Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

There’s A Worm In Everything, Managing Expectations And Preparing For Marriage

Dear Children,

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 realized. When we’re really looking forward to something, we tend to build it up in our mind to the point that it possesses no downside. But then the day arrives when we finally get what we’ve been looking forward to and then the flaws begin to show up. We then realize that it’s falling way short of our expectations. Those problems, along with other unexpected difficulties, are the worms, and you need to know early that these worms are going to find their way into everything. That’s just life.

When we are young, our expectations tend to be placed on smaller events. But when we’re older, our expectations can be placed in life-encompassing endeavors like careers and marriage. And not having reasonable expectations, or worse, refusing to consider the downsides in those endeavors, is a recipe for ruinous disappointment. No matter how wonderful you think something’s going to be before it arrives, you can be sure that it’s going to have its downsides. You would be wise, therefore, to prepare yourself ahead of time by simply expecting the worms along with the treasures.

It’s 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 manage the disappointments that are coming, it will also help you to learn while you are young to approach all of life with realistic expectations.

Marriage is probably the most expectation-filled venture that you’ll ever undertake, and likewise, it will also be the one place that worms can do the most damage. God designed us to feel a powerful feeling when we find ourselves attracted to someone, especially when we know that they are attracted to us. It’s like a drug. And as drugs go, they wear off. Then you realize that you’ve been blinded for a time, and now you’re noticing some worms that had previously gone unnoticed. You can be sure of this also, it’s not like the worms might be there; I’m promising you that they most definitely will be there. But don’t feel bad. Your spouses will be dealing with their fair share of worms too. Such things are a given. But just because you have encountered a few worms doesn’t mean that you ought to abandon your new family and go chase some supposed worm-free fantasy. On the contrary, 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 they don’t feel like it.

That 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 have not been disappointed. 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 we are looking forward to a long life together. 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 I think. That drug-induced fog we can find ourselves in has a way  of making those worms disappear, or at least  it gives us an amazing ability to downplay them. But that is the very time that you need to be taking a closer look, because some worms have a way of growing when the fog lifts. After you become one with someone else, then your beloved’s worms become your worms. 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 certainly have plenty to manage.  Such is life.

Remember that some of the worms that you can encounter can grow into 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 in 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 knowing up front that love is more than some blissful high, and that it may even include dark days void of any feeling at all, will help pave the way for the happiest life you can expect.

As your father I want for you to live as happy of a life as you possibly can. 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. I pray that you would learn to manage disappointments and even learn to flourish as a husband and a wife in spite of them, or maybe even 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.

Your father

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