Archive for July, 2008

Well, What Did You Expect?

I went to a fast food restaurant this evening with my three kids. It had been a very long day, I had a headache, and I was starving. We waited quite a while before anyone even approached the counter to take our order. Of the two employees in the restaurant, only one of them was working. The other lolligagged around and didn’t offer to pick up the slack. We finally got our drink cups and realized we’d only received three cups. As I checked the receipt, I’d realized that they had missed one of the drinks. I was trying to remain patient, so I pulled some more cash out of my purse to purchase the missed drink. Unfortunately, no one was willing to come up and take the order for that either.

When our food was finally handed over to us on the tray, I realized that my entire dinner was missing in addition to the missing drink. The employee who didn’t seem the least bit interested in working offered to make it right and ring up the missing items for me. By this time, I was so frustrated that I no longer wanted any of the missing items. My son took my drink, and I chose to eat nothing. My reasoning for that was based on “the principle” of the whole scenario. Okay, okay, so I am just a little stubborn. But, only a little (cough, cough, shhhh!).

Now that I sit with my tummy rumbling from lack of food today, and the headache I had earlier still pounding from not eating, I have a different perspective. Today I learned a valuable lesson on expectations. Before I even entered the restaurant, I had a self-defined set of expectations. I had needs that I wanted filled, and I had my own version of how this would take place. BUT, (and here’s what I learned today), since I had preset my expectations to meet what I felt was important and didn’t get them exactly that way, I refused to accept anything less than what I wanted. I wanted it how I wanted it, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it. Since it didn’t meet the criteria I wanted, I refused it altogether.

So, here’s where I applied this little lesson. I knew it meant something, but I didn’t know what. I have had other expectations in my life, in which many of my needs and wants have been neglected. Some of these life areas have not happened the way I determined they would. And, I can be honest and say that I’ve had some expectations lately that I felt were important to me that have seemed to have gone by the wayside. What is important to me is not necessarily important to another. But, does that mean that I should turn and walk away from it? Should I refuse it altogether? Is it more of a process of give and take to make sure that everyone involved has some of their expectations met to keep them happy? And, if I love someone, shouldn’t it be more important to me that their expectations are met than my own by giving more than receiving? Tonight’s dinner mishap has certainly got me asking some in-depth questions that I plan on answering for myself.

The most important part of this whole scenario occurred when I asked myself what my expectations are when I expect something of God. What if I had asked God for something in my prayers? What would I be expecting? And, would my expectations be worldly and me focused?

I’m sure they would be the more I think about this. It is so natural for us to build our own outcomes and base our personal expectations on them. But, I believe we could easily change our “me” focused expectations by asking what God’s expectations are of us, and to seek His guidance. I am sure we wouldn’t be quite as stubborn, and we wouldn’t refuse what He provides us with even when they are not quite what we expected to receive. Even in times when we don’t get exactly what we desire, need, or request from someone, there may be a life lesson in that. And, that could be exactly what He expected us to learn.

When have you had a pre-defined set of expectations? Was there disappointment or did it turn out better than you expected? Now that this has you thinking, what do you think of your general expectations regarding your life, your relationships, and your spirituality?

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If It Ain’t Broke

We’ve all heard this saying time and time again. If it ain’t broke; don’t fix it. Why would you fix something that’s not broken? Why would you want to make improvements through changing what could become better? It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s a statistic that could be improved, a sales quota improvement, or a personal issue that we are inclined to improve.

Sometimes we don’t want to change, because we don’t see the problem. Other times we know the problem is there, but we choose to ignore it. Most times we don’t like to admit we could actually change and benefit from changing processes, procedures, and simply the way we do things, because admitting change may be what’s in order to correct and improve something. This means we have to first admit that their might be a problem.

A problem automatically sends us into a frenzy to find fault in something or someone. We are avoiding accountability at times when we do this.Are we becoming a non-accountable society? As Christians, are we avoiding change, because it means admitting that we are actually relying on ourselves instead of the word of God to get through life?

Instead of going straight to the source and relying on His perfect power, we scurry around trying to find something to “fix” our problems. But of course while we are doing this, we are so busy trying to find an “out” and peg the blame for our sins on something other than ourselves. When we spend so much of our time trying to fix what we think ain’t really broke, we miss the opportunity to seek our Heavenly Father and learn correctness.

When we are relying on ourselves to make proper changes, we are essentially relying on an a faulted product to do the job. How much sense does that make? When something of value is broken, we should seek out the perfect repair.

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The Five Speed Life

There’s nothing like driving and being in control. For me, there’s nothing better than driving my five-speed PT Cruiser. In fact, the reason I went out of the way to purchase this particular car was primarily because it is a five-speed. I am a five-speed person. I like to have control over when the car shifts. I like to have the freedom to accelerate quickly, downshift through corners, and drive it like I’m in the Indy 500 (up to the speed limit, of course!) It’s fun, it gives me a sense of control, and I definitely like to control how I get to my destinations.

I live in a small town where the speed limit downtown is 20 mph tops. The rest of town it averages 35 mph. To have all of these great controls at my disposal and not be able to use them is frustrating. I find myself getting antsy when I’m limited by a speed limit or traffic from an occasional tractor or horse and buggy. And yes, they really do exist here. I want to get to where I want to go, I want to get there how I feel like getting there (fast and furiously), and I want to enjoy the ride with windows down, music cranked, and seat dancing. Just use your imagination on seat dancing…it’s a lot of bee-bopping while sitting! Trust me on this one!

Stopping for the unexpected train, taking a detour, or making a pit stop is just not in my plans! About the only time I will deviate from my five-speed mission of the moment is when my favorite song is on. It’s just not right to get out of the car when a favorite song is on! I’ll suddenly find time to sit in the car until it finishes playing. As I drove my car around town today and thought about why I enjoy a five-speed transmission, I realized one thing. I’m a control freak!

I’ve thought about control quite a bit since. So many times I want to live my life the same way. I want to be in complete control. I want to rely upon myself to reach my goals. I want to enjoy the ride. I want to do, see, and make my life what I want it to be. And, I don’t want any detours along the way. That is just so me! And then I found myself thinking about how scary it is for me to be the one actually controlling my life. I am a faulted human. I am limited in my abilities. I am limited in my strength, knowledge, and I don’t have all the answers. Why on earth then would I want to rely upon myself to control my life? Suddenly, it became scary!

I realized that the moments I am in a five-speed mode, I am not allowing God to be in control. If I am not allowing Him to have control by submitting myself to His will, His purpose, and His plan, then I am not trusting Him to guide me, shape me, and mold me into what He has intended. After all, He created me. God knows the plans He has for my life, and if I place my trust in Him, I will arrive at the proper destinations at the right times.

So, am I trading in my five-speed? No way! I’m keeping the car. Each day I drive it, I am reminded to submit myself to His purpose and maintain confidence in His perfect plans.
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

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Independence Day

The fourth of July is one of my favorite summer time holidays. It’s all about gathering family and friends, eating bbq, and watching fireworks. This year was no exception. We gathered at my Aunt’s house to visit, eat, shoot fireworks, and watch the community fireworks display after sunset. As I watched the fireworks display, I thought about the festivities surrounding this specific holiday.

The fourth of July is America’s Independence Day. All of the festivities, parades, and community events revolve around celebrating our freedom and independence. As Americans we have the freedom the live, work, and play according to our own beliefs. We have the freedom of choice. We can dress in as little or as much as we want. We can choose our own media and listen to music, watch television, and attend functions we find enjoyable. We have freedom of religion and can choose to live our lives as Christians. And, yet as a nation of people with all of these freedoms available to us, we still don’t take advantage of breaking free to live independently of the world.

Titus 2:11-1411
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

As the fourth of July came to a close, I pondered the phrase Independence Day. Even though the clock was near midnight and the holiday was nearly over, I knew I had discovered a new meaning in my heart. As a Christian, I must consider each day an independence day. Each day I must say “No” to the worldly ideas, idealisms, and temptations that can lead me away from breaking free to live for Christ. Each day is a day that I can exercise my freedom to live for Christ and declare my independence by doing so. Each day I will fight a battle to keep my focus on Christ. Each day I will dependend on Him.

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