Occasionally I get discouraged because I don’t think we are living out our days the way I would like. I picture reading books on blankets under the clouds and leisurely walks watering the garden and baking bread together. So I started thinking about what kind of day I do want to have. As I put together a picture of it I realized that we DO have the type of days I want to have. I’m just envisioning the edited, Instagram-filtered version of it and what I get is a blurry shot with an old camera.
I don’t mean that life’s not good. Life is good. Hard occasionally, but good. What I do mean is that expectations and reality are never the same thing. I don’t care if you’re a stay-at-home mom or you just landed your dream job. I don’t care if you just got married to the love of your life or had your first baby or moved to a tropical island. Expectations and reality are never the same. See I envision reading aloud outside laying together on a blanket, pausing occasionally to eat grapes and look for shapes in the clouds. That’s not what happens. No one wants to read outside for one thing. Outside the boys want to run and fight with sticks. We read inside on the couch when I’m feeding the baby and I have to tell people not to jump on the couch and not to cry when we’re not reading their book first. Expectation killed the reality. (Of course we also have times of reading where my boys snuggle up against me and it almost kills me with perfect.)
What I envision as a leisurely walk wearing the baby and letting chubby hands water small plants turns into “please don’t step on all the vegetables,” “how did you get mud in your hair?” and a wiggling baby who doesn’t want to nap even if it’s naptime. Expectations kill reality.
It’s not that we aren’t doing the good things. We are. My kids will look back and know that we read books and took walks and watered gardens and made bread and went to the park. But if I’m not careful I can kill my contentment by focusing on what I expect life to look like instead of what it actually is. If I kill my contentment it will be easy for me to forget what I’m supposed to be doing. Instead of doing the work in front of me I’ll be looking for a work that matches my expectations better. Except it’s not there. I could spend my whole life jumping from one thing to another because I don’t realize that reality never matches the visions in my head.
Whenever I find that I’m disgruntled with the type of life we are living it’s usually an expectations problem meshed with wow, we’ve had a rash of tough days. Not that life itself needs to be revamped. It’s not time to jump ship and reverse everything we’ve been doing. Do things for a reason and keep doing them. One of my favorite quotes says, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”
We are doing the important things. We are nurturing our walks with Christ. Is it effortless? Absolutely not. I’m waking myself up to read my Bible and then apologizing when I don’t obey it and asking the boys to be quiet while we read it together. We are growing in our marriage. Easy? No. It takes time and effort and conversations and forgiveness. We are serving at church. Is it without problems? No, there are people there; people always bring problems. We are training our kids. Easy? Definitely not. But it’s worth the work that we have to pour into it.
This life before me doesn’t live to my expectations. I can either stop there and look for something that does- something that doesn’t exist. Or I can accept reality and embrace this path before me.