Liam and I recently worked on a craft project. My sister had given me two wooden blocks a long time ago, so I pulled them out and plopped Liam up at the table with some non-toxic, green and red paint so that we could make some Christmas signs.
While Liam happily painted everything in sight (including his face), I was completely caught up in my own project, oblivious to the mess happening just to the side of me.
I started by painting my block green and had planned to paint “Merry Christmas” in red. Instead, I found myself using more of the green to make Christmas trees.
It didn’t take long to finish the project, and as I stared down at the three trees on my wood block, I couldn’t help but think of a children’s story I had read years earlier about three trees.
The full story is worth the read (and you can find it here: https://bible.org/illustration/story-three-trees), but here’s a summary as well:
There were three young trees that had big dreams for when they grew up. One wanted to be made into a treasure chest to hold great treasure. Another wanted to be a big and powerful boat to take great kings across the sea. And the third simply wanted to stay put and grow tall, pointing up to heaven and reminding people of God.
The trees grew up and the first tree was chopped down and taken to a carpenter. But instead of becoming a treasure chest, she was transformed into a feeding box for animals, covered in dust and full of hay. But one day a couple came and laid their baby in this manger, and the tree knew in that moment that she was holding the greatest treasure of all.
The second tree got excited when he was taken to a shipyard. But instead of being made into a strong ship, he was converted into a small sailing boat. But one day, when the boat was caught in a bad storm, one of the weary travelers in the boat caused the storm to cease, and the boat then knew that he was carrying the King of kings.
The third tree felt confused when she was made into wooden beams and left in a lumberyard. After much time had passed, she was yanked out of the lumberyard and marched in front of a jeering crowd. A man was then nailed to her, and she felt even uglier and colder than before. But on the third day, the earth rejoiced, and she somehow knew that that man had changed everything and that ultimately people would think of God when they thought of her, which was better than any other dream.
Thinking about this story that day made me think about how much I could relate to the trees. Ever since I was a little girl, I had dreamed about becoming a wife and mother and how great it would be. But just as the second tree did not become the boat he thought he would be, I am not the mom (or wife) I thought I’d be. I have been the small sailboat who isn’t so sure she can handle the big storms of life.
In all honesty, I have faced disappointment in this role just like each tree did in theirs. I feel disappointed with myself in so many ways. I feel it when I think of how little time I’ve spent planning Liam’s meals for the day or when I let him watch another T.V. show because he’s whining and I’m busy getting lunch ready. I also feel disappointed by how messy the house generally is and how hard it is for me to keep up with chores. I feel disappointed by how unproductive I am as well when it seems like staying home should allow me to be all the more productive.
Not only am I disappointed by my own faults but also by my circumstances at times. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom to Liam and enjoy so many moments with him throughout the day (I can almost hear him giggling right now as I write this and think of all our tickle wars). Nonetheless, it’s hard to accept how monotonous and mundane life is right now, and how meaningless it feels.
But I know I don’t have to live in that disappointment. I know I can live my life in a meaningful way. The beauty of the story of the three trees is that, although they didn’t become what they had wanted to, their dreams were nonetheless fulfilled in different ways, and their lives had become meaningful because Jesus had been a part of them.
Although motherhood is proving to be a very different journey than what I had anticipated, I recognize today that something greater than my dreams is fulfilled in it and it is more meaningful than what I could have ever imagined it to be when I allow Jesus to be a part of it. And that, my friend, is better than any other dream.