Happy Birthday. We are moving to Texas. That is how my 29th birthday card read. It was the day before my birthday, and to be honest I was relieved by the news. My husband and I had endured 15 months of his unemployment/underemployment after he had been laid off from the oil field, and we had become desperate. So desperate that when we had found out about that job just the week before, I was praying, “God, please take us to Texas.” A year before, I would not have been so inclined. I can vividly recall telling him before we were engaged, “ok, just so you know, I will never move out of Castle Rock, CO and I will absolutely NEVER move to Texas.” Isn’t God hilarious?! I didn’t think so for the whole first year we were here.
Author Leeana Tankersley writes in her book “Begin Again” that beginning again feels like failure. Yet, life is all about beginning again. We are always beginning again. In my life, I have been guilty of creating expectations in my head; expectations of people’s behavior, expectations of how scenarios are supposed to go, and other people’s actions. I live in a fantasy world where everyone *should* do the interpersonal work, seek growth and wisdom and be on a prescribed journey toward becoming what I think a good version of them would be. Gross, right? I *should* on people I love and desire deeper connection with. However – here is the kicker – if that were reality, if people did what I thought they should do, it wouldn’t actually be a relationship. It would be a puppet show and I would be the puppet master and there wouldn’t be any intimacy. Disappointment has become a companion of mine, lately. You see, all these people around me aren’t doing what I want them to. (I literally laughed out loud as I typed that). *Facepalm* Disappointment, however wouldn’t be possible without these expectations.
When I moved to Texas I had this expectation that I would live near wide open spaces, I would ride frequently, we would immediately find lasting community and my husband and my financial struggles would end immediately. When we arrived we found ourselves in a wooded region, riding maybe 1-3 times every few months, we have already changed churches once and we even still had to maintain a strict budget?! I want a refund. You can take me back to Colorado now, please.
I have these expectations of my parents to never make mistakes, and to always be perfect and to absolutely never be embarrassing or human. I am shocked repeatedly when they reveal to me their humanity! How dare they! But truthfully, it does come as a huge disappointment, because of that unrealistic expectation. My anger and frustration is through the roof.
I had expectations of a close friend of mine here in Texas to spend time with me, stay friends with me, share ministry ideas with me, so when she started avoiding me, my heart was shattered I was obviously hurt and confused. My unmet expectation left me with even greater anger.
But… always… we begin again. As I sit and reflect on these disappointments, I tenderly care for my heart, trying to peel off the expectations that seem stuck to my insides like tape residue. Who am I without these expectations? What is life going to look like without these expectations? Can I trust God with these people? Can I trust God with me?
When I slow down long enough to hear his still small voice, I hear, “Yes, you can trust me. I created you. I know every detail about you. I know things about you that you have yet to discover. Let go of the expectations, the hurt. And receive my love regardless of the mistakes you make. They don’t matter to me because I can’t see them through the blood of my Son.”
Who am I to hold a grudge, or be angry because of an unmet expectation when I disappoint God daily? The more days I live, the more years added to my life, the greater awareness I have of how much I need Him. This world (including me) is so broken. It is so incredibly messy. Everyone is doing the best he or she can. And always, WE are beginning again.