Expectations are funny things. If your expectations of someone or something are too high, you are likely to be let down. If you set your expectations too low you may never hold anyone around you accountable to greater things.
So it’s a tightrope walk.
My tendency is to set my expectations way too high. Way. Too. High. I know better. I’ve learned the danger in this the hard way. My therapist has declared it to be the downfall of many of my relationships and goals in life. And yet I continue to toss expectations up to the rafters and hope for the best.
I especially do this with holidays. And birthdays. And special occasions. I want everything to be magical and sparkly and joyous and memorable; oh, do I ever want to make the memories! I make lists and plans and plot and organize and pile things up and stress myself to the max. Which frankly, is the exact opposite of my entire belief system. Or, at least what I claim to be my belief system. I want to be chill. I want things to be simplified. I want the soft days with the relaxed people. This truly is my heart song. But what I end up with is, most of the time, whack-a-do.
This year I was able to keep my Easter plans relaxed. Since most of the members of our life group are either paid church workers or highly committed volunteers, we all worked together to put a very easy meal on the table. Or the island. We tend to do buffet style anymore. See? Chill. One person brought a ham, one brought veggies and a roast, one brought two lamb cakes…because why just one? We are chill; not lazy. It all worked out beautifully and we drank wine and laughed and danced. The dancing came later in the day and might have mostly been me but whatever.
My expectations of this day were exactly what I knew it would be and exactly what it turned out to be – a great day with friends.
However, my girl is being confirmed this coming Sunday and my body is aching today with the expectations. I have a thousand plans in my head, I’ve already put too much on the schedule, I have shopping and cooking, and phone calls and a bounce house….scratch that. The bounce house would be too much. Look at me dialing back as I type. I even scheduled a visit with my therapist for the middle of all the fun because my expectation is that I will need someone to reel me in.
I want it all to be wonderful and magical and holy and beautiful and memorable for her and for me and for everyone involved. If I’m honest, I want people to say, “Look how effortlessly Tam can throw together a weekend of wonderful!” When in reality, it’s not thrown together at all but orchestrated to the smallest detail.
I know, I know. I need to stop and take a breath. That’s what I would tell you if you were rambling this crazy to me. I would say, “Friend, sit down and shut your eyes and feel your breath. Inhale peace from the Holy Spirit and exhale all your anxiety.” And then I’d pour you a drink. Just kidding. Sort of.
This is where the Mary and Martha of my soul go into hand to hand combat. The Mary knows that Shelby’s confirmation is about professing her faith in Jesus and all I need to do is praise God for the work he has done in her heart. The Martha says, “But where will the sandwiches come from if you don’t prepare them?!?!?!”
The Mary tells me to breathe and pray and rest, knowing that Shelby is loved by all the people, but most importantly by her Lord, and the sandwiches and tea and cakes don’t really matter. The Martha says, “But the people will be hungry and the bread needs to be fresh!!!!”
The Mary says to chillax and not worry about impending forecasts for rain. Having people together to celebrate God’s goodness will happen rain or shine. Martha is screaming, “You should plan some indoor activities just in case!!!”
Martha uses a lot of exclamation points.
I wonder about the expectations of the first Easter morning; the one before anyone knew it was Easter. When the women went to the tomb, fully expecting to dress Jesus’ body for burial, they had their expectations set for mourning. They knew the process, they had the supplies, and they all had assigned jobs. The shock of the empty tomb, if you notice in the bible, was not immediate joy. Even though they’d heard the promises and knew what Jesus had said would happen, that reality didn’t make sense to them because it’s not where their expectations lived. There was confusion, maybe a little bit of anger, and sadness.
Where is the body?!?!?!? It’s supposed to be here!!!!
I wonder if when the men came to check things out and then ran away, did the women yell, “Fine! Y’all go ahead and run home! We will stay here and solve this mystery! Because we are women and we handle all the things!!!”
Again, I feel like there were lots of exclamation points.
Meeting Jesus face to face is what it took for the ladies to settle into the truth of the moment. Hearing his voice is what turned the expectations from funeral to celebration. The plans they had made had to be changed in an instant. Did they drop the oils and herbs and dance with joy? I like to think so.
So maybe all I need is to sit down and listen for his voice. If I could put my expectations aside and simply ask him to show me how he’s moving through the weekend, I might be able to drop my anxieties, my plans of what should be, and dance in the joy of his presence.