When you hear the word expectation, do you think of it as a positive, negative or neutral word?
I used to think of expectation as a positive word. The excitement of what was about to happen was thrilling-the anticipation of a family holiday, a birthday, or grandparents coming to visit caused a bubbling of joy to seep from my heart. As I got older, the expectation of one day marrying and having children of my own brought fanciful imaginations. Over time expectations became realities and those realities morphed into responsibility.
As my daily dose of responsibility has seemed to compound exponentially, I can feel burdened under the pressures of expectations that have accumulated around me. Children who need feeding, work that needs tending, friendships that need maintenance, and societal rules have gathered into every nook and cranny of my life. Expectations, realities, dreams, and heartbreak have become all muddled up into a confusing ball of emotions that sits undigested in the pit of my stomach. Most days, I can not bear even the thought of another expectation placed on me.
At the end of last year, I was asked a question, “What do you want to leave in 2020.” My immediate answer was, “I want to leave expectations behind me.” I want to surrender the expectations of who I thought my children would be and learn to love the person that they are. I want to do away with the idea of the person I’ve been trying to become for 40 years and accept the person who lives in the skin I inhabit. I want to release the definition of success that meant success would always be just outside of my grasp. Instead, I want to embrace the victories that already exist inside and around me. I want to wrap my arms around grace and peace and hope, and I want to draw them so close to my body that they seep into me until my hands are wrinkled from soaking in them.
I yearn for expectations to feel like hope again, instead of a prison sentence. Many of the responsibilities that burden my life are the very things that I confidently and prayerfully waited for. With bated breath, I held the expectation that my dreams would one day come true. I now live in the reality of what I only dreamed of before. So why does it feel so burdensome?
I realise that I have become burdened by the responsibility of expectation fulfilled. I’ve stopped daring to dream or hope or expect anything else because the price of responsibility seems too great. I have been so fixated on the responsibility that I forgot to look for the joy of dreams come true.
Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
This year I plan on eating the fruit from the trees of my life. I’ve been so busy toiling to maintain the trees, I forgot to sit under their branches and be renewed by hope fulfilled. I’m guessing that as I find renewal, new hopes and expectations will come, and maybe they will bubble with joy again.
My prayer for those of you whose lives feel gritty with expectations is that you can find hope once again-not in something new or outside of you- but in the desires that have already found fulfilment in your life.
May I leave you with this song by Candice Accola. Go in Peace.
Go in peace, go in kindness.
Go in love, go in faith.
Leave the day, the day behind us.
Day is done, go in grace.
Let us go into the dark, not afraid, not alone.
Let us hope by some good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.