I rushed around the house gathering all the things. We were headed to the pool, and I feel like the preparation is a bit endless at times. I finally put my own swimsuit on and called the girls to the bathroom. This day we were putting their hair up so they could actually see where they were swimming. And then I saw them. The most disgusting, icky, anxiety-producing, tiny bugs in her hair. I thought I was going to throw up, scream, and freak out all at the exact same time. I may have. No mom wants to be here. I dashed around the house trying to gather myself and figure out what I needed to do, searched my phone for undeniable confirmation, tried calling my husband for moral support (never works when you need it); all the while I’m scratching my own head uncontrollably and trying to keep my heebie geebies at bay. UGH!
To spare you all the details, the house was turned upside down. I spent my entire day washing EVERYTHING I owned in the hottest water possible, and in between I eradicated those little suckers one by one in my daughter’s hair (THE MOST DISGUSTING THING I MAY HAVE EVER DONE!). I treated all of us (except the baby). My mom came over and performed hair-ectomies. We conquered these little beasts with every fiber of our beings.
We didn’t make it to the pool. Yes, the pool will be there the next day and the next and the next, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I actually had a moment of wanting to ignore/pretend that the little beasts did not exist…because this wasn’t how the day was supposed to go. I really was very angry. No part of me wanted to surrender to THIS change of plans. Seriously.
I thought a lot that day in between my angry outbursts, a tearful phone call to my mom, and endless paranoia. Expectations for my day were ruined. Expectations for the summer felt a little bruised, and I’ve completely forgotten what I expected and dreamed about for the year.
Expectations, assumptions, even dreams and desires can all get a little jumbled and distorted in this world ~ broken world. Having children has absolutely ruined any idealistic expectations I’ve ever had. I don’t say this harshly. Honestly, I am grateful. I am an idealist at my very core and sanctification is necessary in this area. Valuing how things ought to be in the perfect world comes naturally to me. Some ideals are shared among the general public ~ ideally you wouldn’t have a car wreck, have to work, break a bone, burn your finger, miss a sale, pick bugs out of your daughter’s hair, etc, etc, etc. I have my own personal ideals too. A cup of coffee alone in the quiet of my home, a wrap-around porch, a made bed everyday, children getting toys out one at a time, quiet time and exercise before my children rise, date night every week with my husband, eating a peaceful dinner as a family, being a meal-planner extraordinaire, being a gentler mom, etc, etc, etc. (See, I’m an idealist.) Some expectations can’t be qualified as even ideal…they are lofty and unattainable ~ children never fighting, no spills in my house, clean floors, world peace just to name a few.
I have a tendency for my ideal expectations of others to expect that they not sinners or even just DIFFERENT than me. While Christ’s blood washes us clean and makes us righteous, we are only human, and we still reside in a broken world. AND we are also all DIFFERENT. Others are definitely going to destroy our expectations simply because they are living and functioning in this same broken world differently than us. We will inevitably disappoint others, and others will disappoint us. I have learned over the years to truly meet people where they are at. This may mean that I need to ask a few questions to understand where they sit, but expecting them to be where I am is ridiculous and dishonoring. While this lesson began in my dating life, it has continued through friendship, marriage, and motherhood. Expecting everyone to be exactly where I am is in that category of unattainable expectations. Yet, it’s where I camped for many years. It was not only life-sucking but also incredibly degrading to others and unfair. Trying to get others to sit in my same perspective, life, convictions destroyed and bruised many friendships. I am grateful for many that walked through this season with me and still call me “friend” on the other side.
Realistic expectations are hard. It means that we have to set aside our ideals and look at circumstances and people for how and who they really are. This can feel just as life-sucking sometimes, but I have found that it is indeed the opposite. When we take a moment to step back and see things for how they really are and accept that, we are able to give freedom to circumstances and to others that allows life to happen and Jesus to reign. I would venture to say that our expectations of circumstances and others and our fight to meet them often represses the work of the Spirit and what Jesus would like to do. Our expectations put Him in a box that He was never intended to fit in. When I choose to be in the moment and expect only what they moment is offering, Jesus will indeed meet with me in that moment.
Choosing to be in the real moment is an invitation for the Lord. JESUS becomes the realistic expectation, and He then guides your heart. Grace (Jesus Himself) can then be given to others and to the circumstance.
In The Liturgy of the Ordinary Tish Warren quotes Dallas Dillard when he profoundly writes in The Divine Conspiracy, “God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.”
Jesus can touch me and move through me and bless me when I can be in the moment of picking tiny, disgusting bugs out of my daughter’s hair instead of still hustling to make my ideal pool day happen. The thing with ideal expectations is we end up hustling to attain them and all the while missing what is REALLY happening. Often we don’t only miss the real, we rally against it. Realistic expectations are only hard because you have to be okay with the real world, the real moment, the real person. You have to have the faith to believe that His intention was always to meet you in the real not in the ideal.