I have to wonder sometimes about the way that some of us tend to behave when things just aren't going the way we think that they should. Y'all know what I'm talking about, the moments of frustration when something takes longer than we think it should, the bouts of worry and fear when finances look tighter than we think they should be, the fits of depression and anxiety that some of us moms have when the children aren't behaving the way we think they should, the tendency to throw a tool (or three) when a repair job takes twice as long as we think it should.
A friend of mine who I love and really admire in many ways has always astonished me with her ability to be calm and radiate this air of contentment all the time. This lady has shocked me so many times with her peaceful outlook and pacific way of just walking though life with her head up during hard times.... and I've seen her go through some really really hard times, things that would send most of us screaming to the brink of nervous breakdown territory. So it got to working on me and I decided that I would ask her how it is that she goes about this thing of living in a world that is spiraling ever more quickly into darkness and what she said has worked on me now for weeks so I thought I would share it here.
Chris says that she used to be an extremely stressed out "type A" person who was truly an extreme perfectionist. Every detail in her life had to be perfect, every thing that she did she felt must be done without flaw and it showed in whatever she put her hand to. Chris got married and soon enough learned that her son was on his way into this world. Like most of us ladies who are expecting Chris wanted to learn how to handle labor and delivery, what to do and not to do during her pregnancy and such, so she read book after book and began a regiment of healthy eating and exercise that was supposed to ensure the perfect pregnancy and delivery.
About the 16th week of the pregnancy Chris began to feel ill, horribly and severely ill all the time with no relief so she saw her doctor. The doctor pronounced her seriously in trouble with blood pressure high enough to jeopardize the baby's life as well as her own. Nearing the meltdown point Chris sobbed to the doctor that she didn't understand it, after all she had been doing everything perfectly! Only after praying more earnestly than she had in a very long time during those days in the hospital did she realize that her own expectations were more to blame than anything else for the threat to her baby's health.
Chris says that as she lay there day after day praying that the baby would be okay and that she would become healthy enough to be a good mom that the Lord would reveal to her more and more the pattern in her life of expecting things to go the way that she wanted and failing to even consider that truly in life we decide very little of how things go regardless of how much "stress" we put into a situation. She says that on the 10th day in the hospital she woke up that morning and in her prayer time she KNEW that she had to let go of ALL of HER expectations.
In that instant Chris says she began to really know peace and freedom that she never dared to envision in her wildest dreams. From that point on she says that the only expectation she had was that one way or another at some point her pregnancy would end and that the result would a baby. She gave up her expectations of how healthy the baby would be, or if the baby would even live. She gave up her expectations of how she would mother the child and how labor and delivery would go. She simply refused to anticipate any specific outcome other than that there would be a baby at the end of the pregnancy.
Chris went on to deliver a healthy, beautiful baby boy in a perfectly normal delivery after a perfectly normal labor after a perfectly normal remainder of her pregnancy. She says that it seemed as if the Lord allowed it all to happen simply so that she would learn this most valuable lesson before raising a child in her manufactured version of the perfect home and perfect environment with the perfect family and so on.
Well, after hearing this story it got me to thinking. How often do we all sabotage that peace that we could have so freely just by having such high and wonderful expectations of what we think should be, or not be. Could it be that having all of the expectations that we have in life simply breeds discontent, bitterness, frustration, fear, worry and stress? Maybe we just need to learn to let go of our own expectations and trade them in for totally relying on the Lord to provide the outcome.
As we go through the "labor" phase of this life maybe it's not our job to determine a list of expectations as to how things should go but simply to labor on and leave the results up to the Lord. We set ourselves up for needless stress time and again just by expecting things to turn out a certain way... what wasted energy! After all, if we are saved then the outcome is set in stone... or should I say carved in the hand of the Rock.