Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Living a Fairy Tale

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Everyone knows the ingredients to a fairy tale life. The perfect marriage. Beautiful children. Encouraging friends. Financial security.

One couple didn’t stop with the basics. They decided to include the castle.

photo by Bert Kaufmann

photo by Bert Kaufmann

A Place to Call Their Own

After a tour of ancient Europe in 1968, Rex and Caroline Martin developed a new plan when they arrived home. They would build their own castle.

The couple discovered success through several business ventures, most notably the coal mining industry. Life was good. And they chose to dream bigger.

It must have been scary to take on such a huge endeavor. But they moved forward despite the risk. They pressed on despite the doubters.

Land was purchased. Architects drew plans. Contractors gathered resources. Bulldozers moved earth.

The home itself would be over 10,000 square feet with 7 bedrooms and 15 baths. The front entrance decorated with a fountain purchased in Italy. The grounds covered by elaborate gardens. The structure framed by 12 different turrets. The property surrounded by a 12 foot privacy wall made of stone.

Their dream for their life, and the home that would serve as a landmark to it, were big

But eventually their dream completely fell apart.

When Bigger Dreams are the Wrong Dreams

The Martins never moved in.

The couple divorced in 1975, the castle unfinished. Mr Martin kept the rights to the property. For the rest of his life he would try to sell it. When he passed away in 2003, he was still the owner, his dream having died many years before.

When it became obvious their dream would end in disrepair, many have speculated where the Martins had gone wrong. Perhaps they ran out of money. Perhaps their businesses started to fail. Maybe the divorce forced them to choose a different dream. Maybe their dream was the cause of the divorce.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain to everyone who sees it. This big dream failed. Adding this missing piece to their “fairy tale” life didn’t work.

My wife and I drove by this castle recently and were reminded of the story behind it. It is anything but subtle. And as we stared at the reminder, my wife made the simplest, but profound, assessment of what had gone wrong.

That was the wrong dream.

Today we encourage each other to dream bigger. Books are written pushing you to get over your fear and do more. Blogs are built around certain steps to a better life.

I agree that we need to refuse to settle for less. But more important than the size is the type of dream we pursue.

We don’t just need to dream bigger, we need to dream better. (Tweet that)

The Dream Jesus Has for Our Lives

Jesus knew we would all deal with this issue. He knew that all of us would want to pursue our big dreams.

So he told us how to dream better.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:24-25 ESV)

I don’t think Jesus is telling us that it is wrong to own a big house or drive a luxurious car. I don’t think he is telling us that anyone who lives in a shack is better than the person who lives in a castle.

And I don’t think Jesus is telling us what we have to do to gain favor with God. He already loves us. We are his kids. He couldn’t love us anymore than he does right now regardless of what dream we are pursuing.

I think Jesus is telling us that one day, our bigger dreams, like the Martins’ castle, won’t matter. Only our better dreams will.

Better dreams are filled with sacrifice for the good of others. Better dreams are filled with love, especially for the poor and the powerless. They are filled with the letting go of our own dreams to the point that we let go of our own lives.

Better dreams are about giving our lives away.

What’s in it For Me?

My bigger dreams focus on a better life for me. I want to increase my influence. I want to have the perfect job. I want financial independence. I want people to like me.

Chasing bigger dreams involves risk. Taking on risk requires overcoming fear.

While chasing these big dreams can be scary, I am more afraid of chasing better dreams. Specifically because pursuing better dreams means letting go of what I want for myself. Letting go of my plans. Letting go of my comfort. Letting go of my desire to be important. Letting go of my desire to be liked.

I am afraid of losing my life.

But when we lose our life, we experience something better than castles and knights and frog kisses.

We become a part of the story of redemption God is writing. We become the pencil he uses to write real life fairy tales in the lives of others. We participate in his making new the brokenness of the world.

Could there be a better story?

Is your story better than your biggest dreams?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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4 Replies

  1. What a great post! I needed to read this today, to not only have a bigger dream but a better one. When you said, “We become a part of the story of redemption God is writing. We become the pencil he uses to write real life fairy tales in the lives of others. We participate in his making new the brokenness of the world.”, what a great reminder! We are living as a part of the greatest story ever told by being God’s children and so often we get distracted looking for other stories.Thanks for this reminder!

  2. Brian

    Very helpful, brother, thank you!

  3. Jeremy thanks for being an example of being the change we want to see as well as demonstrating better dreams. We live in one of the greatest places ever for opportunity to help whomever, however we want to. Are we going to be self-focused, others-oriented? Thanks for continuously encouraging others to do more, and dream different.

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