Out of Focus Expectations

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As Christmas 2019 quickly approaches, I sit here thinking about the many Christmas’s that have flown by already. Where have the years gone? What stands out to me?

 I don’t recall any particular gift that I had wanted as a child. My memories center more around the “Christmas magic” that my parents created; the “air of expectation.”

 …I will always remember the ride home from sharing Christmas Eve with my Uncle’s family, my dad would look up into the sky and say, “Did you see that? I think I just saw Santa’s sleigh headed towards our house.” I was giddy with anticipation as we arrived home and I hurriedly put on my pajamas so that I would be ready for Santa’s arrival. My siblings and I sat “patiently” waiting for that knock at the front door. Sure enough, we would soon hear Santa’s heavy boots clomping up the porch steps, followed by a knock at the door. My parents would open the door and there he stood in all his glory, Santa Claus! It never dawned on me that we were the only house on the block that he showed up at.

After sharing our hearts desires with Santa, taking pictures and sharing hugs, my dad would walk Santa back out to his sleigh to feed the reindeer. Us kids would help put out milk and cookies for Santa and then head off to bed to await his return.

I could hardly sleep that night, waiting and wondering what the morning would bring. My mom would sometimes empty out the fireplace and line it with Christmas paper. When we awoke the next morning, the fireplace would be heaping with gifts, making it look like Santa had dumped them down the chimney. My sister and I slept upstairs. I still recall the awe I felt as we tiptoed down the stairs and opened the door into the living room.

I’m sure we didn’t receive a ton of things, after all, there were six of us. However, I don’t ever remember feeling disappointed.

As I grew older, that air of expectation faded. Until one day, I married and had children of my own. Only it was different now, I felt a sense of responsibility to make Christmas special for our girls. We didn’t have much money and Christmas seemed to put an extra burden on our finances. Our girls were so good about not asking for much, but I remember a couple of years where they had something specific that they really wanted. My husband and I set about making their dreams come true – Cabbage Patch Dolls, a Kid Sister doll and then Caboodles (a name brand box used for storing make-up and treasures).

The “Caboodle” year especially sticks in my memory! I had purchased the Caboodles and couldn’t wait to see the girls’ faces when they opened them. It wasn’t a huge gift, but it was one they both really wanted. The gifts were wrapped and under the tree, ready for Christmas morning.

It was Christmas Eve and we were going to church to celebrate. We had recently gotten a new puppy and we locked him up in his crate and headed out the door.

 When we returned home, we opened the door to be greeted by our fury friend. He had somehow escaped his kennel and by the looks of it, had been busy enjoying the fruits of our Christmas preparations! He had knocked some of the ornaments off the tree and apparently entered into a game of war with them. The ornaments lay broken on the ground, pieces of glass scattered everywhere. Several of the gifts were unwrapped and left open for all to see, among them were the coveted Caboodles. My heart sank as the girls looked on in dismay. I don’t remember what took place after that, I just recall the feelings of frustration and disappointment. Expectations crushed by some unsuspecting puppy folly. Looking back now, it seems like a silly thing, but at the time it was very real. You see, I had a set expectation of how things were supposed to play out and when they didn’t I allowed the situation to affect me.

 Expectations.

We all have them. As children, it was easier to believe and to revel in the moment of dreams fulfilled. However, as we grow older, our expectations become marred by circumstances and life experiences. In our effort to fulfill the way we think things should happen, we often forget to focus on what is really important and to rejoice in what God has for us. We look to others or to things to pull us out of our funk.

 It is so easy to go to church on Sunday and walk away disappointed because worship was only “song service,” the message was too long, and people are crabby. Our expectations go unmet and therefore, we stop expecting.

We become complacent because it is easier to have no expectations then to deal with feelings of disappointment.

Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Mark Ballenger says it well in his internet article, “Keeping Your Heart Alive.” He states, “So many think the only solution to avoiding a broken heart is to put an impenetrable wall around our desires. We think to guard our hearts means to starve our hearts of dreams. But God does not instruct us to guard our hearts of all desires; he instructs us to guard our hearts so our desires are placed in the correct place – ultimately in Him.” 1 John 5:21 (NLT) states, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” (https://applygodsword.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-unmet-expectations/)

Dare to dream this Christmas season. Come unto the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and ask Him to restore hope in your heart. God can do amazing things in us and through us when we come onto Him as little children, unreserved and expecting.

In Jesus, Jean

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