My idea of paradise has changed just about as much as I have over the years. As a little girl it was ponytails and the Barbie Dream house. When I began to study the 50 states, I fell in love with the idea of palm trees and sand between my toes. As I grew into adolescence, I soon began to crush on boys. Paradise became about being with my crush and the emotional rush I would receive when he would one day place his Letterman’s jacket around my shoulders and tell me for the first time that he loved me. Dreaming of a fulfilling career, being with a tender husband, and a house filled with a loving family have all made my paradise list in the past.
But dreams gave way to heartache. Heartache gave way to discontentment. Slowly, over the years, I have grown hardened and jaded by the many pains I have endured. With disillusionment has come a loss of vision, a loss of my ability to believe in my own paradise. Lately, I have been so afraid to dream. So afraid of opening my heart up to more hurt and failure. Life has been so “heavy”, the “wheel has broken” this “butterfly’s back” (reference to Coldplay’s Paradise).
Though I have relinquished the innocence with which I once dreamt, in return I have gained perspective, experience, and a deepening of my soul through so many heart wrenching years. I have loved and lost. I have been broken. At times, I have laid in the streets, wounded and bleeding…for years, sometimes. But nonetheless, deep within, I have found the strength to hold on to my dreams and pursue my own vision of paradise for my life. I have found it in my faith and in the love I share with my dear husband. Paradise. I have learned that the “sun must set to rise”** “…and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:4).”
A promise…at the end of the day, should I find the God-given courage within myself to endure, I will be refined and lack NOTHING of which my Lord desires for me.
Thus, paradise doesn’t equate to perfection but rather is a place where contentment and dreams unite, forming a rare bond this side of heaven.
There will be many more fallen dreams and broken wings, but always, at the end of the day, I will rise and find the strength to keep the vision of my own paradise alive.
** – reference to Coldplay’s song Paradise