Not What I Expected
I believe Shakespeare got it right when he warned, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” At least half right. I have been thinking a lot about expectations ever since my last rosary group meeting posed the intriguing question, “Does your life look different than you expected? How have your priorities changed as your faith increased?” It struck a cord in my heart. Due to my future oriented, planning obsessed personality, I pretty much live and die by the adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” While there is nothing wrong in planning, what expectations am I putting on my plans? Am I leaving room to surrender them to God? What am I ultimately expecting out of life?
Anyone who is living and breathing can understand, rarely does anything in life turn out how we expect. The relationship fails, the job disappoints, physical suffering abounds, our family size is disillusioned, the dream house forecloses…and it is all heartache. I certainly did not expect the exciting, early years of marriage to be this hard, not that my selfish, prideful sins would spill out in front of my beloved husband, not that I would face such a struggle with my motherhood career balance, definitely not that I would be homeschooling my children, and for even a trivial sake, not that we would be having another boy! The list goes on.
But let me turn the glass upside down. Let me change my lens to see that small, bright beam of light that faith pours through. Then I see the how my husband’s continued forgiveness has brought us closer than ever, how God is using my career desires for His glory, how my heart is bursting for love for those little boys kissing my cheeks, and how He’s patiently teaching me where my true hope should lie. Not in any way that I ever expected, and in every way better. We cannot doubt that God will use every unexpected and disappointing life turn for His glory if we allow ourselves to surrender to Him. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Can I change expectations of myself to expectations of God's unfailing love and care for my life? Can I allow my plans to be changed and my expectations to be unmet, without heartache, by placing my faith & hope in the things of heaven that truly matter?
Change your lens. Can you see how the unexpected relationship fail led you to where you are now, the unexpected job disappointment that opened other doors, the unexpected suffering you are using to unite or inspire others, the unexpected family planning that allowed His glory to shine, the unexpected time of unknown waiting bore lasting fruit, or how the unexpected necessity to detach from material things led to an increase in faith? If you are in the trenches of the unexpected now, pray for the faith to believe in God's hand through it.
Does my life look different than I expected? Yes. Have my priorities changed as my faith increased? Yes. Yet, through this lens of faith is it better than I could have ever humanly expected, and I feel closer to our Lord than I ever thought possible. The blessing of my recent family photos speak a thousand words to the gratitude in my heart of abandoning my plans to Him.
So if I may humbly insert “human” to Shakespeare’s quote for clarification. Yes, my human expectations will undoubtedly lead to heartache. But when I place these human expectations at the foot of the cross, they have the power to be divinely changed, and I am no longer disappointed. There is no heartache. God can break through my attachments to my own expectations and plans, and increase my faith in His divine plan for heaven. All of life, all the joy, all the suffering, all the successes, all the failures, become united to that divine plan to get me to heaven. That is something we can expect. Change your lens, abandon your human expectation, and without fail, it will be better than you could have ever humanly expected.
I pray this reflection leaves you with a peace to place your human expectations of your current life circumstances and challenges into the Hand’s of our good God, who will use all things as part of His divine plan to lead you to heaven!
You can place your Hope in our Lord. It will absolutely not be what you expect, and you can expect absolutely nothing less of Him.