Every little girl grows up dreaming about living in a castle. So as I flip through channels and find a home tour in a renovated castle I pause for a moment. It’s gorgeous–high walls, timeless floors, winding staircases. The hostess explains a local architect and his wife have brought new life to this old place. The wife nods and then replies, “Would you like to see a picture of it before we began?”
What she shows the camera next almost jolts me out of my seat. It’s nothing but ruins. No roof. No windows. Just jagged pieces of wall stretching into the sky.
I shake my head in wonder. How did they even have a vision for what that place could be?
Just seconds ago I thought, “It would be really cool to live in a place like that someday.” Now I take it all back. No way would I be willing to do that much work. I landed on the “happily after” part of that castle’s story and completely missed how arduous the process had been to get there.
I thought about how I often do the same in other ways. I look at an area of another woman’s life that I admire–maybe a talent, skill, strength or dream that has come true–and I think, “It would be really cool to live in a place like that someday.”
But I don’t see the whole picture. I don’t know how much renovation happened in her life to get her there. I don’t have the back story that shows God gets all the glory. I haven’t counted the tears or uncovered the cost along the way.
Jon Acuff shared, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
I’d take it one step beyond that and say, “Never compare your middle to someone else’s happy ending.”
And know that if we’re longing for someone else’s “castle” we’re also asking for all the effort, energy and emotion it took for that to be built in their lives. Do we really know what we’re asking for?
Writer Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters before a publisher accepted The Help, which became a runaway best-seller and popular movie.
Olympic athletes train in obscurity and make significant sacrifices just for one shot at seeing their dream come true.
The Apostle Paul experienced being beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned and more in order to fulfill his calling.
By the time the television segment on that renovated castle finished I felt ready to kiss my carpet.
I had a new appreciation for my realities.
So next time we see a “castle” in someone else’s life that’s complete let’s close our eyes for a moment and try to imagine not just what could be but what may have already been. And then take a moment to thank God for being wise enough not to give us everything we think we want–and all that comes with it.