Today, I want to tell you a story that takes place in a land far, far away, but hits very close to home.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that my boyfriend forgot to tell me that he is next in line for the throne of a tiny European country no one has heard of making him the most eligible bachelor in the western hemisphere, a fact that somehow escaped my notice during our six months of dating, as did his origin from a place where, oddly, everyone speaks with a fake British accent; so we travel to his childhood castle where his mother, the queen, thinks that I am unqualified to be a royal but eventually comes around because I am the best thing that ever happened to her country and her son. Mmm-hmm.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that I have to leave my very important corporate job in the big city to take care of my father who broke his ankle during the busiest season of the year back at the poinsettia farm where I run into my old high-school flame, who dumped me and broke my heart, but—he dumped me because he didn’t want to keep me from fulfilling my dream of becoming an illustrious event planner in a thriving metropolis, and now that I’ve fulfilled that dream, I can chuck it, take over the family business, and we can live happily ever after.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that a brash but handsome executive from a land development company comes to my small town to buy up all the family-owned businesses so they can put up some condos out in the middle of nowhere that will ruin the community; so the cute corporate dude and I badger back and forth, like Harry and Sally only with really cheesy dialogue, while I start a petition and call a town meeting where I give an impassioned speech about how special our town is—and all the small business owners refuse to sell out, even though it would fully fund their retirements, and my attractive archrival falls in love with my passion, quits his job, and becomes a small town guy.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that my family owned bakery is about to go under but I enter a world-renowned baking competition that just happens to take place in a city twenty miles away and offers a $100,000 cash prize because baking competitions always offer an incentive that could pay off your house, and then a fetching, famous baker, who does wonders with filo, agrees to headline the competition and is shocked to discover that a small town girl knows a few things about baking that he doesn’t, and I win the competition, and I win the guy, who relocates his corporate headquarters to my tiny little town and fully funds my new baking empire.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that my non-stop flight to meet my fiancée and his stuck-up, rich parents is grounded during a blizzard and I have to take a cross-country road trip with an outrageously handsome stranger in his late thirties who is completely normal but somehow never married because this guy, yea—this guy, was left at the alter by his fiancé for some short accountant type who happens to be his brother, right, and this stranger makes me question my future, and my past, and, well, just everything, and we fall in love and I break up with my boyfriend, whose snooty rich parents thought I wasn’t good enough for him anyways, and they are happy, and so am I.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that my big important dream job in the city doesn’t fulfill me so I go on a vacation to a beautiful country B&B with bad plumbing, and a shockingly attractive but strangely unattached single dad, who is the town fix-it-all, fixes the pipes and fixes my heart showing me what really matters in life, so I quit my wildly lucrative corporate job to carve ice sculptures for a living because that was my childhood dream, and we get married and live happily ever after on food stamps and Gatorade.
I want to live in a land where the worst thing that happens is that I make a silly wish and wake up in an alternate universe where I never married or had kids and I’m a successful, rich and famous career woman who shatters glass ceilings and lives in a pristine, magazine-cover-kind-of mansion with unstained furniture and sparkling floors, and I drive an Audie RS 5 Sportback, and I wear designer clothes that fit my trim body—and then, I realize how empty and shallow and meaningless all of that is and more than anything I miss my best friend, and I miss my munchkins, and I miss my filthy house filled with stained furniture and my 2004 Honda Odyssey with the cracked windshield and my closet filled with pregnancy clothes that still fit—and I wake up right back where I’m supposed to be, at home in my crazy stressful life with my husband and my kids.
Yes, it’s true. I’m a fully grown, responsible, competent, educated woman.
And sometimes I want to live in a snow globe.
I want to live in a land where icing conveniently smears on my cheek so that a special someone can wipe it away, and mistletoe is conveniently placed right where I want it to be, and my balance conveniently fails when I’m on a ladder near the most attractive stranger in town.
A land where everything is beautiful and everyone is beautiful and anything bad that happens happened a long time ago and I don’t ugly cry about it anymore with snot dripping off my nose while doubled over in a fetal position in my closet as guttural screams of “Why, dear God, Why?” gush out of me making my two-year-old run out of the room yelling, “Mommy crying again!” as I sob and the house quakes.
A land where there is a slight bit of tension and frustration but everything is resolved in 115 minutes, and everyone falls in love and kisses with perfect lighting and synthesizer music playing in the background as the credits roll giving the distinct impression that they live happily ever after.
No one does. Not even the people who make Hallmark films.
No. We live in a place where accidents wreck families and babies have genetic disorders and women are abused and spouses cheat and children die.
I hate to bring up all that stuff after painting such a lovely picture of life in a Christmas village, but that stuff keeps me up at night. So, I bet it keeps you up at night, too.
I weep over the loss and the disappointment and the despair and the heartache and the tragedy of it all. I weep over what should be and isn’t. I weep over betrayal and abuse, disorders, disease, and death.
Compared to all that, a Hallmark film looks pretty good. So, sometimes I gobble up a movie or two with a La Croix and big bag of Lays. And afterwards, I sit there bloated, distracted, and a bit dazed.
Because I don’t really want to live in a Hallmark film.
I don’t want to live in a land where love is so easy and life is so shallow. A land where there aren’t struggles and triumphs and problems and purpose and even a little pain.
I don’t want to live in a land where there aren’t real obstacles and real victories and real pressures and real people.
I don’t want to live in a land where there isn’t a God and there isn’t a Savior and there isn’t redemption and there isn’t the promise of something much better to come.
One day, I’ll live in a land that really is perfect, the kind of perfect that makes a Hallmark film look like a cheap carnival ride. Silly and short-lived. Shallow and unsatisfying.
I want to live in a land where a Man dressed in white runs toward me with unwavering focus, his eyes staring straight into mine, and, after what feels like a lifetime, He embraces me beside some pearly gates on some streets made of gold and tells me that He could hardly wait for me to get there, and that I lived my life well—that I pressed through the pain, that I had faith in the storms, that I mastered the challenges, that I overcame the obstacles, that I perfected the gifts, that I worked oh-so-hard, that I let Him heal everything that hurt me and then I helped heal the hurt in those around me, that I made a difference in a lot of lives, that I led a lot of people to those pearly gates, that I consumed so much of His Word that I became one with it and it made me look like Him, that I made Him proud, that I did what He created me to do—that I was a good and faithful child.
No—I don’t really want to live in a Hallmark film.
I want to live in heaven.
I want to live with Jesus.
Until then, I want to live right where I am. And I want to do all that I can to help a lot of people live with Jesus in that land someday.
Don’t you want to live there, too?
Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright — turned stay-at-home-mother—turned author, podcaster, speaker and blogger. She is dedicated to helping parents be a godly example for their kids in an ungodly world.
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