I have been thinking quite a bit about expectations. We all have them.
I grew up expecting I would be the mother of many, just like my foremothers. I expected to conceive pretty much immediately when I went off the pill in August of 2003. My expectations weren't tempered with thoughts of God's plan, and the proof of that was in how I reacted when all my hopes went unrealized for seven long years.
It is completely normal to have expectations, and really, we should. Every time we remember one of God's promises we expect Him to fulfill it. We expect the sun to rise each day and for mice to scurry and for cello music to be restful. When our expectations lead us to realize God's majesty and control, they solidify our perceived standing in God's plan and our place on earth-- if our expectations are realized, we feel secure.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life."
Sometimes, though, expectations are our petty, human way of trying to determine God's plan and attempting to force Him to stick to it.
When God didn't convert my expectations regarding my fertility from thought to reality, I was convinced He was mean, mean and selfish. After all, everyone said kids are a blessing, and why wouldn't God want to bless me? If even the woman addicted to crack down the road could conceive, why couldn't I? Why was she more worthy of blessings?
I was completely off in my thinking, and my expectations were the catalyst for many years of hypocrisy, anger, hatred, and sin.
It is only healthy to have expectations if we feel and view them in the light of God's sovereignty. When we realize that He truly is in control, then our expectations will not create bonds around us if they do not come to fruition.
When I was pregnant with Ilse, I did my best to plan according to all that traditional wisdom taught me. I bought clothes that would fit and be appropriate as she was hitting certain developmental milestones, and I registered for items a healthy baby would need.
Should I have?
Well, yes. It wouldn't be reasonable to PLAN for something terrible to happen, or worse, not to prepare at all. I had no reason to expect anything out of the ordinary would happen. When it did, though, I grieved, but I was not incapacitated with grief like I was when I was infertile. My expectations were just as strong in regards to Ilse as they were in regards to fertility; however, I had learned that sometimes things don't work out, and I had determined in my heart to trust the Lord. I planned from the beginning of the trial that I would not react like I did for the seven long years of no kids. Instead, I decided that I would do well this time. This time my expectations where tempered with the realization that God, not I, makes the plan.
I can't say I truly did well. Certainly I was, and sometimes am, completely stressed out. But I can say that God sustained me, and that I never succumbed to bitterness, anger, or even annoyance at God. I know He loves me and is doing what is best for Ilse and for the rest of us.
What reason is there to be bitter? I have everything I have ever wanted. Maybe not exactly the way I wanted it, but as I have seen, if I had gotten pregnant way back in 2003 with an Ilse, I would have been completely lost as to what to do with her. Wisdom and determination grew in me during those years and now I can take care of her the way she needs to be taken are of, at least most of the time.
A big part of me though has trouble hearing others plan. It hurts a bit when people say they 'will have kids' at such and such a time, or that their kid will wear this kind of clothing at a certain point. I just want to shout...... UM..... you just can't know that!!! I don't, of course, because who wants to be around a person who is continually shouting. :) and I don't personally want to be everyone's cautionary tale.
What my heart longs to hear people say instead is, "it is likely that...." or "If God plans it, then...." Probably I am just being picky, because logically people don't generally have issues like I have had (first infertility and then an Ilse) but what if what we say really shows what is in our hearts? We know it does according to Scripture, and so I want to be especially careful to form my speech around acknowledging that God might plan differently that I do. My expectations MUST be conformed to reality and NOT my own dreams. Reality is that God is in control.
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.