I’ve been thinking about the phrase “happily ever after” lately. It’s a good phrase to put into perspective every once in a while.
Because Happily Ever After doesn’t look very much like I thought it would when I was eight.
No, Happily Ever After is Michael and I reading “Guess How Much I Love You?” to our 18-month-old before bedtime, and little Gabriel falling asleep all sweaty and happy (and in mismatched pajamas) on Michael’s chest.
It’s watching “my boys” wrestle in the living room after dinner (and drag in dirt from the garden onto the carpet I just vacuumed).
It’s snuggling with Michael on the couch in front of a movie on a quiet weeknight (Hurray for Netflix!)
And feeling the rolls, kicks and hiccups of the precious baby girl inside of me.
It’s changing my toddler’s increasingly yucky “man poop” diapers.
And getting to know the plumber and air conditioner repair man.
It’s creating a brand-new dinner concoction with whatever I find in the back corners of the pantry and freezer so we won’t go over our monthly grocery budget.
And having tough talks with Michael about that monthly budget.
It’s making plans and dreams for the future while we wade through the joys and challenges of the present.
It’s being faithful to praying daily both personally and together for God to guide us toward the next steps in the never-boring, always-surprising, wonderful plan He’s got for our lives.
Marriage and motherhood have been a major blessing and challenge in my life, but my Happily Ever After didn’t start once I finally got to wear that lovely white dress and walk down the aisle to meet Prince Charming. Too many young women, especially, have that mindset. I know I did for a long time.
I’ve realized that Happily Ever After, for me, started in college, when I finally began letting God lead my life. To the best of my understanding and abilities, I started making choices and living out my relationships wholeheartedly “God’s way.”
I wasn’t perfect, and still am not. But I put my heart into seeking God’s will for me. And still do.
That’s when Happily Ever After began, when I first remember feeling the incredible peace that comes with letting God into your life completely. I think that peace is a part of everyone’s personal Happily Ever After, whether they’ve ever thought about it like that or not.
Once you start letting God into your life like that, you notice how much “all things work for the good of those who love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). It’s amazing how, when you’re looking for it, you can see God’s fingerprints all over so much of your life.
For example: My sophomore year in college, I discerned that I was supposed to change my major to elementary education. So for one spring semester, I took some classes I needed to catch up with before starting the main education curriculum. One of those classes was Anthropology 101, where I befriended a young guy I knew from the Catholic Student Center. One day, he casually mentioned he would be working that summer at a family-owned Christian boys’ and girls’ camp in North Carolina, Camps Kahdalea/Chosatonga. When I mentioned that I had an extensive background in horseback riding, he offhandedly said he thought they still needed riding counselors. Because I needed a job, I looked into the camps, applied, was hired, arrived at the end of May for training, and promptly met my future husband the first day I was there. (We were married just over two years later.)
The best part is that after that spring semester, I figured out that an education major wasn’t actually where God wanted me, and I ended up changing my major to journalism and public relations, which has been a blessing to my life in many blog posts-worth of ways!
As at any point in our lives—and certainly in mine right now–there is usually a break from peace in some relationship or situation. Overall though, I can write with confidence and conviction that I am held firm by an inner peace that comes from my faith. Living in perspective, abandoning myself to God with every challenge, and praying unceasingly in both thanks and petition—those are my daily mindset.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh honey, just wait until you deal with something that’s actually hard and then write your nice post on peace and the Happily-Ever-Afters!”
But if and when those Bigger Storms in my life do arrive one day, I will face them with God beside me and before me. And, God-willing, with my wonderful husband beside me in prayer as well.
I think that accepting God wholeheartedly is an Ever After kind of thing. Perhaps not always Happily Ever After, or even Peacefully Ever After, but certainly mostly Happily and Peacefully Ever After.
And after all, in a world full of therapists, self-help books and New Age find-your-own-happiness gurus—a world that doesn’t usually give God much of a chance–I’ll takemostly happy and peaceful over the status quo.
Copyright 2011 Erin Franco