The sermon on Sunday was (partly) about what we dream, wish and hope for ourselves. (I only ever know partly what a sermon is about because ADD is a real thing.) It made me reflect on what my dreams are, which led to the realization that I’m an awful dreamer. I think I’ve always had a vague conception that I wanted to marry a great guy, pop out some great kids, live comfortably, and maybe get a few degrees or have a job for the heck of it. My desires seem very fuzzy and weighed down by practicality. In contrast, B wants to change the world, and he believes he can do it. He can dream in specifics. He can dream things unrelated to his progeny, things that have nothing to do with me as his wife. He loves Juliet and me, and we are important to him, but we are not his end goal. When it comes down to it, B is not primarily a husband or a father; B is the cheese. He stands alone.
As a woman, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that kind of thinking. Like with fairy tales, what I wanted for myself seemed to end with the happily ever after. I never gave much thought to what would occur after we rode off into the sunset. I don’t know if this is particular to church women, since that’s how I was raised, and it’s all I know, really, but I think this is true for a lot of the women I’ve spoken to. Marriage and children are the prize, and once they are achieved we kind of pull a disappearing act. It’s as though our lives as individuals end that we might better serve our families. Even with these thoughts in the forefront of my mind, after the sermon when B asked me what I dream for my life, most of my answers revolved around what I want for Juju–what I want her to learn, how I would give her a good start in life. I’m not even thirty yet, and already I feel like I’m passing the baton.
Why don’t I, why don’t most of the women I know, know how to dream? Is it biological? Did we not have good role models? Is it institutionalized oppression? In church, men’s retreats constantly have themes like, “Live the Adventure,” while women’s retreats are entitled “Bloom Where You’re Planted” (I’m not making that up). Is that descriptive or prescriptive? Do women aim to be passive helpers–bit players in someone else’s grand story–because that’s who we are or because that’s what we’re taught to be?
On Sunday the pastor talked about how to differentiate good dreams from false ones by asking, “Where is God in that dream?” Granted he was talking about dreams people have of smoking lots of weed or committing adultery, but I think it’s a good question for less strange and ugly desires as well. So you want to get married and raise a passel of kids. Where’s God in that? If our overarching goal as Christians is to live out God’s kingdom here on earth, how do your dreams fit into that design?
That’s a question I’ve never thought to ask myself. It’s a question I think a lot of Christians–women and men–never ask. And we need to. My uterus should not be the most valuable thing about me. I want to be a good mom to Juliet and a good wife to B, and that’s fine. But somehow, some way, I want to find a path to being a good me as well. I have to rid myself of the idea that God is fastforwarding through the rest of my life to get to Juliet’s. If God has dreams for me, I need to learn to have them for myself. What is my adventure, and how do I live it? is not only a male question. It’s mine as well. May this be the year I learn to ask it.