I expect to get the dishes done. I expect to organize a closet. I expect to write a letter to a friend.
I have been learning that my expectations cannot override reality.
I am a mom; my day is full of unexpecteds. I don’t expect that my kids will be grumpy or get sick or need extra mommy attention. (Though, I’m not sure why I don’t expect these things to happen, I just seem to forget from one day to the next). When this happens, my kids take precedence, my to-do list gets tossed out the window, and I feel stressed out.
My tendency in these moments is to blame my stress on my kids. After all, they are the ones being needy. But is my stress really their fault? They are kids. They need help. That’s a part of their identity at this stage of life.
I have noticed that my stress level on a certain day is directly tied to the height of my expectations for that day.
I’m not saying that goals are bad. Without them, my days would lose much-needed direction. The real issue is my emotional connection to those goals.
I read a proverb recently about expectation.
The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked will remain unfulfilled. – Proverbs 10:28 (NET)
This proverb helped me think about the difference between expectation and hope.
In Hebrew, the word for “expectation” used here literally means “cord.” An expectation is something we’re tied to or grasp onto. An expectation is a future we think we can control.
Hope is different. Hope is putting a future we can’t control into the hands of the One who can.
Notice too that hope in this Proverb doesn’t just bring a future joy- it is joy. Because when we put our hope in the Lord, our hands are open. We no longer have to grasp for control of our situation or our future. We can enjoy each day for what it is- whether it is a day filled with achievement or a day filled with unexpecteds. We can receive each day as a gift from the One who loves us.