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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Did You Expect?

"Expectations are resentments under construction."  ~Anne Lamott

"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."  ~Alice Walker

"Expect the best. Prepare for the worst."  ~Countless People

"The worst thing is never the last thing."  ~Rick Wilson

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” 
Julian of Norwich

It's true - expectation is the great heart breaker.  What is it inside most of us that produces expectation?  How is expectation different from hope?  

My life experiences have pretty much taught that all of the above quotes are spot on and that expectation seems to be a built in part of the human experience. 

Anne Lamott reminds us that, more often than not, expectations are rarely, if ever, fully realized.  There is always something different between the way we expect things to happen and how events actually unfold.  

Alice Walker invites us to remember that we come into this world with nothing but our innate selves and we leave pretty much the same way. 

Too many people to mention, from Zig Ziglar to Mohammad Ali, to Maya Angelou, tell us that whatever our plan, be prepared for roadblocks and failure. John Lennon put it this way, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  

And finally, my friend Rick Wilson, religion professor at Mercer University, gives us the "Good News" - the worst thing that can happen to us, even death, is actually a threshold onto the next thing.

Upon observation of my own myriad expectations in life, I see that they usually involve other people, or circumstances involving other people.  In short, they usually are centered on people and things over which I really have no control. Even the expectations I have of myself come, more often than not, from an outside source, yet I manage to internalize them and pretend they are mine. 

Expectations are also temporary.  They come and go. Even if held for a lifetime, they die with us. Unless someone else has internalized ours.   

Hope, on the other hand, is internal and eternal.  Hope wells deep inside us and somehow assures, if ever so fleeting, and as Dame Julian reminds us, all is well and will be well with this whole grand experience we call life. Hope does not necessarily replace expectations but rather tempers them and reminds us to hold them lightly and gently, respecting that others always have their own expectations. Hope allows others to be who they are while preserving our own sense of self and dignity. It also tempers resentment, disappointment, and failure which are natural outcomes of unrealized expectations.   

Since hope holds all things, it is eternal. Hope reminds us that beyond our expectations, resentments and disappointments, on the other side of failure there is always new possibility.

Maybe this is what Jesus teaches us when he says, " not worry about your not worry about tomorrow (hold your expectations lightly), for tomorrow will bring worries of its own (tomorrow has its own disappointments, resentments, and failure) is enough for today." (rest in hope that all is well and will be well).


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