One of my favorite movies is the 1998 classic “Stepmom” starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. I love the complex family dynamics the movie portrays, particularly of a broken family. In one touching scene, Jackie, a middle-aged woman dying of cancer, is having one of her final conversations with her young son, Ben.
He says, “Can I talk to you? When you’re there?”
“Always. Always,” she replies. “And you won’t hear a voice. But … you’ll know what I’m saying.”
The boy looks perplexed and then declares, “It’s not good enough.”
His mother nods. “No, it isn’t. Because it isn’t everything. And we want everything, don’t we?”
We Want Everything
I think this scene is a pretty accurate depiction of life on this planet. We want everything, whether that be the perfect spouse, the house with the white picket fence, the great career, the good health, the financial security, the world travels or the picture-perfect relationships. But few of us (if any) have everything.
And sometimes, as the scene from “Stepmom” depicts, we lose something that leaves a hole. Something irreplaceable. That means we will never have everything on this earth again. And, much like that 5-year-old, we declare: “It’s not good enough!”
In this week’s feature article, Chris Crane talks about being disappointed by life, and ultimately by God. When we realize that this life isn’t everything we hoped it would be, we can become angry with God for allowing our particular circumstances. After Crane’s girlfriend ended a relationship he thought was headed toward marriage, he felt betrayed by God. He writes:
I had all these plans of having a wonderful wife and family, of going to church together, and doing all the fun things families do. But now at 29, I was still single. I thought life would look one way, but it didn’t. I realized it was OK for me to grieve that. If I wanted to address the deeper problem, I had to allow myself to be able to articulate I was disappointed with God and had no clue what He was doing. Simply wanting to be content didn’t keep the hurt away.
It isn’t everything. And we want everything, don’t we?
Not What I Expected
If you have these feelings, you are not alone. The other day I was thinking about my 6-year-old. He’s had a lot of challenges since he was a baby and has several special needs. This year, with therapy and kindergarten, he has been doing great. In fact, he’s pretty much a rock star.
But as I thought about his success and the milestones he’s reaching several years behind his peers, the thought occurred to me: It isn’t everything. And deep sadness washed over me. When I have so many things to be thankful for in life, I sometimes forget that I’m grieving, too. I even feel guilty for having anything to “complain about.” But the fact is, I’m mourning the loss of dreams I had for my son and adjusting to the fact that his life won’t look exactly how I anticipated.
I think the Apostle Paul had a finger on the pulse of these sinking feelings we all experience. This is the guy who wrote that the “whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth.” He gets it. Parts of this journey called life are far from pleasant. That’s just reality. But listen to what he says in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
It isn’t everything. This life. My pain. The disappointments. Now, I know in part; then I will know fully. When it feels like my present circumstances are “not good enough,” I can find comfort in the truth that they were never meant to be. In fact, apart from God’s eternal presence, they never can be. Speaking to the Jews following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Peter said: “Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21, NIV).
The time of everything is coming, friends. As much as we may long for that sense of completeness right now, we will never possess it in this life. And that’s OK. It’s natural, even. Let the “sinking feelings” of loss, grief and sadness push you closer to the One who will restore all things. For truly He created us to want everything, because one day He fully intends to give it to us.