My wedding anniversary falls at the end of summer. We live in South Texas so blistering sun and sweltering heat are usually in our anniversary weather forecast. When our 30th anniversary rolled around we decided to postpone our celebration until October and pull a camper up to the mountains of Northern New Mexico during the height of the fall color and cool temperatures.
The mission of the trip was simple: 7 days of rest, relaxation and celebration of 30 years of marriage. But just like our marriage the trip was filled with opportunities to embrace gratitude and patience or to succumb to frustration and fighting. The actually journey to New Mexico was plagued by a laughable number of mishaps, but we eventually made it to our planned destination. The lush green hills were dotted with golden aspen trees showing off their brilliant fall color. It was truly awe-inspiring. Yet on the horizon loomed ominous black clouds threatening the peaceful tranquility of the mountain valley we were going to call home for a week.
We had intentionally postponed our anniversary celebration because of terrible Texas heat only to be faced with gray, cold, wet weather predicted for a full week in our mountain retreat location. My husband and I enjoy each other's company, but 7 days inside a camper might be a little too much togetherness. We seemed to sail relatively easily through the many travel mishaps to get there. I mean seriously, all we could do was laugh and press on. And I think the promise of 7 days at our beautiful destination with sunshine and mountain air was a reward that kept us moving forward. So you can imagine my disappointment when the reality we met there did not at all match my expectation. I found that my cheerful attitude was all used up and I was short-tempered and sour.
What Did You Expect?
As part of our Homemaker Portraits I always ask the guest about expectations. Without fail the guest will say that the expectations she had going into married life and homemaking did not match up with reality, sometimes for good, sometimes not so much.
Expectations are tricky things. We were created with a sense of expectation which God intended for good. Unfortunately, sin causes us to misplace our expectations. The Bible tells us to "wait expectantly" upon the Lord because He is the only One who can fulfill all of our needs, wants and desires. Psalm 37:4 says to "delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
You see, the thing about expectations is that we put them in the wrong places in hopes of happiness. We hang all our dreams on a person, job, house, vacation or life event. If those things in any way don't measure up, we are sorely disappointed and often become bitter and jaded.
Throughout my homemaking journey I have been given endless opportunities to practice the art of properly placed expectations. These exercises come in all shapes, sizes and circumstances. Just when I feel like I have conquered one area of misplaced hope, another crops up.
Homemakers, we cannot ultimately place our hope upon our husbands, children, homes, ministries, jobs, health or anything else in creation. Even the best of these things will disappoint us or can be taken from us. Houses and belongings can be swept away in a moment. Jobs can be lost overnight. Children grow up and move away. And even the most godly husband will eventually pass away. The finiteness and futility of this life are a gift from a good and loving God. Unmet expectations are a signpost pointing us to Him. He is inviting us to place all of our hope in Him alone.
Expectations take many forms, but at the root of every single one is our need to be loved, known, and secure. When we look to meet that need anywhere other than in God, we are looking in vain and we will cause a lot of damage along the way.
I was quickly headed down the path of bickering with my husband and letting my attitude cast even more dark clouds over our anniversary trip. But God graciously reminded me to let go of my plan and expectations and put my hope in the proper place. That act of obedience changed everything. It freed me up to think differently about our situation and opened a door to a creative solution that my husband and I came up with together. We simply packed up the camper and pulled it a few hours north to the mountains of Colorado where the weather was gloriously sunny and a whole different, unexpected joyful adventure awaited us!
Wherever you have misplaced your hope, I pray that God keeps teaching you this lesson about expectations. That is what sanctification is all about. God loves you so much, He is not content to leave any hidden corner of your being untouched by the cleansing blood of Christ and refining power of His Spirit. Put your hope in Him, homemaker, He is MORE than able to satisfy every longing heart.