Not all years in Blithe Bachelorette-ville have themes, but 2014 has had a big one. It’s been a year of letting go of expectations.
- This summer, moving from one apartment to another was a HUGE exercise in letting go of expectations. While I didn’t expect everything to go seamlessly, I did expect to be actually in town the weekend we were moving (which didn’t happen), and I didn’t expect to have to tell my roommate “I’m sorry” for being selfish several times (which did happen).
- At work, I expected to be much farther along by this point; but I still find myself working on some of the same projects I was working on 12 months ago.
- Even with this blog, I expected certain people to guest blog for me, or expected them to be able to blog on a certain day, only to have them say “no” or want a more flexible schedule.
And, of course, I’ve had to let go of a whole list of expectations about finding my future man. In the last year or longer, I’ve let go of:
- My list of what I want in a husband.
- My list of who it might be.
- What my romance will look like (more on that later).
- My timeline of when I will start dating, get engaged, etc. (Still kind of struggling with that one, actually, but I do try.)
- My dream of living on my own in my own apartment with all of my stuff nicely unpacked; I’ve realized I will always have roommates until I get married – and even then, some of my stuff will probably stay in boxes.
I kind of shocked myself this year by actually, like, going on dates and stuff. My brother downloaded Tinder onto my phone when he was visiting in July (“Hey Charity, give me your phone. I want to show you this app, but I don’t want it on my phone.”), and I went on a few dates from that.
Then, because Tinder is a little stupid, I reactivated my OKCupid account and got a few dates off of that.
Even just thinking about that makes me want to pick my jaw up off the floor. Charity? Dating! Whhaaaaaa—?!
I’ve never had to remind myself so many times that Jesus is the only guarantee in my future. He’s more assured than a text from someone I like, than the possibility of a good first date, than marriage at the end of this process, happiness in a relationship, fulfillment in having children, a wedding, or a mortgage on the perfect house.
Going on a few dates showed me just how many expectations I had for what a romance with my future husband would look like. Partly because of the culture in which I was raised, and partly because of my own hopes and dreams, I realized that I expected:
- To find a man who also had never dated, but still somehow managed to be solidly normal.
- My man to be fully-formed spiritually and solid doctrinally, and ready to step into my life and assume his place as the spiritual leader of our future family.
- Him to walk into church one day, meet my eyes from across the room, and know that we were meant for each other. (Perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but that was the general idea.)
- To meet someone, maybe hang out a couple of times. Then he’d talk to my parents, and we would decide to “court” (but rebelliously call it “dating”) because we’d already know that we were headed toward marriage.
- To have a boyfriend by the time I ran out of blog post ideas.
Then on date 5, I met someone who was worth deleting my online dating accounts for. He has dated before, he still has growing to do as a spiritual leader, he only walked into my church because I invited him, I absolutely don’t know if we’re headed toward marriage, he hasn’t met my parents, and I’m about to run out of blog posts in a few weeks.
Dating is weird. But, to be fair, some of my expectations were kinda weird, too.
Of course, my natural tendency is to plan every step and thing and back-up plan that can be planned. I want it planned RIGHT NOW, so I’ll know what I’m supposed to do next and what he’s supposed to do next. I want God to show me the future so I can be prepared. I constantly have to fight to keep out expectations.
My friend said this week: there’s a difference between expectation and excitement. She pointed out that expectations lead only to feelings of entitlement, despair, and disappointment, because it shows that I’m putting my hope in something besides Jesus. But it’s totally okay to be excited: excited for what God’s doing in my life, and in this gentleman’s life; excited that God gives good gifts; excited that my hope isn’t in something temporary; excited that what God has done is enough.
Which, I guess, leads to the question: what has God done that is “enough”?
The answer: He sent His Son Jesus – and because of that, I can have certain expectations that will never make me feel entitled, never cause me to despair, and never disappoint me:
- I can expect to be seen as God sees Jesus (Hebrews 8:12).
- I can expect the Holy Spirit to be with me always (Joshua 1:9).
- I can expect to be in heaven with God someday (John 14:2-3).
Basically, it’s safe to expect whatever God promises through Jesus.
All the rest – whether it’s a work task or a guest blogger, a living situation or a marital status – all that is something to be excited about, because God’s plan beats up my expectations any day.