When I was in college, I’ll never forget my friend, Trisha, once saying, “Expectations are preconceived resentments.” I think we were talking about something relatively unimportant when she dropped that little nugget into the middle of a thought. But, that one thought has stuck with me for a long time, and I had to think about it for awhile.
That our expectations could be preconceived resentments.
Because really, so often, when things don’t go the way that we want or expect, we get upset. We have an idea about what we want or where we’re going and when that doesn’t come to pass, we feel disappointed, discouraged, maybe even rejected or angry.
Paramount maturity, right?
Maybe you planned to get married right out of college because it’s what your parents did. Now, it’s spring term senior year, and you’ve not so much as gone on a single date with anyone. Shoot! What now? Maybe you expected the job you landed would turn out to climb you up the corporate ladder into glowing success? Perhaps the family you’ve been planning since getting your first Cabbage Patch doll would supposed to come easily? Hello miscarriage and infertility. Enter subsequent longstanding depression and a bad attitude. Why me God? Why not me? Things aren’t exactly going according to plan here and I am ticked.
But, when expectations of this life don’t turn out as imagined, we take offense with God. We recall past disappointments and determine sometimes that maybe God doesn’t want what is good for us after all. We forget His bigness, goodness, and possibility.
Instead of believing that God is good and is for us, we begin to believe perhaps He is punishing us, or teaching us a lesson as a strict and harsh disciplinarian. Distrust and broken hope hold our hands and lead us into a place of believing we are out of favor with God. We spend what can even be years wandering around in a place we don’t know and never wanted to be. And God is just a big, fat jerk. Welcome to the wilderness … where you feel alone, forgotten, hopeless, and angry.
When we are facing disappointment, unmet expectations, or even seasons of prolonged wilderness, could it be that what the Lord has for us is training? In the wilderness, when we are lost, discouraged, and can’t find our way, the only thing we are supposed to find is The Way. In the place we are lost, can we realize it’s there that we are found? In the wilderness, when all else is gone, can we find fresh curiosity for God? In our isolation, can we have renewed hope in all that God could have for us?
A gift of the wilderness is the clarity we gain when all else is stripped away. When life feels bare, it is easier to see what is truly important. Priorities align, distractions fade away, and we find ourselves in an environment where we can dig deeper into our faith.