character “Sadness” from the movie Inside Out.
I chuckled remembering that moment from ions ago. But if I dissect it a bit, there are some dots I can connect to a habit that even 10 year old, 4-eyed me had!
First things first this whole thing of setting or having unrealistic expectations – ugh. But second and the driving force of this blog post – grieving something that didn’t exist, that’s a bit of a problem.
Have you grieved something that didn’t exist?
Just take a second and think about it. Let me ask it another way, did you ever cry about something to later realize there was more to it than just said offense?
Alright, alright, let’s take it a step further, what about a dream? Did you ever grieve over a dream not coming true?
Recently I found myself grieving over something that didn’t exist. I didn’t realize it at first. It wasn’t until I was in full wallowing mode (Sadness, totally deflated again), that I kind of felt a nudge. Said nudge said something like “hey, ummm this is pretty sad and all but what are you really grieving about? No, really?” I had to take a moment to dissect my thoughts. What was I really grieving? Because when I laid it all out, just like the 10 year old girl who swooned over the soon to be freshman … there was nothing really ever on the other side of that crush. It was all – just me swooning and handing out cute ice cream cone shaped Valentine’s Day cards. Haha.
Fast forward to present day – I was grieving, but I wasn’t grieving over what I had lost, because I didn’t lose anything. I was sad and grieved over losing what I had hoped for. Very different. When did things shift for me? When did I start making more of this – than it really was?
Legitimate questions I think we can all relate to. Especially if we’re talking about a dream, never mind my 10 year old crush. What happens when a dream becomes a reality but it isn’t quite realized? How do we cope with that? And how do our hearts know when they’ve created loyalty to a false idea?
I don’t have the answers. What I can and will share, gaining perspective was helpful. While asking myself what exactly was I grieving over felt silly, it gave me the opportunity to explore my sadness and disappointment further. It didn’t take away my need to grieve but it did help me understand more fully what I was experiencing.
A hope, I had, died. In this particular instance, this hope as it stood, could not and would not be resurrected. (And trust me, we totally tried to revive it.) But with the death of it went all of my “ideas and hopes for more”. I bought into the idea that if I gave it enough of a platform surely my loyalty in time would pay off; allowing it to dictate my choices, I expected loyalty in return. I had created this idea that didn’t exist, I had exchanged the truth for a lie.
Funny how our hearts can do this? (Jer. 17:9). If I go back and stroll through memory lane, I can see all the red flags, now. Any loyalty I received was fickle, temporary and time surely revealed this. So what then? Do I never hope, never dream again? Honestly, I know that can’t be true, God didn’t create me that way. But there are lessons I am still learning. Attaching expectations is just what I do, often, unknowingly, even at 10 years old. No blame, no guilt in that. But I can, and have deceived myself more times than I care to admit.
Heart checks, motive checks, these are important on any journey. It might be helpful to have a few of these along the way, nothing like a friend who can pop in and keep you accountable, right?
After all, I was created with the purpose of Worship. I was created to long for and be in communion with God. It actually seems pretty typical of my human nature to take something as innocent as a dream and turn it into something to worship. . . I need to be careful. Otherwise, I could find myself again, dedicating energy, time and sowing my life into something that doesn’t exist.
“Indeed, if left to themselves our hearts will tend to create a God that doesn’t exist.”