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Friday, September 21, 2012

Expectations

I am realizing, 5 kids into this parenting thing, that expectations can be the bane of my existence.  They can lead to frustration, guilt, anger, aggravation and a break-down in the peace of my home.  Mostly I am talking about expectations for myself, my days, my time, my activities, my atmosphere.  Do you get it?  These all have to do with ME.  I also have expectations for my kids - some very good ones.  Like, I expect my children to obey me.  To not lie to me.  To respect me.  To not be too messy (there is a broad range here).  I expect them to be responsible.  So, sometimes I expect a lot of me and a lot of my kids.  Expectations - both good and bad, can be the ruin of my day.  And lately I've taken to saying to myself, 'You just can't ruin my day!'  A quote from someone I never met - but a good one nonetheless.  (Paul Westlund).

For example:  I expect I will have time to pick up the house, clean the kitchen, homeschool Priscilla adequately and tuck my kids in bed.  And suddenly BOOM Hannah is sick and requires full attention for days on end.  I expect the sickness to last a day or two, or three at most.  BOOM, it lasts 7 going on 8 days.  I expect I will be able to arrange school pick-ups, carpools and naptimes for everyone in a suitable manner.  BOOM - those who usually help me can't and I'm left needing to be 3 places at one time.
 Stressful,
                   anxiety-causing,
                                  frustration building,
                                                                ME.

And all to do with MY expectations.  I don't want to knock them entirely - because we should expect certain things of ourselves and others.  However, what I find is that when I rely on my expectations being fulfilled, I hit a brick wall of sheer annoyance.  My peace is disturbed.  Everyone better get out of my way.  What a way to be!  How miserable for those around me!

Better to hold my expectations lightly.  Enforce the sinful and bad (like lying and such) and gently deal with the non-moral stuff (like leaving socks on the floor or a belt off its hook).  Better to let go of some of my expectations and patiently engage in life with my youngsters.  So Hannah's thrown up for the 8th time this week, ladening me with the 4th extra load of laundry that I didn't plan on doing?  Oh well, this is all part of the journey.  So, the dryer burned holes in the sheets you had to launder because of the extra puke?  Oh well, God calls me to patient endurance.  So, your 3 year old is not comprehending the potty-training thing?  Oh well, rejoice in all things still applies.  So, I'm dead-beat tired and my 11 year old is complaining his computer time was cut short by a computer glitch?  Oh well, just roll with the punches, and tell him to do so at the same time.  Because if he sees you rolling with the punches for real, maybe he will know how it's done.

But if, like me, you don't always roll well with the punches of life, you may end up in a puddle of aggravated tears and frustration.  You will feel like you're coming unglued, falling apart at the seams, ready to scream at the next broken expectation that comes your way - even if that is something as little as the heavy-handle spoon falling out of the pot splattering spaghetti sauce everywhere.

Did Jesus only offer peace to those fishing on the peaceful shore (and of course we always imagine the peaceful, idyllic scene of serenity that those fisherman must have enjoyed every day - with perfect weather and a pleasant breeze to boot)?  Or did He offer His peace to me - a harried, sometimes stressed out, sometimes losing it, kind of Mom?

I think you know the answer to that.

"MY peace I give you - not as the world gives - don't let your heart be troubled - don't be afraid.  TRUST God - and TRUST Me."  John 14

The answer to the harried frustrations and failed expectations is to trust.  So simple.  So often repeated it almost becomes cliche.  And perhaps it is.  Maybe it's trite.  Simplistic.  Unreasonable.  But I have to believe Jesus offers His peace to me or else I think I'll end up in the loony bin (and that may be just where I will discover His peace... but that's another story).

Can I trust God is in charge when my world is falling apart?  Can I trust He'll carry me through this day of fatigue and challenges and physical impossibilities?  Can I trust Him to send helpers along when I need them?  Well, can I?

Whether I can or not, I will - because this faith trusting muscle needs a workout and God must orchestrate my life to be the treadmill to develop such faith.


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