MKs and TCKs such as myself are very good at lowering our expectations. We don’t expect to live in stability. We don’t expect friendships to last. We don’t expect to fit in or belong. We don’t expect to be home for the holidays or to see our family often. We may not even expect to have control over the transitions in our lives, instead being moved by parents, circumstances or God.
I, personally, expect very little from people and from God. I don’t expect people to care about me, I don’t expect people to accept me and I don’t expect people to know me. In God’s case, I expect the worst. I expect God to use me. I expect God to see me as a pawn in his great tapestry of life, a tapestry that is filled with the healing, salvation and love for others but a tapestry that has left me broken.
I expect God to get his way by any means possible.
In Hebrews 11:6, the author makes the point that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I wholly believe that God exists, I believe that the Bible is truth and that Jesus Christ made the sacrifice so that I could be saved from sin. I do not believe, however, that God will reward me for seeking him. In fact, I am so cynical at times, that I believe that the opposite is true. That the more I seek after God, the more it will hurt me.
How does one go from expecting the worst from God to expecting reward from God? This is the journey I am on and it is a fluctuating one. I have a fear of anticipating good; to trust in the good is to be vulnerable to disappointment, disillusionment and humiliation.
It isn’t just God I expect the worst from either. This is why I hate standing in lines and prefer to have my back up against a wall; at a physiological level I am afraid of most everyone, expecting them to become volatile at any moment.
Unpredictable is the way I see the world. It is the way I see God.
When our home was ransacked in Indonesia, I wasn’t surprised. I had already lost a home to a fire and had already experienced robbery both to my home as well as to my person. I expected to be hurt and this expectation comes from a place of pain, humiliation and fear. It is self-preservative and while self-preservation has its place in times where running and hiding is necessary, it cuts me off from hope in times of peace and normal life. At its darkest, it keeps me from running when I should, accepting too quickly the abuse of others.
I have a longing to trust. I have a longing to throw off the burden of fear. I have a longing to be confident in the goodness of God and the reward he promises but it’s a wishy washy trust at best. The inevitable worst is always looming over me whispering dread in my ear.
The tattoo on my forearm, one of many, states, “Hold fast hope.” It is a reminder to me that hope can be easily lost and that the act of clinging to it is an act of force that requires grit. I imagine it is like clinging to driftwood in the face of a tsunami. There is violence in both the storm and in the grip. It’s a desperate and active grip on hope and this tattoo is forever my reminder. It won’t be stolen from me, it can’t burn down with my house or get lost on an airplane during travel. Every day I look at it and I find a hold onto my hope again.
Hope that God is good.
Hope that God sees me.
Hope that God loves me.
Hope that God is bigger than my fear of him.
Maybe there is value in being flexible and having low expectations of governments and their bureaucracy or an airplane’s ability to be on-time but there is no value in having low expectations of God. None.
I have to believe that God is for me and not against me. I have to believe that he allows suffering in my life and protects me from suffering also. I have to believe that underneath it all, God is doing a thing that I cannot see.
I expect the worst of God but I hope for the best and maybe one day I will find, miracle of miracles, that I expect the best of God and I can hope for the extraordinary.
What do you expect of God? How does he meet those expectations and how doesn’t he?