In less than 24 hours, despite mama-duties, sleep, and homework, I was able to start and finish Jennifer Fulwiler's One Beautiful Dream and although I had a different post planned to today, I absolutely had to share about it while it was still bright and fresh in my mind.
One Beautiful Dream, Fulwiler's second book, is a memoir about her journey to write her first book as a mom of two that would become six over the course of eight years. The book starts and end in the grocery store and shows her development as a woman of faith, mother, and a writer despite her misgivings and beliefs about what make a good mother. Fulwiler begins with a particular vision about what the ideal Catholic mother would look like. As life goes on, she uses her greater community of women to depict that we all different callings within our vocations. A woman can be called to the vocation of a single lay person, a religious order, or marriage and still pursue her passions.
By the end of the book, Fulwiler has published her first book and realized that her dream, to be a good mother and author, is not possible on her own. The truth is, when we make our dream our community's dream, it becomes a much greater, more beautiful thing than we could have every imagined.
Four Life Lessons
1.) "You make time for your work as it fits in to your family; you don't make for your family as it fits into your work."
I won't beat around the bush here, concept of "the hustle" in US culture is toxic. It does no one any good (except for maybe your bank account) but you can't take that with you anyways! We should be good, mindful stewards with the blessings God gives us, just like the servants who take their talents and bring back more to their Master in "The Parable of the Talents". However, the attitude that if you worked just a little more here and bit more there, picked up a second job, had a side hustle... it's never-ending and it is not what we are called to do!
2.) "Life isn't about having it all, but being good at not having it all."
There is sacrifice involved in cultivating the life you dream of. You cannot be both full-time stay-at-home mom and a full-time youth minister; you have to be willing to accept help and leave your children with another member of your community to pursue your passion. Through willingness to adjust your dream, the bigger dream can be achieved. This may mean reordering your priorities (such as deciding between moving to a less expansive place to live or remaining close to family). With the intentional priorities and a purposeful approach to life, we can embrace the great and not-so-great parts that result in overall success.
3.) "Unite with your family. Bring them into what you do, and bring what you do into your family. Move in unity, not apart from one another...if you do this, you will find joy-more joy than you can image."
This is a big one and was told to Fulwiler by a priest during a confession. It was here that she began to realize something that as a US culture, we have long forgotten. There is no success in our individualist thinking. There is no joy in doing it on our own. But when we work together, as symphony rather than as a soloist, we can create a much bigger, more beautiful sound than we could have ever on our own. I have dear cousin who showed me this long before I could even recognize it. She had her fifth little one a little before I had my first and I was struck by how well she handled her four little girls and the new baby. One thing that she said that has really stayed with me is an explanation to the older siblings that they were no longer on their time, but the baby's time: when he needs to eat, we stop what we're doing and let him eat; when he needs to sleep, we make space for him to sleep.
She united four little people around serving the needs of the one who absolutely could not care for himself. Despite a hardworking husband who is often busy, she was not alone in her service and care of her infant because she united her little family around a common goal. Wow.
4.) What you're looking at? This is my life."
Fulwiler's realization that service does not stop when the children are more self-sufficient is big one. There are different seasons of life for each vocation that call us to serve and be served. When one ends, another begins. There's not going back to the things were. There's not point in clinging to what our lives used to be. This is our life and it is good. God has a plan for each of us. We can either embrace it or always dream about the next step, the next season, the next things. Life is never going to be perfect but we can love it just the same.
There is so much more goodness from One Beautiful Dream than I want to share with you because honestly, you should buy the book and read it for yourself. It is such a good read and well worth your time and money. I laughed, I cried (no really, I did!), and couldn't put the book down for the life of me. What are you waiting for? Go read it!