“Ten more minutes and then it’s time to go home.”
“When I say, ‘It’s time,’ what will you say?”
(shouted in a happy voice) “Yes, ma’am!”
I’ve learned the hard way that if my eldest girl is expecting to stay at the park and I suddenly pronounce now to be the time to go home, meltdowns and tantrums ensue.
If, however, I give her warning and help her to rehearse what is coming, peace and joy are retained. Mostly.
Expectations. Just as they color the relationship between my eldest and me, they determine the state of my relationship with God.
As I wrestle with this cancer that is threatening to overtake my sister, my brother’s wife, this 26-year-old mommy of a 15-month old, I am forced to look hard at what I expect from God. I expect to grow old with my love. I expect to watch my children grow up. I expect to meet my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren. I expect that my parents will dance at their grandchildren’s weddings. I expect good health and wealth enough to live.
This is what I dare to say I think I deserve.
When I, or those I love, don’t get what I expect, I am left with anger and resentment.
In One Thousand Gifts, I read: “Expectations kill relationships—especially with God. … Is it only when our lives are emptied that we’re surprised by how truly full our lives were? Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing—and are filled. This breath! This oak tree! This daisy! This work! This sky! These people! This place! This day! Surprise! … Are there times that a sense of entitlement—expectations—is what inflates self, detonates anger, offends God, extinguishes joy? And what do I really deserve? Thankfully, God never gives what is deserved, but instead, God graciously, passionately offers gifts, our bodies, our time, our very lives.”
The idea leaves me whirling. Can I truly live like that? Can I be grateful for every moment that I have with my family, knowing that each moment is a gift, something that I don’t deserve? Can I live grateful for every small gift that God gives?
Can I live without expecting God to give the gifts I think He should give?
I ponder this thought throughout my next days. Then I see it. I see it in a passage that I have read so many times that I now tend to skim.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:3-6)
Yes, I know. Suffering produces hope.
A niggling in the back of my brain stirs up the idea of a meaning behind hope. I go to my Strong’s. The word translated “hope” is from elpis (elpizo or elpo): to expect, to anticipate (usually with pleasure), expectation or confidence.
Suffering produces confidence, expectation, because of God pouring out His love, because of Christ dying for a sinner. For me. My heart longs for more and so I search.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (I John 3:1-3)
This hope. The same word. Elpis. Expectation.
Expectation of lavish love, of being made children of God. Expectation of knowing, seeing and being made like God. Expectation.
This. This is what I should expect from God.
I weep, ashamed that I demand such small things from God, ashamed that I expect such fleeting gifts when He is promising such riches, such beauty.
Living without expectations. … I will try. I will try to be surprised by every gift that God decides to give, knowing that He has already given me the most beautiful and exciting gift of all. His love.
Elizabeth Giger is a wife, mother of two, stay-at-home mom, musician and writer. She has written as a guest for (in)courage and writes weekly at MadeSacred.blogspot.com.