My freshman year of college, I visited a lot of churches in Houston.
I had barely gotten into the swing of things that first semester when my church shopping led me to a very large church with a very active college ministry. As it happens in these ministries at the beginning of the semester, there were a whole lot of new people, and we all spent the first ten minutes of class chatting and getting to meet as many people as possible.
I remember spending the majority of that time talking to just one girl.
Before I could even begin to ask her anything about herself, she began asking me all about my exciting life at Ye Olde Public University. I answered her questions and wondered at her sanity when she exclaimed, “OH! The DORM! You live in a DORM!” On and on she went about my classes, the friends I’d met, the campus ministry I was involved in, and my COLLEGE LIFE like I was living some posh dream.
“How about you?,” I asked, when she finally stopped to take a breath. “Are you at HBU? Rice?”
She sighed. “Oh, no,” she said. “I want to go to college one day, though.”
I figured this meant she was working and saving money, looking towards the day she could enroll at UH, so I asked what kind of job she had.
And with another sigh she said, “I’m a ballerina.”
Again, I wondered about her sanity.
She must have caught on to that because she clarified, “I’m a dancer with the Houston Ballet.”
No way. A real life ballerina?! Right there talking to me?!
Suddenly, I became the gushing one. What was it like to be a dancer? Wasn’t it thrilling to be onstage like that? Wasn’t it a thrill to get to wear those pretty outfits and prance around, the envy of little girls (and college freshman girls) everywhere?!
“It’s a lot of work,” she said, smiling. “I’d love to have enough time off from rehearsals to take just one college class. History, math, English… anything!”
It didn’t hit me until later, that we were envying one another to the exact same degree, that we imagined one another’s lives to be some sort of dream world, and that neither of us was being particularly thankful for what we were experiencing.
There are days when the Pop Tarts burn (I’m not sure how I manage this, y’all), when the girls can’t stop fighting (because pretend play breeds civil unrest), and when the dog hair is thick (for the love, can no one else in this family operate a vacuum cleaner?!). On days like this, I find myself asking, “Why am I worn out all the time?! Whose life am I living?!” It gets old real quick like some days, y’all. And I find myself envying anyone and everyone who isn’t me, looking over my pity fence and thinking, “That grass looks REALLY green over there! Likely because that woman doesn’t have to mow it, has no gripey children to stomp it down, and no oversized dog to poop all over it!”
Ungrateful. Unthankful. Human. Fallen. Messed up.
I think about that conversation all those years ago, back in that megachurch Sunday school class. And I remind myself that my life, made up of all the things that I find myself forgetting to be thankful for, is likely someone else’s dream. If I’m honest with myself, this life that I’m living right now was my dream once, too, before it was mine, before I became so accustomed to it that I took it for granted.
It’s a good reminder to me on the mundane “in the trenches” days like these to remember that I need to have a thankful heart, need to count my blessings (very literally), and see what God has done for His glory in my life.
Praying to always remember this…