“My life is going exactly as planned,” a high school friend told me once when we were hanging out a few years after we’d both graduated from college. She’d married by her mid-twenties. A great guy, someone perfect for her. Her first child would be arriving shortly.
When I looked in the mirror when I got home that night, I thought I saw a green tint from envy. After all, she’d found the love of her life, had a great career, and now had in her mind a perfect fulfillment of the way her life should have been.
And me? Hah! Hardly. At that time, I was in my late twenties, in a new city, and still trying to find friends. And boyfriends? Nope. I was the one with all of the crushes. Sure, I had a good career, but the idea of marriage and kids seemed but a pipe dream.
Don’t assume nothing.
But we do. We all have expectations. From a very young age, sometimes fueled by society, sometimes by our family, we develop ideas of the way our lives should look. We’ll grow up, get a great job, be the life of the party, marry, and have children. Many times, matter of fact, most of the time, our lives don’t turn out the way we’d planned. We learn the hard way that we have no control over anything except our reactions to things that happen.
“If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” That saying is too true. So we learn to react in a different way. Some may lower their expectations. Expect the worst. That way, if the worst happens, we won’t be disappointed. Problem is, when we do that, negativism creeps in, and suddenly, even when things do go right, we find ways to say they didn’t or to complain.
Or we say we’ll have no expectations. That way, we expect neither good nor bad to happen. That can lead numbness in some ways. Neither good nor bad. Not a way to do life.
I have a better suggestion. Why not live in expectation that God will unfold His plan for you? Jeremiah says it really well. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you and hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29.11, NIV). God wants the best for His children. We need to learn to wait with patient expectation, to draw near to God and let Him unfold His will for our lives. See life as an adventure, as a journey, rather than a series of obstacles that beat us down. Then, sure, disappointments will come. We live in a fallen world where they’ll always be a part of life. But knowing that God has our best at heart, we wait in tempered expectation.
What about my life? Did life turn out the way I’d planned? Yes and no. I married the man of my dreams, a man who loves God and cherishes me and our marriage. No human kids, but two fur children. I also have a career I enjoy, friends I treasure, and a passion in writing I never expected. Some might think that’s disappointing. I don’t. It’s just as good, even if it is a little different.
And I’ll keep to my mantra as I continue living life.
Don’t assume nothing.
Question: In what way did your life turn out differently than you’d expected?