Preparing for Battle

Unmet expectations

Aka the thorn in my side

One of the greatest enemies in finding true joy and contentment in pretty much every area of my life has been unmet expectations. I build things up so much in my head and in my heart that I can never fully embrace the reality of what things are.

Case in point: college

I watched far too much Felicity before going off to college.  My room was going to be huge.  Scott Foley and Scott Speedman (or at least their very handsome lookalikes) would be fighting over me.  My classes would be awesome, and I would secretly chronicle my life each evening into some sort of recording device. I would suddenly be cool and dress funky. It was going to be grand.

What really happened: I pretty much hated everything about college until about my junior year. My parents still like to tell the story of me standing at the window, looking out at the parking lot with tears streaming down my face as my parents drove off after helping me unload everything at the start of my sophomore year. It was not pretty.  I eventually learned to love it and made some amazing friends and memories, but I probably would have loved it more had I not gone into it with so many expectations and just tried to embrace it for what it was instead of trying to make into what I thought it should be.

Another case in point: Marriage

I hate you country music.  You made me think that my husband was going to wake up and sing to me about how beautiful I am despite the drool dripping down the side of my face, the pillow mark across my forehead, and the morning breath that probably needs ample brushing, flossing, and mouth wash to take the stench away.   I thought we were going to be dancing in the rain and holding hands every time in the car.  Fighting was really only going to be for making up, and my husband was going to think I was the most beautiful and amazing creature EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of EVERY SINGLE DAY!

What it is really like:  If you are married, this point probably doesn’t even need a second paragraph explaining all the lies mentioned above…but since some of you may not be married and may still be listening to far too much country music with stars in your eyes, I am here to tell you, its all a big fat lie.  Marriage takes a lot of work.  There is much much beauty in it but your breath and all the rest of your junk doesn’t start smelling better just because you are married.  You may dance in the rain occasionally, and you may still hold hands in the car sometimes, but hard is still hard, and you are going to have to make lots of sacrifices along the way to finding your happily ever after.

Basically this has been my way for as long as I can remember. 

Inside my head leading up to __________ life event, “It’s going to be amazing.  We are going to do so many exciting things.  It’s just going to be life changing.  I can’t wait for all the awesomeness in store.”

Real life during _________ life event, “This is horrible.  Why is this so hard?  Can’t anything ever turn out how I want it to!? God, why did you let this happen?  It’s not supposed to be like this? WHYYYYYYY!” {Basically just imagine me being super dramatic and over the top}

You get the point.

Somehow all of 2015 has turned out to be one of the biggest let downs in my life.  I looked towards each month or each new event with expectancy and eagerness, hoping for something to change the mess that had seemed to overtake this year, and each time I was just met with more heartbreak and challenges and tears.

And that was all before July.

Then July came.  The month I had looked forward to all year. I was going to head back to my homeland and fill my life with all of my favorite summer goodies of summers past. I was going to relax and refresh and recharge and just make life better again.

And then the biggest bomb of them all dropped.

I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready.  My head and heart spun.  It felt like I was just watching some sort of bad movie and it would all be over soon.

“This can’t be happening.  This one really is just a bad dream. I am going to wake up. It’s all not going to be true.”

That is what I felt on the inside but on the outside I had to be the strong one. I had to not only have faith myself but I had to have faith for others too. I had to hold up the arms of loved ones because they couldn’t hold them up on their own. I had to speak truth over the lies.

I had to turn off the inside voice and just be there.

No time for tears.  No time for feeling sorry for myself.  No time to really even ask why and analyze. 

I had to just be in the moment. I had to embrace it for what it was…ugliness and all. 

I couldn’t wish it away. I couldn’t change it.  It was what it was.  I didn’t have to like it, and I didn’t have to understand it.  But I couldn’t run away from it. 

And then something amazing happened.

For the first time truly in my life, I couldn’t let the unmet expectations steal anything. 

When you are in a battle, you just fight.  You don’t have time to think about if your strategy is working or not working.  You don’t have time to even evaluate an alternate plan.  You can’t fret over what you didn’t do or didn’t know or couldn’t see.  You just fight.  You stay alive, and you try to keep those standing on that front line with you, alive too.

You are just in that one moment. 

And that dark, ugly battle finally set me free.

Free to just be in the moment.  Free to trust.  Free to embrace what is before me. 

Free to believe that dreams are great, but God’s reality is far better.

For so long, I lived with so many hurts and disappointments that I brought on myself because I couldn’t just be in the moment.  Everything in my life and especially in my thoughts revolved around what should have been and wasn’t or what I hoped for and didn’t get. 

It was never just about seeing the enormous grace and beauty and mercy and joy that can be had by just being wholly and fully right where God placed me.

I see now that I missed so much.  I missed out on so much because I chose to hang onto what I thought was good instead of embracing what God knew was better. 

And the most ironic part of it all was that it took a heart-wrenching, heartbreaking, devastating event for me to see that.

There are probably going to still be some unmet expectations.  I am far from perfect so I am bound to go back to my old ways a time or two. 

But for today at least I have decided in my heart to want more what God has for me…even if it hurts…than what I think I should have.  I would rather find beauty in a battle then live in some mirage that tries desperately to imitate beauty by avoiding pain. 

Because more than anything in this whole world, I want my life and the lives of those I love to be a bright and shining light in this very dark world. I want God to use me to be beacon of hope to those hurting. I want my home to be a place of refuge for the broken and outcast. 

That can’t happen by avoiding the hard or the ugly or the painful. I have to get right in there in the trenches and be willing to sacrifice and be willing to get hurt.

Expecting something different isn’t going to change the outcome. The only difference is how I am going to walk through it.   

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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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