Hopes, Dreams, and Barbies

My daughters were not allowed to play with Barbie’s until they were 4 and 6 years old. I know, I know. But this is what parents do. Especially with the first child. We are deathly afraid of scarring them for life – and we see “scar potential” in everything.

So until the fateful “Barbie ban” was lifted, our daughters – especially Emma (the oldest) – coveted the curvy toy. They played with them in secret when they went to friends’ houses. Emma, on a trip to my grandmother’s, spent an entire day in Barbie heaven when a fellow grandma gave her a huge box-o-Barbie’s to play with.

They would beg and plead for Barbie’s. When we were at Target or Wal-Mart, they would stare at the Barbie displays, longing spilling from every pore. Our friends and family joined them in the cause. How could we deny our daughters this American icon?

So we finally gave in. Emma and Ellie were thrilled. Our family was thrilled. Within weeks, they had a dozen Barbie’s with several changes of clothes, a carriage and horses, accessories, and dresses that matched their favorite Barbie’s. They were thrilled.

For a couple months.

Then they were done.

In a relatively short period of time, the “I can’t live without them” Barbie’s were collecting dust, and the girls had moved on. There were other toys they wanted more, other items they longed for in the toy store. The Barbie’s were fun for a while, but they weren’t as amazing as the girls thought they would be.

Isn’t that how it is, though, in life? The things we are SO sure we can’t live without are really only great when they’re unattainable. We only want what we can’t have.

My daughters did this with Barbie’s. I do this, too. If I could just buy that dress, that house, not have to move, sell more books…I could go on. The elusive “if onlys” can plague all of us.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, tells the believers that he has learned the secret to being content whether he has a lot or a little. And he tells us the secret: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

ALL things. Including living with the fact we can’t get everything we want. Learning to adjust our dreams to fit reality. Letting go of certain dreams because we trust God’s plans are far better than anything we can plan for ourselves.

Some of us are sure if we can just get __________, we’ll be happy. But like my daughters learned with their Barbie’s, happiness cannot be bought. But joy can be given. We can be content with a little or a lot if we learn to focus on the Giver and not the gifts.

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