Sunday, July 17, 2011

Expectancy and Friendship

"Let's use the example of friendship and how removing the element of life from a noun can drastically alter a relationship.  Mack, if you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship.  When we see each other or are apart, there is expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking.  That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else.  But what happens if I change that 'expectancy' to an 'expectation' - spoken or unspoken?  Suddenly, law has entered into our relationship.  You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations.  Our living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead thing with rules and requirements.  It is no longer about you and me, but about what friends are supposed to do, or the responsibilities of a good friend."
~The Shack

Just some words for thought. Had an amazing conversation with a friend today about this topic, and I think I've realized that all too often I start piling expectations on the things in my life (and people... and myself for that matter).Figured I can't be the only one guilty of this!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's a crazy life Charlie Brown

I had a tough conversation with a friend yesterday.

A conversation that was a long time in coming, but that I had avoided for quite a while because I was scared of the outcome.

After all was said and done (and I was pleasantly surprised by how well things had gone) I went to bed last night and still had a bit of a nagging feeling. I was surprisingly content with where we had landed, and I knew it was all for the best, but I got very caught up in worrying about the future. Trying to figure out how I was going to handle a multitude of events I would now have to face, worrying about whether or not we could actually stick to the plan.

Then I opened up my phone and randomly accessed the devotion app I installed. I stopped reading it daily a while ago because most of the 'devotions' were mindless and simple, without any real spiritual content, but for some reason I felt the need to look at it last night. Right off the bat the scripture jumped out at me

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Right away I felt a sense of peace that whatever was in this message was directly meant for me. I read on:

"Do you know why many people worry? Worry is a substitute for faith. Worry does for some people what faith does for others.  Have you heard anybody say 'Don't tell me it doesn't help to worry. Most of the things I worry about never happen!' They really mean it. Some people are genuinely concerned that if they fail to worry, that which they fear will happen.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Linus was talking to Charlie Brown and observed ' I guess its wrong to always be worrying about tomorrow. Maybe we should think only about today.' Charlie Brown replied ' No, that's giving up. I'm still hoping that yesterday will get better' "

If I were completely honest, I would admit that more often than not I'm like Charlie Brown. I have this persistent desire to cling to the past, to hold on to yesterday.

Maybe that's because, for better or for worse, the past is known. If I look to my future I don't know what it holds. It could hold a great and wonderful job opportunity, or it could hold endless years of unemployment and scraping/struggling to make ends meet. It could hold the love of my life/a large family/fulfillment or persistent singlehood and heartbreak. The future may very well hold hurt and loss of friends, loved ones, pets, possessions and self-esteem.

But in the past- I can remember the great placements and fulfilling jobs I once held. I can remember what it felt like to be loved and appreciated by a man I respected, I can remember good times with friends and families.

At least that's the way I suppose I rationalize it in my mind.

I don't think we're supposed to forget our past. The events, experiences, people, relationships, they help define who we are today. We learn from our mistakes, and revel in the good times. The problem is when the grip on those past times becomes so tight, and our vision so shortsided that we never shift our gaze from the rearview mirror and navigate the traffic in front of us.

I will say this about God, he has a way of surprising me. The people he brings back into my life (and the ways in which he does it) are often in manners I could never have expected. I have a hard time really shutting and locking doors to the past because I truly believe that we never know who is going to be important to us in the future. But the trick is that I can't be the one planning things, HE has to be.

I get worried when I start thinking about the obstacles I now know the future will hold for me, particularly after my conversation last night. I start thinking about scenario a and b and think to myself "I can't handle that, there is no way I'm going to get through that", but I think the answer Im getting from God is to wait.

I'm right. If I were faced with those problems right now, I absolutely would not be able to handle them. There is no way.

But I'm not being asked to deal with it. It's not even in the foreseeable future. God is not going to give me more than I can handle, and instead of jumping ahead and worrying about how I will  handle tomorrow's problems, I'm actively choosing to forget about them. It's not denial, it's acceptance. As the devotion said- half the things we worry about never happen.

I choose sanity.

And I choose to be thankful for the things I do have instead of wishing time away on the things I don't.

I choose to be thankful for the doors God has shut and the things he protects me from.

And more than anything I choose faith over worry. I choose to believe that God has a plan, and while it may not be obvious from my current vantage point, he's already shown me that he'll be with me along the way.