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Great Expectations

July 7, 2011

If it’s true that expectations kill relationships, then what is so ugly about expectations anyway? Maybe it’s that expectations are mostly unspoken. As the lowest bar I set for other’s behavior, I expect people to naturally know and conform to these expectations. It’s the lowest common denominator after all. I expect you not to punch me as a greeting when I see you in public. These are the treat others as you want to be treated rules, right? The problem is when we make the subtle move from expectations to preferences. I expect [really, prefer] for Ben to speak his thoughts out loud without my prompting. In my extroverted, verbal processing world, this seems like an expectation when in reality it’s a preference. No harm is done if I have to simply ask him what he’s thinking. Now, a punch in the face? That’s a different story.

So back to the problem of expectations. If expectations are the baseline, then I feel cheated when something in my life comes in under that bar. I expected clear, easy sailing through the first year of Reed’s life. I expected this as the norm. But can the easy life really be set as an expectation? From both my religious and practical worldview, the answer is no. We live in a broken world. I see death, poverty, and tragedy all around me. Would I prefer a life with few troubles and no mysteries? Who wouldn’t?

But in this reality, I can still find a way to live, love, and embrace joy.

When we feel cheated, it’s difficult to do any of the three things above. But how small we think if we’re convinced that love and joy are dependent on our circumstances alone. But then again, how difficult it is to love well when life presses in.

During this difficult season of not knowing, other people’s love has helped me love better and find true joy. Love my child, love me. Love my child unconditionally, help me love my child better. It’s really that simple. Grandparents play and talk with him like he’s the most incredible little boy they’ve ever met. Friends tote him on hip, smile with him, and play peek-a-boo with no attention to what he can’t do or hasn’t done yet. Aunts and uncles bring cousins to play alongside him with love and playfulness. And as I see others loving him so normally, I’m freed to love, live, and play normally, too.

Thank you to those who’ve come alongside and given us normalcy in the midst of mystery. I pray that whatever life is unraveling for you right now, others will come along and do for you what’s been so graciously done for us.

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