A friend once told me over a cup of coffee, “There’s a worm in everything.” I’ve found that to be true. No matter what the wonderful thing you’re looking forward to is, you can count on there being worms in it once that wonderful thing is at your door. You build something up in your mind with great expectations and it becomes this thing to look forward to with no down sides at all. But then the day finally comes and things happen that seem to cause it to fall short of your expectations. And the bigger your expectations the bigger even the small problems feel. Those problems and other unexpected difficulties are the worms, and you need to know that those worms are going to find their way into everything. That’s just life.
When we are young our expectations tend to be in smaller events, like camping trips, or special occasions we’ve arranged. But when we’re older we can put our expectations into life-long things, like careers and marriage. And not having reasonable expectations, or, refusing to consider the downsides in your more life-encompassing endeavors can lead you into a disposition of disappointment needlessly. No matter how wonderful you think something is going to be now, it will not be perfect then, so you would be wise to prepare yourself ahead of time by expecting the worms along with the good.
It is my desire for you to learn these things, and to think this way about the things that you look forward to, big or small. It will not only help you to overcome disappointments that are coming, and so therefore be a happier person, it will also help you to learn while you are young to approach all of life with this same mindset.
When marriage does come for you, it will probably be the most expectation filled endeavor that you will ever have, and likewise, it will also be the one place that worms can do the most damage. God made us to feel a powerful feeling when we find ourselves attracted to someone who is attracted to us. There’s nothing like it. It’s like a drug. And as drugs go, they wear off, and then you realize that you’ve been blinded for a time and there are some worms that you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. And to be sure, it’s not like the worms might be there, I’m promising you that they most definitely will. But don’t feel bad. Your spouse will be dealing with their fair share of worms too. Such things are a given. It doesn’t mean you ought to abandon your new family and go off chasing that high again. It means that it’s time to begin the work of loving and sacrificing for someone else, in the true sense of those words. And whatever you do don’t forget, those who trade in their old worms only trade them in for new ones. Better to let the familiar worms perform the work of turning you into a good, decent and faithful human being who knows how to love someone even when you don’t feel like it.
That all said, I feel it necessary to talk a bit about my marriage to your mom. It might be misunderstood that I am insinuating that I’m not happily married. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real truth is that, because I never expected perfection, or marital bliss, I’ve not been in any way disappointed in our marriage. I married a fellow sinner which means that I married all the little things that make her a sinner. And she married someone much worse, as I’m sure you both can attest. And we have managed to love each other through the years, and in fact, we have become pretty adept at slaying and managing worms, and are looking forward to a long life together with godly anticipation, should God so grant us that privilege. But we both had to slay and quarantine some worms to get where we are now, and that doesn’t happen by running from one can of worms to the next, ever searching for that empty can. I promise you, it is not out there.
A friend gave me some good advice about marriage. He said to keep both eyes wide open before the wedding, and then afterward to close one. That was good worm management advice. That “drug” induced fog we can find ourselves in has a way of minimizing worms, or making them disappear altogether. But that is the very time that you need to be taking a close look at worms because they have a way of growing. After you become one with someone else, then your and your beloved’s worms become your worms; “your” meaning the two of you. So one of the things you might keep both eyes wide open for is to see how your future spouse manages worms, because your spouse will have plenty to manage. Such is life.
Keep in mind that some of the worms that you can encounter can grow to monsters. Believe me also on this, my beloveds, love will not overcome some worms. We humans are masters at lying to ourselves to get what we want, and then to get rid of the same when we realize that we no longer want it. The best plan is to have realistic expectations, ask for and listen to Godly counsel, and be willing to put yourself through a little pain early to save yourself from a lot of pain later.
I talked to an 85 year old man just the other day. He was on his 68th year of marriage and his wife is now suffering from dementia. As I talked to him I didn’t have to ask him if he had lived through 67 years of marital bliss. Ups and downs are a part of marriage, and the ups can be high and the downs can be low. But learning that love is more than some blissful high, and in fact can endure dark days void of any feeling at all, will not only pave the way for the happiest life you can expect, it will grow you up into a sound, grounded and mature human being. As your father I want you to live as happy of lives as you can possibly live. But I am a realist, and I desire that you be a realist also. So I pray that you would thoroughly understand that you live in a fallen world, and that you bring your own fallen nature to bear on that world also. I pray that you learn to manage disappointments and even to flourish as a husband and a wife in spite of them, and perhaps I might even dare to say, because of them. I pray that you would be godly, raise godly children, and would love God with all you can muster, all the days of your life.