Unfulfilled expectations are something I have struggled with before, and probably always will. Anyone else?
I don't think I really expected my life to be perfect or easy, because it didn't start out that way. I did, however, have a plan and a goal and I headed toward that with everything I had. I mean, ever since I was very young I had a picture in my head of what my "ideal" life would look like, and I orchestrated lots of details to make it happen.
But..... what happens when life doesn't look like that? Honestly, it feels like failure.
In chapter 5, Jennie explains that "It is too easy in this country for blessings to become rights, for stuff and money to become what calls the shots in our lives. And before we know it, God's gifts have replaced himself." Wow.
Why do we settle? The point is not that we have a plan and it doesn't work out. The point is that we shortchange ourselves when we pursue our plan and not his. On page 46, don't miss it......"There is another normal - it is invisible and lasts forever and it doesn't fall down. The ironic thing about believing in God and supernatural things is that the invisible stuff is actually the most trustworthy, the most stable. So the concrete things we can see and touch, they become the wind, they become the things we try to catch, and over and over, they pass through our fingers and souls, keeping us empty. But when I take my empty self to God, he feels familiar and stable and more like concrete than wind."
All those things that scream perfection to me, they don't satisfy my soul. How could they?
It is definitely a matter of focus. When I focus on what I want and what I don't have, my heart hurts and feels cheated. When I focus on how good God is, how much He loves me and wants me to love others, perspective shifts and the hurt dissipates.
Later in the chapter comes this: "But God often seems unconcerned with helping us maintain same, simple lives where everything fits and works. I don't know what God's plans are for you, but I do know that we don't hear from him until certain things die. (emphasis mine) He doesn't compete. And when He does speak, it typically costs us something."
So what had to "die" for me? My expectation of what my life should look like had to go, as well as my security. I really like security. I mean, really like it. I was finding security in my family, my church, my knowledge, my plan. Unfortunately, those things are not constant, and the continuous shifting was wrecking me.
What I learned in the process is that I don't dream big enough dreams. God's plan for me is complete and satisfying and amazing! When I stop mourning the things I didn't get, and let go of them, God shows me the better things.
I won't tell you it is easy. Letting go of what we know for something we can't define is terrifying. It is also necessary.
In the final words of the chapter, Jennie describes a friend of hers who abandoned her plan for God's better one. She describes her like this: "She still bleeds God, and her life is being poured out on the neediest and the most broken. She traded entitlement for surrender, and God took her up on it."
I pray I will look like that.