When I was a girl, I was not allowed to have Barbie dolls. My parents didn’t want to encourage me to live in a “Barbie dreamland.”
Even though this decision made me feel left out from time to time, I understand that they wanted to protect how I learned about self-image. Let’s be honest: Barbie is not the most substantial heroine.
In an impressive feat of parental inconsistency, I was instead allowed to play with troll dolls. Apparently, these bridge-dwelling, spell-casting, neon-haired, always-nudes were better role models during my impressionable girlhood. (My parents and I laugh about this now.)
These troll dolls were the characters in the make-believe stories of my after school playtime. I would dream up adventures for my family of trolls, make clothes for them, and mourn each one that was chewed up by the dog.
As I grew up (and as more of my troll dolls were eaten by my dog), they lost their title as MVPs of Make-Believe. I was introduced to many other characters and stories through television, pop music, and things I learned in school. My imagination began to write more complex storylines, usually when I was bored in my high school classes.
I’m still a daydreamer, imagining the possibilities in every area of my life. But to my disappointment, I can’t always decide how the storylines of my life will unfold, the way I once could as a girl playing make-believe. Whether you are a daydreamer or not, you understand how disappointing it is not to be able to write the chapters of life as you wish.
The reality of not being in control hits hardest in times of great loss. The disappointment of losing a job, a friendship, a dream, a spouse, or health are painful examples of how much control we lack in the telling of our life story.
This is not to say that we are powerless.
Even though I can’t force other people to play along with my ideas, wishes, and dreams, I can decide how I will respond to life. This takes conviction about and acceptance of what I am responsible for (hint: myself), and whom I am responsible to (hint: God).
After a recent disappointment, I have found it challenging to grieve appropriately. I’m tempted to grieve that I couldn’t give this story the ending that I wanted, as though I would have avoided this loss if I hadn’t made silly mistakes, or had more foresight, or acted more [fill-in-the-blank.] It has been a challenge to accept that there were multiple reasons why this storyline took a turn I didn’t want. The majority of these reasons were out of my hands.
Grieving appropriately simply means letting myself be sad about what has happened, not blaming myself or anyone else, and it is accompanied by the invitation to trust God more deeply.
Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Pouring out my heart invites me to tell God my storylines, and all the reasons why I want to tell my stories a certain way. Trusting means that in the pouring out of my dreams and wants, God will take care of my heart’s desires in His own good ways.
If you feel disappointed right now, know that your emotions are safe with God, who is a refuge. In His deep love for you, He invites you to pour out your heart to Him. Will you trust Him with your life stories today?
Flickr photo (cc) by puuikibeach