Everyday Spirituality


Many times I have experienced in my life the incongruence between what I anticipate, my expectations, and the ultimate reality. How often the anticipation of an event was just awesome. In my head I create the whole scenario laced up with my expectations. Oops! Therein lays the kink…my expectations. Then when the reality arrives it comes as total shock. I say to myself…‘Wait! This is not how I expected things to go. Did you not see ‘My script?’ All of this just makes for an overall disappointing experience.

I find it difficult not to set up expectations for our lives. Sometimes these expectations have been unreasonable right from the beginning, but they can also be inspiring.

Maybe these imaginary expectations are a necessary part of who we are…or do they really serve any purpose. I try to stop myself from creating these expectations, but that is an exhausting undertaking. If you are a parent you can relate to what I mean about harboring expectations for your children.

Vigilance is necessary to halt these thoughts after they have already begun to build up within your head. I am anxious at just the thought of how to keep these expectant thoughts simmering in the background.

I try by telling myself that my expectations really do not matter. But come on, who am I trying to fool? Of course it matters to me or I would not even have the thoughts. You only have expectations about those things you care about.

As we are now a quarter of the way into Advent; I wonder what our Blessed Mother would say about her expectations. We know from scripture, she was filled with joy. I too have been filled with joy in anticipation of long awaited events.

For Mary becoming the mother of Our Lord must have been overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. But I wonder if she really expected the prophecy of Simeon proclaiming her heart would be ‘pierced with a sword’?

I have encountered people who seem to always look for the negative in every situation. And when the worst does not happen…are they then filled with disappoint that their expectations were not met?

Sometimes my expectations are idyllic I must admit. Honestly, sometimes I would like to escape from the reality of my life. The unmet expectations that I have no control over…picture perfect home…lots of loving grandchildren.

 Expectations can actually be like shackles around your ankles. While you are concentrating on your expectations, are you depriving yourself from the beauty of your real life?

It is not easy to set aside one’s expectations. It presents itself as an almost daily challenge.

Life is so constructed that an event; does not, cannot, and will not, match the expectation.   ~ Charlotte Bronte~

Setting expectations are much like writing goals. As a teacher it was often much easier to put down on paper my expectations for my students than to actually see them materialize. At the end of every school year I was evaluated on whether or not I ‘exceeded the expectations’ of the administration, which of course I always tried to accomplish.

A master can tell you what he expects of you.

A teacher, though awakens your own expectations. ~ Patricia Neal~

So my challenge, if you want to join me, during this Advent is to curtail my expectations and try to relish in what is in actuality my real life. Not the life which I have fabricated in my head.

It is not possible to live in the “land of expectations”; for the time inevitably comes when reality is bold faced and in all caps.

To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.  ~Mark Nepo~

Reality is the present.

The reality for Mary, that she could not escape, was waiting for her at the foot of the cross. She accepted this painful reality. The limp lifeless body of her beloved son was laid into her arms for one last time. Mary’s life is a model for me of anticipation, expectation, and reality.

I pray for the grace to quiet the expectations of my heart;

joyfully accepting what becomes reality.

Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. ~ Leo Buscaglia~

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