The word 'expectation' when said, has a very firm sound, definitive, persuasive, and yet its' definition is inclusive of a strong belief that something will happen, realistic or not, and failure of this expectation gives way to an emotional disappointment. I am most certain that all of us have experienced some sort of disappointment relating to an unfulfilled expectation. I have had many!
Christmas Day just recently passed. This is the first time in 6 years that I have had my entire family reunite at Christmas. In my heart, I wanted it as it used to be, with wonder, joy, love and excitement. All of these factors, especially including the past, would be difficult, but I tried extremely hard to eliminate any items that would not make this possible. The refrigerator was full of food, meals cooked, music playing, Christmas decorations galore, the list checked twice, all the packages wrapped, so what could possibly go wrong? Had I not painted this picture perfect in this picture perfect world that live and know all too well?
Each of us, at some point, have been caught up in and have been victims of, wanting the 'perfect Christmas' with expectations galore. Unfortunately, each of us have our own expectations, never letting the other know what his/or hers expectations are, so we all eventually fail, setting the stage for emotional disaster. This Christmas, as much as I tried to enjoy, wonder, love and excitement, my demeanor was actually anxious and preoccupied with a lot of 'what if's' and quite frankly, I was a nervous wreck. Why? Well, my daughter who left our family six years ago, returned. She returned with her now husband and their 2 1/2 year old son. I love her and was glad she returned, but I wanted everyone to love her and accept her and forgive her as I did. My expectations were high. Not all were as welcoming as I was and not all had forgiven her like I had as portrayed in the story of the Prodigal Son. Each of us have different understandings of the meaning of love and forgiveness. We are all on different personal journeys, emotionally and spiritually, and we all have different, deep seated expectations of each other.
Tonight, as I reflected on the spirit of Christmas and of Mary, our Mother of God, who willingly accepted what God placed before Her, with no expectations, just acceptance of the beautiful gift that she accepted for us and the world, I ask myself, why did I have so many expectations of the gift that God gave me this Christmas Day with all members of my family present? Why did I set myself up for an emotional disappointment?
I removed all of the Christmas Decorations in my house the day after Christmas this year. I emotionally wanted to move on. I did not want to look back. I typically wait until after Epiphany. This year was different. The joy was not present. I did not feel the love, the wonder and the excitement. And, normally, after Christmas I would find a comfortable chair, warm cup of coffee and gaze at the Christmas lights on the tree and reflect on the time spent with family. This year, I am reflecting, but gazing upon two pictures of clouds and sea, both of which, in a different time and place, gave me joy, awe, wonder and excitement. These pictures represent to me God's promises of eternity and they give me clarity as to why I need to be freed from earthly expectations which will move me from self fulfillment into sin fullness. You can not serve the flesh and the spirit at the same time. My only expectations should be my faith and trust in my God.
When Christ is our focus, everything else becomes clear, even with a few clouds in the sky.