So it’s the last day of my Month of Good News 2016, and I have not fully completed the challenge. Including this post, I’ve done 22 in 31 days. Not bad by most standards. But not up to my expectations. I had wanted to post every single day during October.
Yet have you noticed – that oftentimes our expectations are unrealistic?
It’s fairly easy to see that our expectations of others cannot be fulfilled. When was the last time you asked a family member to complete a task and they did it exactly and precisely the way you wanted? The timing might have been off, or something else wasn’t up to snuff. They bought the ‘wrong’ brand of orange juice, missed a few spots while cleaning the bathroom, or didn’t arrange the towels, dishes, magazines, shirts etc. the way you would. The truth is, no single person can meet our expectations unless we decide to relinquish those expectations.
Now, consider yourself. Are you always faithful to your resolutions? Do you eat healthfully, get enough sleep, exercise, return all phone calls and emails, remember and check off each item on your to-do list, speak kindly to every person you encounter, and thank God for your life and all of its blessings (both seen and unseen) – every single day? Every 6 hours?
I am not. I fall short.
In my Bible Study group a week and a half go, I once again came to the realization that if I am to ‘treat my neighbor as myself,’ I need to think about the impact of my attitude and actions. Not only is it important to display the qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love to the neighbors – especially the 4 living in my home – but it’s also imperative that I show myself the same consideration.
And – I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty hard on myself. If I don’t meet my own expectations, I’m likely to come unglued. As my best laid plans are derailed, I become cranky, resentful, and angry. But instead of dropping my lofty, ‘perfect’ plans, I tend to unleash my emotions on the people I love most. Or I get a migraine – in which case, I’ve turned the fury on myself.
So, a week and a half ago, I asked the women in my Bible Study group to pray that I would slow down and be more fully present to both my neighbors and to myself.
Those faithful friends of mine prayed. And my eyes were opened.
It’s one thing to say we need to be “good to ourselves,” and yet it’s another to do it, largely because we are flawed and limited in our ability to help ourselves.
When I was in 6th grade, my teacher Mrs. Walker had a motto on the ceiling of her English classroom. It said, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”
Such a truism can be inspiring to a degree, but as we earnestly meet the challenges of daily life for years, we eventually realize the limitations of mantras like this one, which are premised on the idea that I alone can do whatever it is that needs to be done.
I hit a wall in the last ten days, and clearly saw that I can be a writer, but I can’t generate material that I don’t have. I simply didn’t have enough things I wanted to say, much less time to research and write them, here at the end of October. The schedule is just too full of practices, awards ceremonies, family visits, birthdays, and costume sewing (as well as meals, exercise, and homework). Yes, I could have started writing back in August and then posted everything I’d accumulated in October. But I don’t work that way.
I want to have fresh things to say, as the Lord prompts me to say them.
And whoa – right there in that statement came my moment of reckoning when I understood the real Truth.
My limitations are the exact points where God wants to step in and give me the strength, creativity, and time that I am so desperately craving.
The question is not, “What can I get done?” but instead, “What does God want to equip me to do?”
As I evaluate my tasks for the day, I need to ask,
- Does this activity have eternal value?
- Is it something God would want me to focus on?
- Will He be upset with me if my expectations are not met?
Failing to meet our own expectations is actually a blessing. It’s a correction to our human tendency to make ourselves a higher priority than God.
In my case, it was also the answer to a prayer.
He came alongside me and in His gentle way said, “I will help you write, but it won’t be on your schedule. It will happen on mine. And I will help you to be the good mom and wife you want to be. Let Me fill you. Let Me be your peace.”
God promises to be with us every step of our lives, but it’s up to us to turn to Him and say, “I trust you. Please equip me with your grace, because I am weak, but You are strong.” (Philippians 4:13)
He will give us grace. Guaranteed.
This is the very best of all Good News. May we carry it with us, and share it with those He places in our paths.
He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
-2 Corinthians 12:9