I don't think there has ever been a book I have highlighted so much. I didn't know I was such an idealist until I read this book nor did I know how to deal with my idealistic tendencies.
Idealist defined by good ol' M-Web (and quoted in the book page 16)
"A person guided by principles or hopes rather than by practicality. Someone who looks on the more favorable side of life and events, expecting the best outcome. Someone who envisions an ideal world rather than reality."
When I first read this I was a little put off. I felt like, "No! That isn't me. I am practical. I am not just living in a Disney version of life." But as I kept reading the book and read about the gap between expectation and reality, I was sold. I have A LOT of expectations. I don't want to. I try not to. I make gratitude lists regularly. For the past 2 months I have been saying 5 things I am grateful for everyday. I try to ground myself in gratefulness for what I have rather than in hopeful expectations that are not very realistic.
Here is my expectation to the right.
This picture perfect family... literally, I just googled these people, I don't know them. Matching costumes, perfectly fit, and adorable kid. What the heck- How are they so perfect looking? I made the picture small so that I wouldn't look at it too long and get envious. I am sure they are a very lovely family....or maybe they are paid models. I think I'll go with that one. They are paid models in my mind now.
But as my toddler screamed and cried when I shoved his costume on him, I soon realized getting this perfect picture was not going to happen the way I envisioned it.
Many people told me that being a mom is a great way to meet new people and make great new friendships. So naturally my idealist self thinks ANY mom who has a kid around the same age as mine will become my BFF. We will have playdates weekly, we will swap toys, swap food recipes, and we will enjoy our kids bedtime over a glass of wine and a cheesy Bollywood movie. These are REAL thoughts I have! This googled picture also summarized my thoughts well.
But as I have found, it's a lot harder to build mom-friends for a variety of reasons.
When we moved into our most recent rental I was praying and really was SURE that our neighbors would be sweet nice couple who would fall in love with our son and us and want to babysit all the time and cook us banana bread.
But, alas, my neighbors glared at me for a while and made it clear that all they want out of a relationship is for me to stay out of the way. (I made them some banana bread so now I get a nice smile sometimes)
I could literally go on an on with examples. I have DAILY examples.
Being a new mom (I don't know when I'll no longer be a new mom - because every stage is new- I think I always will be one which is fine by me- makes me feel like I can get more grace and compassion)
....so yes being a new mom, I have had SO many expectations and MANY are unmet and MOST were unrealistic.
This isn't to say that my whole time being a mom has been one big disappointment, it has been AMAZING and I love it SO much but I also have wounded myself with my unrealistic expectations.
Here is a list of several of MY expectations I have had in relation to motherhood- maybe you can relate?
-WHEN I was going to have a baby. For me it was 2 years earlier than I expected and so this unexpected surprise took a while for me to get used to and surrender to
-How my birth was going to go
-When baby would actually come vs when he really came (due dates are struggling- cheers to the mommas who had to endure to 40+ weeks of pregnancy)
-How the first couple days would go with baby
-How I would feel (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) after baby came
-The temperament of my child
-How "easy" my baby would be
-How breastfeeding and pumping would go
-How my husband going back to work would be
-How me going back to work would be
-How my relationship with God would be after baby came
-How my relationship with my husband would be after baby
-How my relationship with my family and friends would be after baby
-How quickly I would lose the baby weight (cheers to those mommas who it took a long time. shhh to the mommas who didn't do anything and it just shed off you)
These things were not all negative, many of them were positives but ALL of them were DIFFERENT than what I expected.
"Well Elaina, just stop having so many expectations. Don't expect anything."
Okay. Tried that... and guess what? It didn't go as expected.
That's like telling me to stop breathing. It's not natural for me.
But you know what is natural for me? (this is taken from page 128-129 of the book describing strengths of an idealist)
I am enthusiastic about the future possibilities. I strive for self-renewal and personal growth. I strive to become the best possible self I can be and deeply desire to help others grow too. I have an active imagination and think of new cool ideas all the time. I love being visionary and I really do want to change the world! I am eager to tell others about new discoveries I have made and get great energy from doing so.
So although being an Idealist can bring lots of disappointment and "wounds" from unmet, unrealistic expectations, it also has some amazing strengths.
The end of the book talks about being a faithful realist: "people able to see reality through a God-lens. Men and women of courage determined to advance despite the facts, bold dreamers grounded in God's will." (pg 111)
I want to be THAT more than I want to be the earlier definition of an idealist.
The book gave me some great spiritual practicals that I have been implementing since but I won't spoil it for you or for the authors of the book. Go read it for yourself, or for a friend or for a child. Then, after you read it we can live happily ever after...oh wait, that wasn't the point of the book? Just kidding.
"Jesus changed the world for all eternity. He was a visionary leader and a brave preacher. He faced stiff opposition and constant criticism. He was able to see the reality of the sinful world around him yet was not discouraged by it. He was compassionate but not naive. Bold and unashamed. But above all, he was humble. The true faithful realist." (pg 124)