Issues of Life

The Dreams That Get In The Way Of Joy

Yesterday, I watched two interesting films, that combined to leave a lasting impression on me. They were secular films, but had such great lessons. The first was “Everyone says I love you“, an old (1996) musical comedy with an all-star cast that included Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and Woody Allen.

I’m not a fan of musicals or old movies (except Indian movies and The Sound of Music!), so the only reason I watched it was because of the all-star cast and my favorite, Julia Roberts. I didn’t expect to get much out of it, but I really did.

My lesson was drawn from Julia’s experience with Woody (I can’t remember the names of their characters). Julia’s character was dissatisfied with her marriage. She thought her husband was not her true love, because they seemed to have little in common. She had some neurotic ideas, which she shared with her therapist, and felt that only her true love would connect with her on that level. Apparently, her husband was oblivious about her dissatisfaction!

Coincidentally, Woody’s daughter had been eaves-dropping on her sessions with the therapist, and knew all her secrets. When her father notices Julia one day, she tells him all her secrets so that he can woo her and steal her from her husband. He follows the plan, and surprisingly (very surprising because he was not in the least bit attractive or eloquent or even charming (in my opinion), and was much older than her) she falls for it!!!

So they have a brief affair, as Julia explores her fantasies with him. However, a twist in the story happens. Julia is now dissatisfied with the affair, and wants to return to her husband. Not because Woody didn’t fulfill her fantasies, but because he made them real! She had lived her dream, and in her own words was “no longer haunted” by it! She could now live in the present with her husband, who now had more to offer her than Woody.

How many of us are like Julia’s character? Discontented by a dream? We constantly look for reasons to be unhappy with our spouse, focused on the ways he or she doesn’t meet our expectations. But such dreams are a mirage. Should we chase after them, or allow them to taunt us, we will allow ourselves to be miserable in the present and hurt the one we professed to love with our unfaithfulness. In the end, we may not have anyone to return to.

The second film was “Hello Ladies: The Movie” starring Stephen Merchant and Christine Woods. Their relationship started by accident, when Stephen asked Christine to be his fake Hollywood girlfriend, to impress his ex-girlfriend and her arrogant new boyfriend visiting from England. After they successfully deceived the pair, they returned to Stephen’s home (where Christine lived as his roommate), and they shared a brief moment which led to them sleeping together.

The next day, Stephen decided to ask Christine on an actual date, thinking that they had a real connection. Christine makes up an excuse and turns him down. However, soon after, Stephen spies her on a date with someone else and is hurt. When he finally brings up the issue with her, she explains that he is too immature, and not the kind of guy she sees herself married to. Inevitably, Stephen asks her to find somewhere else to stay, and they amicably go their separate ways.

However, Stephen learns something, and changes his approach to life, from being a people-pleaser seeking popularity to being more confident about who he is and appreciating his real friends.  When Christine bumps into a former friend of Stephen’s and learns about how he took her words to heart, she’s happy.  She invites him to her birthday party, and they meet again after a long time.

Stephen inquires about Christine’s boyfriend, and she tells him she doesn’t think he is the one either.  He now shares his philosophy, which is about ‘percentages’.  He explains that there is not one person that is 100% for someone all the time, but that we have to judge based on how we feel around them most of the time.  He told her that he is happy with her 82% of the time, though she drives him nuts 18% of the time.  This made her smile.  As he leaves the party, she approaches him and tells him that she’s happy with him 79% of the time!  With that established, they decided to give love a try after all.

Christine’s character is like many women looking for love…and unfortunately like many women (and men) who have found love, but don’t realise.  We are looking for perfection, when that doesn’t exist – even in ourselves.  Love doesn’t ask why, like Celine Dion sings.  It just is. And sometimes, we are happy, despite our expectations, with someone who we never thought was our type.  It shows how little we know about ourselves.  And unfortunately, a 10% discrepancy can make us want to discard a really good thing…

After watching these movies, I smiled inside and out.  It was a relief.  One thing that was different with my husband, which I hadn’t experienced with another man before, was the feeling of peace.  I felt at home with him, I was fully myself with him, and I always loved to have him around.  So, he is not the most romantic guy, but if I am honest, I am happy with him 90% of the time!  Our love is easy.  I’m just a bit of a neurotic drama queen, always looking for trouble where there is none.  And somehow, he copes with that!!!

Love is really not that complicated.  Like life, we have to be in the moment to appreciate it.  Otherwise we will always be chasing a dream, living discontent lives, as time and opportunities for joy passes us by.  And those discrepancies are actually what adds colour, drama and beauty to our relationships, as we iron them out to get to the place of maturity and oneness with each other.  If we had everything we ever wanted, it is quite possible we would be miserable for a lack of something to aspire to.

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10 replies »

  1. Great post, Ufuoma!

    I am learning that dreams in this life are always a bit lacking. I think everyone wants to be the hero, not realizing the depth of sacrifice it requires. People want to live happily ever after, not understanding that life is full of good and bad seasons. We expect perfection, but always come up empty until we make God our dream. Once being like Him becomes the dream, things take a different turn. He satisfies completely, he provides what we need for the day and gives us joy that trumps circumstance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Amen to that! Being like God is the dream, in the sense that we desire to have His qualities of love and humility, and not to dethrone Him as sovereign.

      I appreciate your contribution! Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I will be honest, when I first started reading this post I thought about skipping it and going to another…all that lubby dubby stuff just ain’t for me. However, I continued to read and am glad I did. There were some really good nuggets in there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with your thoughts here and just want to share a few things I’ve learnt from a wonderful teacher of the Gospel have made the greatest impact on me.

    1. When we truly understand just how much God loves us; it will not matter who else doesn’t (spouse included, i.e. if they don’t).
    2. The only ones who can let us down are those we lean on… so lean on Jesus and we’ll never be let down.
    3. We try to use relationships/friendships, careers, addictions etc. to fill a void in us that will always leave us dissatisfied/empty because only God can fulfill this innate desire within each and everyone of us for something outside of ourselves… something that can only be found in Him.
    I think we give these desires names (as above: romance, love, careers, success, material/financial gains etc.)… but just like the Julia character, even when the desires become fulfilled the individual is still left dissatisfied. Many have climbed the hill of success only to find there’s absolutely nothing at the top.
    So coming back to the title of the post, sadly all of us have fallen prey to some form of dream getting in the way of our joy; made especially worse when we neglect to appreciate the present moment and suspend joy thinking it’s the prize we pick up at the end of the journey.

    Jeremiah says it beautifully: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.KJV
    O Lord, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself; It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life]. AMP

    Liked by 1 person

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