I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the difference between expectations and reality. It seems like the biggest struggles I’ve faced in my life spiritually boil down to a discrepancy between my plans and expectations and reality.
When my husband and I had been married for a couple of years, we decided to start a family – as you do, right? But things didn’t go to plan. We struggled. What should have been an easy, natural thing, turned into doctors and tests and procedures. And none of it worked.
And I found myself wallowing down in the mud at the bottom of the pit of despair.
Even better? Since high school, I had taken a little bit of pride (or okay, let’s be real, a lot of pride) in the fact that I had a normal, healthy weight without having to stress about it. My mom and sister struggled and fought their weight. I’d been a chubby child who finally slimmed down. But infertility? It did a number on my hormones which, in turn, did a number on my body.
Suddenly, I was even more broken.
And the mud in that pit sucked me in deeper.
I wrestled with God about these things. A lot. I drew on the example of David in the imprecatory Psalms and reminded myself that God could take my anger.
Slowly. Over more time than I really care to admit, God wore down my pride. He broke through and showed me that my expectations had become an idol.
What do I mean? I have an analytical personality. (This sometimes surprises people, because we’re often told you’re either creative or analytical. Well not me. I’m both.) I love math. I went into computer science because I love the linear nature of do X and Y will happen. If Y doesn’t happen? Well, you goofed something up doing X, go fix it!
It’s a guarantee. Math and computers? If you can verify that your work is correct, you will have the correct answer.
And I wanted that to be true in every area of my life. It seemed reasonable.
But God never promised us that, and I wasn’t willing to be thankful for what was, because I was too focused on what I thought should have been the result of my work.
I thought I’d learned the lesson, but apparently I’m slow.
Lately, I’ve been back down in that mud.
I’m wrestling with a child who is probably facing some learning difference diagnoses and I’m not sure how severe it’s going to end up being. My sister is staring cancer in the face. We are still grieving the loss of my mom.
And the release of A Heart Rearranged marked my 29th book. And I had some serious expectations about being an author with 29 books to her name.
Those expectations aren’t anywhere near reality.
I thought for sure that by now my books would be contributing significantly to my family’s income. And while God absolutely provides for us through my husband’s job, there are bills that I wish I could help pay. There are ministries I would love to support more. There are treats I wish I could help provide. There are vacations I would love for us to take.
More than that, I expected that people would read and enjoy my books in bigger numbers than they do.
I believe the stories I write are the ones He’s asking me to write. I believe I’m being faithful by writing them. I believe I am working hard at marketing them. And I believe that readers would enjoy those stories, if they turned the first page.
But is that where it ends?
And so, down here in the mud, I’ve been asking God to make things more clear.
The schedule at this point is for me to release my final Peacock Hill Romance in November.
And I don’t know what comes next.
All I know right now is that I don’t want my books to be an idol.
I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to make money from my books. It wasn’t wrong to want to conceive. It’s not wrong to want to be a healthy weight or have a neurotypical child. It’s not wrong to wrestle with change and mourn the death of expectations.
Unless you cling too long to what you wanted and fail to embrace what is and thank God for it.
So I’ll be here, trying to thank God from the mud and asking for Him to show me what He wants me to do. Because I want to be faithful – even if the result of my faithfulness isn’t what I expected it to be.
(p.s. Today is your last day to grab Courage to Change for 99c! )