Grief and Suffering, Mental Health and Healing, Most Recent

Expectation Management

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for months, but I couldn’t find the words. Which is odd for me, considering words are kind of my thing.

But this past Mother’s Day, Pastor Shireen, a wonderful woman I respect very much, gave a sermon on expectations and worth, and I knew I finally had a frame for my story.

Property of Lifegate Church,

Shireen gave us a new perspective on the “Mary and Martha” story from Luke 10, explaining from Martha’s point of view how unmet expectations set us up for a lack of peace, joy, and even insecurities about our own worth. The power of expectation is immense and can have life-altering consequences.

In my own life, I’m in a season of unmet expectations.

I expected to be teaching right now – wrapping up the year with my graduating eighth graders.

I expected to be moving to Serbia in the fall – or at the very least be traveling there this summer.

I expected to be through the hardest part of healing from my past.

I expected to feel the grace that comes with being in the slipstream of God’s will.

I’m sure there were others who had similar expectations for me. I know my kids sure have. They are all so disappointed that we aren’t making our (now) annual trip to Serbia as a family. They’re asking questions I don’t really know how to answer. They’re watching us struggle to discern the play-by-play of God’s plan while holding on to what we know He’s spoken.

On the plane to Baltimore

I told my friend yesterday that I’m feeling “benched” by God.

He sat me down for this season and said, “stay here.” Which seems like a great idea until I see my students walking through the halls, or hear the vision our pastors have for Lifegate Worship, or watch my friends do things that I used to be able to do and love but are no longer in my grasp.

Pastor Shireen said, “In our culture, we wear busy like a badge of honor… Jesus lived a full life, but He was never busy.”

You know why I prefer to stay busy? Because it enables me to drown out the pain that still bubbles to the surface at random triggers. It takes my mind away from the facts of my past and distracts me from integrating some pretty important truths into my story.

A friend once asked me why Christians struggle so much to sit quietly and wait on God. We fill our moments with Him with devotionals and sermons and songs, but what about the lost art of being still in His presence? I didn’t come up with my answer until several days had passed, but I know now why it’s difficult for me to be still:

Because I’ve spent my entire adulthood running five steps ahead of an avalanche of reality, and I fear that if I stop it will bury me forever.

It’s not an unfounded fear. I’ve been buried before and it takes months and years to dig my way out.

Being still, for me, allows all of the unspoken words of my heart to finally be spoken. And truthfully, I don’t always like hearing what it has to say.

There is still beauty in this.

But God.

He’s begging me to sit quietly with Him and face the wounds that I’ve only bandaged up and hoped time would heal. He wants me to honor and tend to the parts of my heart that are so hurt, so heartbroken, so angry, so terrified, and so misunderstood because of the injustices I faced as a child.

Maybe in another post I’ll flesh out what that really looks like these days, instead of the metaphorical paintings I like to hang so neatly on the walls of this blog. But for now, know that it’s not pretty. It looks like mental illness. It looks like inconsistency and irrationality and withdrawal. It looks like feelings and beliefs based in a need for survival that saved my life then but are dysfunctional now.

It looks like the dreaming, hoping, planning, giving, pouring-out part of my brain taking a giant step back and rerouting energy to the empathizing, feeling, surviving, and processing part of my brain.

It looks like setting down Martha’s striving-to-meet-expectations and picking up Mary’s sitting-at-the-feet-of-Jesus. Mary’s lying in a fetal position at the feet of Jesus. Mary’s crying all over the feet of Jesus.

Not because I am some self-righteous person who is in a constant heart-state of worship. But because without Him, there is no life for me. Period.

So maybe I’ll try to write more? Or maybe I’ll stay quiet. Maybe I’ll be able to grab coffee and lead worship? Or maybe I’ll rest. Honestly, I don’t know what God has for our family in this season. And let’s be real… I’m still doing this in the context of FIVE kids. 😉

My life right now is definitely not what I expected, but I know it will be worth it. And I trust with all my heart God is walking with us through it, and my soul is of utmost importance to Him. All of our souls are.

Love you guys. Thanks for journeying with us – highs and lows and everything in between. ❤

Missing Isaac, but we’re almost all here!

10 thoughts on “Expectation Management”

  1. Do we share a life?! 😂 I am so sad to read your words and the lines between the words about this hard season. It’s been this way for me too. Crying out to God to just heal my mind.

    Thank you for writing. It breathes life into dark places and opens ways for courage. You’re going to make it.


    1. Right!?? Thanks for the encouragement. I always wonder if it’s helpful or just indulgent to write about these things, but then I read your words and know what a blessing they are to me… I can only hope to have the same impact. 💕 You’re going to make it too.


  2. So much truth. Facing the stillness here in this corner of the world and feeling common threads. Praying that exchange of his light for our heavy, moment by moment. Love and blessings over you, beautiful anointed Emily.


  3. 💖 It is wise and bold and brave to sit at the feet of Jesus when you are asked to do so. And, it isn’t easy! You are so strong and amazing, and I am so proud of you!


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