I'm going to confess (in short form) something that has been troubling me. I know at face value it sounds silly and perhaps shallow but it troubles me deeply. In simple terms it is this:
This is not the life I thought I was going to live.
Don't get me wrong. In some ways this is a much better life than I could have imagined. The imagination of an 18 year old or 22 year old really isn't up to the task of understanding what life at 30 or 40 or 50 is like. Since I'm surprised at what 50 has turned out to be I'll admit that I probably don't have the imagination to forecast what 60, 70 or 80 may be like.
The problem is that in some ways this life has been very much less than I had dreamed. My lady wife's illnesses has had a serious negative effect on the shape of our married life. It's affected career choices even though without it I probably never would have taken on my current job as a youth minister. So there is both good and bad.
But I had a vision. A vision of who I would be and what my condition in life would be by the time I turned 50. The opportunities I'd be able to give to my wife and child. And yes the things too. Don't read me that sermon, I know the words. In the end this is what I face:
I'm never going to own a house.
I'm never going to be able to treat my wife to the things I dreamed of.
I will not do better than my parents.
I'll be damn lucky to do as well.
It's quite possible that I will never be able to retire and enjoy the things my parents did.
If I'm lucky I won't leave my daughter any debts. The chances that I'll be able to leave her any kind of inheritance rapidly approaches zero.
Let me be honest. While my life falls well short of failure it strikes me as being resoundingly like mediocrity. And in my heart mediocrity IS failure.
I know my wife disagrees. She's told me so.
I know my daughter disagrees. She's told me so.
I'm sure folks who know me will tell me I'm being stupid or silly (again).
And I'm sure you're all right.
And I still feel like I've let my gifts down. I've let my family down. I've let myself down.
And I don't know what to do with this feeling. I've talked with my wife about it. I knew she would be hurt by some of it (and she was. And she's forgiven me already because she's entirely too good for the likes of me).
This isn't the life I thought I was going to live. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be at this point in my life. It has been noted before that I tend to expect a lot (some have even said too much) of myself. But I've been given several large gifts (I don't think that's my ego talking. I base that on what I've been able to do) that I don't think I've fully used.
I don't know. The longer I type the stupider I sound even to myself. Maybe what I see as mediocre is just normal. And maybe I'm just normal.
But that's not what I expected.