I once read that sadness is “the result of attachment.” False attachments that is, ones of this world. They can be taken away at any time. I am becoming more and more aware of what I so easily become attached to. One of these things that has been revealed to me is how I become attached to my own version of what I want my life to look like. I am a daydreamer. I can go about my day very in my head and creating my own life movie. I can come up with how I hope things turn out, in an extravagant and magical way, and every detail along the way. Of course this movie like version of mine has no pain or disappointment or discomfort in any way.
I currently live in New York City… you know the “city of dreams.” Therefore dreams are constantly talked about. Before moving here, my dream was just simply to get here. So now I find myself feeling the pressure of figuring out what my dream is now that I’m here. “What’s the dream?” I’m asked on a regular basis. So I go back to creating it all in my head. Well ya know, I’ll keep living this fast paced and exhilarating twenty-something-year-old New Yorker life and then right when I’m tired of it and ready for something a little more slow paced, the boy of my dreams will show up and we will live happily ever after. Maybe I’ll write a book somewhere in that time and casually travel the world some too. Of course I have every detail thought up as well, but that’s the general outline.
The thing that daydreaming does, or coming up with our own version of what we want our lives to look like, is that it subtly creates expectations. Expectations. Have you ever looked up quotes about this? We were talking about expectations at at a gathering I was recently at and someone googled some quotes. And let me tell you, they’re rather depressing.“Set your expectations low,” the world tells us. Then we can’t be disappointed. We are so use to not having our expectations met. And we walk around wondering why.
Personally I have built up my expectations very high numerous times. Whether it be getting my dream job at the exact time I want it, or the boy I care infinitely about feeling the same in return, or even just holidays or big events going exactly how I anticipate. The list can go on forever.
There is a movie I have seen quite a few times called 500 Days of Summer. I enjoy it a lot and I think I like it so much because of how realistic it is. It’s about a boy Tom who is a hopeless romantic and finds himself so in love with this girl Summer. Summer “doesn’t believe in love or commitment or relationships.” The climax of the movie is when Tom gets invited to a party by Summer way after they had stopped spending time together. Tom quickly plays out the expectations in his head and how he wants the evening to go. He wants this night to be the night he makes his dream a reality. When the night of the party comes, and the time for Tom and Summer to reunite, the screen splits in half with “Expectations” on one side and “Reality” on the other. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you can likely imagine what happens here. I won’t spoil it, but my point is that we often have our expectations on one side of the screen, while reality is happening on the other. And when the expectations don’t play out, we are left heartbroken, and trying to figure out how to piece our reality back together.
Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t how everything in life is. Sometimes our expectations are met. Sometimes it really is great. But the great outcomes still leave us wanting more. I think the whole idea of expectations stem from us wanting control. I so easily believe that I know what’s best for my life and what the best outcome will be. That’s rather humorous as I know not even a sliver compared to the God of the universe who is completely all knowing. I don’t know about you, but when I think of many of the expectations I’ve had throughout my life so far, most of them come with pain as they’ve been shattered or unfulfilled. But here’s the thing… there is one expectation we can hold on to with certainty.
It’s the middle of December and this season known as advent has been wrecking me this year. The Lord has completely captured my attention and called me to being still and learning what this time is all about. Advent means “coming.” And in the advent season, we have the opportunity to re-enact and remember the thousands of years that God’s people were anticipating and longing and expecting for something great. And this expectation isn’t like the other expectations, the ones we know way too well. This one though won’t end in the disappointment or the crushed dreams or heartbreak. Jesus came and He fulfilled, and the expectation that we get to hold on to today is that He will come again. It’s hard to image as we are so use to unmet expectations in our daily lives. But wow what hope this is! What good news this is. And as I’ve been being reminded these days is that it’s God’s movie. And I’m only a character in it. He’s writing it and the thing is… it will be way better than I could ever imagine. It’s the movie with the happy ending. And more than that, it’s the everlasting one. So I’m learning to let go of my own dreams and desires and expectations, and simply wait for the Lord to tell me what His are for me. It’s a process for sure, but so very worth it.
words by Megan Sauers and photo by Leah Van Otterloo