Expectations are tricky buggers.
Often, we don't know they are there, lurking beneath the surface, until they aren't met. And then they pop out like some sort of demon-infested honey badger and unleash venom on us and the people around us.
Take the cold, for example.
Here in Minnesota, we are enjoying our third day of school cancellation this month because of wicked wind chill. This morning, had my kids been waiting outside for the bus, the air temperature (-13) combined with the gusty wind would have made it feel like it was -45 outside. You know, colder than the surface of Mars. Exposed skin freezes in less than five minutes in temperatures like that. So we are staying inside today, enjoying a surprise morning of extra sleep and extra cuddles. The sky outside my window is piercing blue; there's no other word for it. The sun is crystalline and the whole world glitters like a diamond. A brittle, cold, sharp diamond.
But then again, it's January. I expect this in January.
Come April? It best not be -13 in April, with the snow piled high on my roof and bitter winds blowing from Canada. Because in April, it should be spring. Winter should have gasped its last by that point, and warm sunshine should be coaxing out the buds, and the birds should be trilling with joy.
I don't expect cold in April. Ergo, it makes me crabby when it happens. For proof, see pretty much every post I wrote April 2013.
Of course, my expectations were different when we lived in San Diego. Then, anything below 60 made me whine, no matter the month. Corey and I both laughed at ourselves when we were at an outdoor Christmas event in Balboa Park one year. We were shivering uncontrollably, even though we were wearing coats and mittens. The temperature was 45.
Which is the second tricky thing about expectations - they evolve. Life pushes and pulls them, like so many waves imperceptibly moving you downshore from your towel. It's wise, I think, to stop and notice this and recalibrate, when you can. It minimizes frustration and maximizes peace.
Because of Corey's travel schedule, I no longer expect him to be home. I expect him to be gone. This is huge, because I don't grouse nearly as much about solo-parenting when I view it as normal. Having him home is an added extra, a treat that isn't for every day.
Because of my children and their relentless desire to be with me, I no longer expect to get an unbroken night's sleep. It's been months, if not years, since I slept straight through. Thankfully, I fall back to sleep fairly easily, and maybe because I'm so used to sleeping with tiny bodies who dream they are punching kangaroos, I can sleep through a lot. I just no longer expect to sleep for more than two hours at a stretch.
Because of my own wrestling with God, I no longer expect to figure Him out or to "be right." I have grown to accept He is wild and big and, above all, boundless in grace and love. I don't expect a controlled God anymore, a God that can be explained and predicted. I expect awe, frustration, joy. I expect the opposite of what I would reason with my brain. I expect the unexpected. And I've never been so excited about the adventure of following Jesus.
What do you expect? It's an important question. And a good one, for a cold day in January.