Expectations

Up in the middle of the night, we each stumbled around gathering what we needed for the journey and the long day ahead. Driving through the dark, we reached the airport, shrouded in fog, with time to spare. Ticket in hand and bag checked, we waited with him going over details: arrival time? passport? phone? wallet? money? extra money? phone numbers?  Well prepared, he answered affirmative to all the questions. Then, we stood in a tiny circle–father, mother, brother, sister– held hands and prayed. And the tears came. As we asked God’s protection and provision for our son, we wept. For the joy that he is and the blessings he brings, we wept. For God’s faithfulness to our family and to him, especially these last few months, we wept. Hugs and more tears followed as we said goodbye. We watched him wind his way through the security line and when we couldn’t see our boy anymore, we left. Still too early to go to our other son’s XC race, we went downtown for breakfast and tried to eat and talk away the empty feeling when you say goodbye to someone you love for an extended period of time. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, I thought for the millionth time. The over-priced breakfast and black coffee distracted us until we three started the next leg of our journey. As we drove north down the interstate, we saw a plane overhead–his plane. I watched longingly and prayed, feeling like a piece of my heart was up there on that silver tube in the sky.

We expected him to leave.

We expected to miss him.

I expected tears.

He expected, even amid the jitters, an uneventful trip.

We expected to see him again soon.

What we did not expect, was to see him so soon.

Almost out of the city limits, B’s phone rang. Our daughter joked “That’s J! He probably missed the flight.” Laughing, my husband answered the phone. His demeanor changed instantly. “You’re kidding….No….We’ll be there in 15 minutes.” Turning the car around, we headed back to the airport, traveling the same route for the second time in 3 hours. I didn’t know what to expect when we saw him. Would he be angry? Sad? Freaked out?  The picture of calm, he stood, by the curb, carry-on and backpack at his sides. We greeted, got him settled back into the car, then listened to his story of being turned away at the gate because of visa issues. We heard how the airline employees were helpful and kind-even waiving the change of ticket fee. We drove north…again…to our sons XC meet, happy to be with our boy for a few more days, but feeling uneasy.We expected J to leave and emotionally invested in saying goodbye and when he didn’t leave, we felt emotionally spent.

That’s the thing about expectations, isn’t it? Without realizing it, we emotionally invest in them. We turn the expectation into a future reality and build our present life around it. Then, when the expected doesn’t become reality we’re not sure what to do. Even when we expected bad and received good, we can find it difficult to accept because we hadn’t conceived of it or planned for it.

I don’t know, maybe you’re not like that. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like unmet, unfulfilled and unrealized expectations are a giant joy-killer in my life. But how do we hold onto hope without an expectation? I guess for me it comes down to what or who I’m hoping in or expecting anything from. When I expect things from my husband or my kids or friends or work or family, I’m inevitably disappointed at some point because we’re all human and we all let each other down. We can’t possibly live up to other’s expectations. But when I purposefully only expect my daily *needs* to be met by God–who I believe to be my Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Life-giver– then, in humility, I can let people be people and God be God. I’m much less prone to disappointment and disillusionment if I’m not looking to others (or myself) to meet all my needs and expectations. I’m continuing to learn that my future hope doesn’t lie in human expectations, but in Divine provisions.

I try, like the poet-king, David, said  in Psalm 62 to Find rest, my soul, in God alone; My only hope and salvation.

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