This month has not gone the direction I thought it would. I had so many expectations, hopes and plans and very few to none of them came through the way I thought they would. Not that this month has been a complete mess of nothing good and all bad, but in the perspective of my expectations, it was lousy. I could write a list of all the things I expected (including not having to work on my birthday, getting to visit my best friend in Florida, spending Thanksgiving with my whole family, etc…) But it turned out that none of those happened. But on the other hand, I’m learning lessons through the dashed hopes of expectations.
I have been finding that while I’m flexible, and love spontaneous adventures, I like to plan. Let me write the date down on my calendar with the time in case I forget. I love getting together. But if it’s not planned in advance, it may never happen. I like to know what my schedule will look like for a day before it comes. If I’m honest, I would like God to tell my his future plans for my life in advance. If he could tell me what he’s got in store for me in another year or two, I would be able to plan accordingly and know what to expect.
And yet, as this past month showed me, life doesn’t always look that way. Some days there’s unexpected turns and twists that leave me frustrated because my plans and hopes for the day, week or month didn’t go the way I had hoped. Not even close. And yet again, this past month has showed me that life can still be okay, despite how messed up my plans were.
This past month I made plans to go see my best friend who has been in Florida visiting her family. I really, really, really, really (REALLY) wanted to visit her. From where I live to where she’s staying, I’m about a 8+ hour drive away. In one day I could see her. I had told her that I would probably get to come the second week of this month. Then I was on call to work. So I told her I wouldn’t make it. The week went by and I wasn’t needed to work (I did a little bit, but not as much as I had thought) So then I thought if the next week my boss would be off, I would be able to spend a week or so with her before heading north for the holidays. I told her and we talked about what we were going to do and how much fun we would have going on our walks and talking. And then much to my sadness, I found out I was needed that whole week to watch Noah. And then I thought I would leave that weekend for a quick visit before going to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. I had another unexpected plan dropped from thin air and I had to cancel that plan to attend a funeral. In four days, this month will be over and I’ll still have no gotten to see my best friend. And it really sucks and I’m really disappointed.
The point of that story is how much I put my hope in the expectations. As I’ve been thinking about how God has given me a life to plan and hope and dream, I’ve been realizing that I should not base my hopes and dreams on the expectations of how life is going to go. Because when I do base my hopes on those expectations, I found out that I will have a nasty internal attitude. It really makes me disappointed, sad and part of me wants to get upset with God, when he hasn’t done anything. I put it on myself. I let myself put my hope in what tomorrow would bring.
I always thought that I was pretty good at putting my hope in Christ. And I guess this is showing me that it doesn’t just mean saying it. Or that because I saying it, means I’m doing it. When my hope is grounded in the blessings that Christ can give me for the future, when my hope is based on the love that he wants to show me and the things he wants to teach me and the ways he wants to lead me, my attitude in life will be radically different. I won’t just say that he’s my hope, he will be, no matter what happens in life. I can look at the situations that I come across in life (like not getting to go to Florida, or not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my whole family) and I can either look at it and get bummed, moody, sulky and bitter. Or I can look at it and see the blessings of getting to spend more time reading books, more time with other friends, more time with two adorable children and more time thanking God for the opportunity to live for him in that moment of unexpected plans.
I want so bad to plan my life. I want to know what to expect, plan accordingly and have it happen that way. It’s like being able to walk through throne bushes without getting my wool sweater getting snagged. But that’s impossible. Life is going to snag us up and we’ll have to either pull the vines out of the way, or find another path. This month has been both for me. But mostly finding another path because the vines I was trying to walk through were getting thicker and thicker.
I’m still going to plan and be excited for those plans to happen. (I hope to come home for Christmas, hope to see my best friends while home, hope to see church family, etc…) But I know it may not happen the way I expect. I’m still probably going to hope that dreams and desires for my future will happen. (Travel the world, marry a farmer, go to Africa and love on babies, raise a family of 50+ children, grow old and die a martyr for Christ) But as the past couple years have shown me, God doesn’t always work in the way we expect. I want to get better at not allowing myself to hope in the expectations. I want to allow God to throw in his own plans and expectations for my life without me getting upset or frustrated that they are different from mine. I want to allow myself grace in the future when the unexpected comes and things get spun in directions I never saw come. I want to build a future hope on Christ, that no matter what, He will see me through the plans that never get to happen. He will be the one who is praised and worshiped in the unexpected storms that come up. He’s the one who gave me hope in the past to have hope in the present and future. It’s a day at a time. It’s not coming to me over night. But I hope to get better at this.
There is much to be thankful for, much that I have been blessed with, and much to expect for the future as this holiday season comes upon us again. But most importantly we have much to hope in Christ for all that he has done for us and through us.