No Expectations

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Well, here we are in the midst of uncertainty due to Covid-19.  Who would have ever thought that this is where our country would be in this moment? Sometimes, I feel like I’m watching a movie play out in my mind…you know like “Outbreak” or “Contagion”. It’s almost surreal that we are watching those scenarios play out before our very eyes. I never even dreamed of this kind of thing happening in my lifetime. When I first heard about the virus in China, I in no way expected it to make it’s way to this country, nor did I expect it to have the impact it has had on our economy. It does, however, make it easy to see how quickly our normal can become abnormal…how our expectations of life continuing as we have always known it just stops in its tracks. I think I’ve talked about that a time or two in my posts about pain and grief. This situation is somewhat different though because we’re all experiencing this together while we are also practicing social distancing. We’re in this together while we’re remaining apart.

Strange, isn’t it? It’s strange how our normal, everyday routines just ceased. It’s strange driving by restaurants and non-essential stores and seeing bare parking lots with no cars in sight. It’s strange that I won’t return to school with students until next year. It’s absolutely insane. Yet, what choice do we have? We don’t have a choice…this is where we are as a nation. It takes some time to make those adjustments, but eventually, your mind begins to grasp the reality of the situation and you can then begin to cope with such quick and drastic changes. Sadly, it isn’t like that with grief.

I remember early in my grief journey, I longed for the day when the pain wasn’t so intense. I saw others who had been traveling the journey longer than me and I almost envied where they were in processing their grief. I knew that they were still hurting, but I could hardly function without crying…they could at least manage social situations without spontaneously breaking down. I never thought that I would get to the point they were at….but here I am. I still have my days, but overall, I am in a better place than I was 4 years ago. It has, however, taken a lot of hard work to get here because the only way to heal is to feel it…to cry…to let yourself hurt…to wander through the grief aimlessly.

Now that I’m on the other side of the journey, I am beginning to see things a little more clearly. It’s so much easier to get your bearings once the fog has cleared. You know..hindsight is 20/20 right?  I know that you’ve read many of my posts and are aware of the anger I described. I also stepped out on a limb and confessed my anger towards God. I mean, 4 years ago, I felt as if I had lost my faith. Lost probably isn’t the right word because I couldn’t be mad at God if I didn’t believe in him. Right? I think what made me feel like I had lost my faith was my inability to talk to or with God. I couldn’t bring myself to pray and when I heard people talk about how good God was…I would get even angrier. You see, I had asked God to deliver Aaron from his addiction while all the time, I had the expectation that Aaron’s deliverance would be sobriety….not death. I had placed my expectations on God’s answer. I mean…parents know what is best for their parents…right?

Once I realized that I had the answer already played out in my mind…that I knew how God was going to answer my prayer, I realized that I hadn’t truly trusted Him with my prayer. I think I had learned to equate believing or having expectations with having faith. The problem in my thinking was that I hadn’t distinguished the difference between believing and expecting. It wasn’t that I truly believed that Aaron would be delivered through sobriety, I had expected that to be the outcome. Expectation means the degree of probability that something will occur. Belief means to have confidence in the truth or the reliability of something. Do you see the difference? And while faith and expectation can work together, the problem comes when we expect that God is going to answer our prayer a certain way. It was my expectation upon His answer that led to my anger.

I am slowly working my way back to God. I’m not all the way there yet, but I do feel that reconciliation taking place.

Wherever you are in your grief…it’s normal to feel what you’re feeling. It just takes time to work through the pain, anger, denial, shock, depression, sadness, exhaustion, guilt, and panic. It’s not wrong to be where you are…it’s just where you are.

Be gentle with yourself and give yourself some grace. Place no expectations on yourself for healing…place no expectations on God. Just be where you are…feel what you feel…and you will make it through the forest…eventually.

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