I read the book, "Great Expectations" in high school. I remember the character, Pip. Even though his hopes and expectations were continually dashed, he somehow persevered through it all. Other characters became hardhearted, cruel, and bitter when their expectations and hopes didn't come to fruition. Their bitterness rubbed off on others and their expectations became tainted as well.
I find that expectations are a tricky....maybe even a dangerous thing. I'm sorry to say this while all of you are making your New Year's resolutions and revising your "Bucket Lists". More times than not, I have found that my expectations let me down. For example: When I expect my husband, when he comes home from work, to read my mind and my body language in order to ascertain that I've had a really hard day, and instead of taking me in his arms and whispering compassionately, "You, seem like you've had a rough day. Why don't we go out for a bite to eat?", he pecks me on the lips, greets the dog, heads upstairs to change while calling down the stairs, "So, what's for dinner?" Great, unmet, expectations.
I had envisioned that, at this stage in life, I would be an empty-nester with two fabulously well adjusted grown children and perhaps a grandchild or two. I'd be snapping photos as I traveled to far away places and life would somehow be "easy". Instead, in the past five years, I've had as many surgeries. I've stared down cancer again. Any small trips I took were dampened by pneumonia and then food poisoning. My "children" have their fair share of adult problems, but I do have a sweet, though untrained, rescue grand-dog named Allen who thinks I'm the best thing since peanut butter.
The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Granted, I've had to cancel more plans than I've been able to follow through with....But, God. These surgeries were not on my "Bucket List", but literally not being able to walk for two months brought me into such a close and intimate relationship with God. I couldn't "do" much, but I could be in His Word every day.
I was able to not only read, but meditate on His Word, ask Him questions, explore my doubts, pray, and most of all just "BE" in His presence.
I found that simply "being" instead of "doing" things enabled God to just delight in me and share with me His wisdom. Focusing on "being" brought our hearts and minds together in such a way that took our relationship to a whole new level....a level that previously I had only dreamed about.
After all, our main purpose in life is to be in relationship with God. This is why He created us....period.
My writing became richer and my faith grew enormously. I lived out the scripture that says in the midst of our trials, His grace is, indeed, sufficient!
I haven't completely abandoned my "bucket list" nor my desire to lose 20 pounds, read more, take better care of myself including exercising and eating well, make plans I can actually follow through with, spend more time with the people I love.
But, I must say that I look to living more simply (ie: getting rid of stuff), delighting in the small and overlooked, enjoying where I am instead of wishing about where I'd like to be instead, being thankful for God's gifts I already have rather than looking for more.
I am concentrating on allowing God to set my course and asking for His enabling to be more open to the experiences He sets before me.
Yes, I will still make plans, but I don't place as many expectations on them. Whatever happens, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can count on God to show up and be there for me. That, in and of itself, is a pretty unbelievable gift.
Right now, I am simply enjoying being able to walk. Not sure that would have been on my "bucket" list, but it certainly is sweet. I walk slower these days, but that allows me more time to take in the beauty around me instead of rushing off to the next thing on my list.
I also take great encouragement that God used a lot of "senior citizens" to do some of the greatest works in the Bible. Abraham and Sarah had long ago let go of the expectation of having a child, but look what God did in their very old age. He met the desire of their hearts and it changed history. Sometimes we need to let go of our expectations in order for God to give us the very best. And, the very best often looks very different than the expectations we once held so dear.
Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you give us more than we could ever ask or imagine. Forgive me for limiting you with "my" expectations. Help me to know that it is YOU that sets my course and has numbered my days before the world began. Enable me to put my trust in you and look to you for what you would have me do. Help me to not grow bitter when expectations are not met, but to persevere in your strength. Help me to learn what you would have me learn from each and every experience. More than anything, let being in close relationship with you be the first item on my bucket list this year. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
What about you? What's on your "bucket list" or New Year's resolution list? How does God's plan fit in with your plan? Have you ever set your own course only to have unmet expectations? Please share what you've learned in the comments...I'd love to hear!