The other day I read this post by...um (...Michelle Duggar...) this amazing woman with more than three times as many children as I have and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall week long I've been meaning to write something about it. About the idea of expectations being our enemy. Or rather, expectations being the door through which the Enemy has access to us. But it hasn't happened because, you guessed it, real life didn't coincide with my expectations. Hah!
First, let me confess that Michelle's writing style is not always easy for me to read, but the proof is in her pudding...I mean, no. That sounds weird. She and her family are happy. There. That'll do. So despite some difficulty, I pressed on and read the entire thing. And after I was finished, I wasn't really moved or convicted in a way I hoped I'd be. I might have nodded a little, but then moved on to watching a honey badger video or something.
But throughout that week, her message kept coming back to me, as almost every moment of disappointment or frustration that I "endured" was easily a result of my experience not living up to my expectations. Expectations I created out of an assumption that I DESERVE things, like comfort and ease and, the thing that the article mentions in passing that really struck me, sleep.
Really though, none of us deserves any of that. Most people in history, in fact, never experienced the level of comfort and ease that we've grown accustomed to, yet we tend to set the bar as high as we can and then complain when the reality of our daily lives doesn't measure up.
And do you know why she acted like that? Thought those things? Because she EXPECTED that her entire experience at Mass would be peaceful and calm and comfortable. That not only would no one distract her (she can distract herself just fine, thankyouverymuch) but that, in fact, is how it SHOULD be. That the Mass attending experience should be like xyz (xyz meaning: like a visit to a spa and not at all about dying to self or drawing closer to the cross. Irony alert.) and if it's not, somebody better reco'nize.
Yeah. Somebody better reco'nize, alright. SHE better reco'nize. That life is full of struggles and frustrations and inconveniences and discomfort. Those are things we can all be sure of.
So here is my new strategy for entering each day:
It would be nice to get the following things done ______________________ and I will do my best to accomplish them. Lord, help me.
But people will cry and be unreasonable and stuff will break and messes will be made.
I will probably feel tired.
Several small humans could disparage what I cook for dinner.
There will be whining.
I might wish I could nap but I won't have that luxury.
This could very well be full of challenges. They won't surprise me.
"Hello horrible fit in the middle of the kitchen," I will say, "excuse me whilst I step around you and go do something in another room."
And guess what? It's true! Every day has the potential to be fraught with all of those things. Because those things are normal in this fallen world. It's not abnormal for there to be frustrations. No. That's how this life IS. And my job, well, my job is to allow God use those bricks of suffering to pave me a clear path to Him. To willingly join my small sufferings to His Very Big Suffering.
And for every moment that I'm not struggling, I strive to be grateful.