Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What We Expect.

One of my best friends always says to me "You just need to lower your expectations a little."

Now, she doesn't say this in regards to expecting politeness from my children, or in regards to how often we are doing math. She says this to me when I feel discouraged about how soon I fold my laundry once it comes out of the dryer, or when I've only fed my kids one vegetable that day. Expectations can make or break us, and the crazy thing is, what we let them do to us is actually in our control.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling the blahs. There were dirty dishes, it was laundry day (which is on the basement level), I was already behind on homeschooling, and a long to-do list awaited me, filled with things like sweeping the floor, taking out garbage, and cleaning up kids' rooms. I've been thinking so much lately about doing God's will, and being willing to do whatever He would ask, but I couldn't manage to get excited about my day. Realistically, who really is excited for all of that?

I spent a lot of time thinking hard about why I was so grumpy, about why my soul was so disgruntled. Obviously, I just didn't want to do all of these things. I didn't want to spend my day doing mundane things, and cleaning up after everyone else. I wanted what I wanted. I wanted to read a book, to have Jovi play happily while the boys excelled in their schoolwork (I can't help but giggle a little at this idea). I wanted my kitchen to be clean, for my floors to be swept, and to not find dirty socks under every piece of furniture. Honestly, I was discontent with what God had for me that day.

I tried to convince myself that my life was hard, but I failed pretty quickly. After all, I had money for food, coffee, a husband who loves me and works hard to not only provide for us, but to lighten my load as well. My kids are healthy, (we have colds, but nothing major), we have clothes, heat, TV, books, toys, and more. No, my life is not actually very hard. Maybe busy, and challenging, but I am pretty privileged by most standards. Again, I had to face my discontentment.

It really has to do with my expectations and my lack of faith. For some reason, I have an idea in my head about what I deserve. It's distressing to admit I have no idea where these expectations come from, and I'm scared of giving these same expectations to my children. I want, and want, and want, and want. I get, I take, and I purchase some more, but still I am still left in want. I expect an easy life, and I strive continuously to find it. I want to do amazing things for God, but rarely look for ways to honor Him every day at home. Yesterday, I spent far too much time thinking about how to solve my problems, rather than simply starting the work and getting it done. Yes, laziness is another flaw of mine.

I didn't want to admit that all of these tasks, chores and small jobs were God's will for me. In my head, I knew they were, but it was obvious my heart was not following along. I decided I would have none of it. I was tired of being held back by my inability to cheerfully do "meaningless" work. Was I willing to set my expectations aside for the day and see what God would do? Was I willing to work hard, possibly never seeing significant fruit from today's efforts? Could I trust God enough to wash my dishes happily?

This seems so silly now. Why wouldn't I trust God? Why wouldn't He use my happy heart? Even if that day amounted to nothing, I would still enjoy it more if I was happy than if I was discontent. I texted some friends, who replied with wonderful encouragement, mutual struggles, and powerful verses. It was just the push I needed to admit how out of whack my heart and mind can be. Did I feel a rush of happiness? No. Were my chores easily and quickly accomplished? No. But I was able to get through my day, acting in line with what I believe, and not worrying about what would come of it all. God controls what will come of my days, not me. I am called to walk in these good works, no matter what they are, trusting His goodness and His plan. It seems harder than it really is.

My expectations need to change. What I want for my life, for my kids, for my husband, everything needs to be rearranged around God's plan. And if God's plan is faithfully doing laundry, who am I to argue? My desire for a grand life is out of a fairytale, and it's full of lies. To have a perfectly fulfilling life, all you have to do is be perfectly fulfilled! Not by money, not by things, not by family, achievement, or success. All of these things are fleeting. The only perfect fulfillment is obtaining the joy from knowing our eternal position before God. We are glorified children through His work on the cross! This joy will enable us to live better than any king in history, and if you let it, it will help you fold your laundry with a smile on your face too. Sounds trite, I know, but I dare you to try it out for a month.

Expect Him to fill you up. Expect Him to give you the energy you need. Expect Him to give you wisdom in schooling, child-rearing, job changes, career endeavors, friendships and more. Nothing is impossible for Him, and He desires to fill our hearts with His gladness. Not just once in a while, but any day you are willing to be filled. It's humbling to admit we are unwilling to be happy, but it is worth the effort to remove this from our hearts. Trust His plan, choose to be glad to follow it, then go about your business. This will require you to examine your heart and determine what you are willing to surrender in order to live happily in His plan. I hope you know He can be trusted. He is more capable than we will ever be, and He knows what makes our hearts glad better than we ever will. Go for it! Trust Him with those dishes, those diapers and that schoolwork. Tell me what happens.

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