Photo Credit: Lindsay Tiblets
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him (Psalm 62:5). In those times where you feel the most anxious, the most stressed, and the most burdened, where does your hope come from? Where do you find strength when you are not where you wanted to be at this point in life?
During these trying times, we find ourselves at a very important fork in the road. A fork in the road that can impact the coming days, weeks, months, or even years of our lives. My brothers and sisters, we have brought our desires to this fork. At their core, our desires are not a bad thing. They come from the way we see the world and the way we respond to our spirit. Down one path, our desires are transformed into an understanding of God’s purpose in our lives. The other path leads us to what I call the “Lie of Expectations.”
Following the path that leads us towards God’s purpose gives us the opportunity to find joy in being a part of something bigger than ourselves and in being in loving fellowship with our fellow man. You may be thinking, “wow, this sounds great! Why would someone not want to go down this path?” Following this path requires humility and patience. Unfortunately, these concepts go against the grain the convenience-driven and self-motivated culture in which we live. We are always pursuing self-sufficiency, self-esteem, self this, and self that. Don’t you ever get tired of always striving for self? Don’t you ever lay awake at night, wishing you could just take a break?
No! We don’t take breaks. We EXPECT our lives to go a certain way and we EXPECT others to treat us a certain way, so we do not rest until our EXPECTATIONS are met. I submit to you today, EXPECTATIONS ARE A LIE!
I speak to you today from right beside you on the other path, the downward path of expectations. For you, this path may be filled with sadness, brokenness, anxiety, stress, loneliness, fear, hate, or anger. For me, the expectation of a relatively seamless entry into the social work profession has been the source of regret and shame that I have never known. I am currently 33 years old, with a Masters in Social Work, a Bachelor of Business Administration, over 8 years experience running a business, 8 years experience mentoring foster youth, and last but not least a loving family and a loving God in my corner. I do not desire a high paying career… I do not desire a career where I hold a position of power. My only desire is to find something where I can support my family, while becoming a part of something bigger than myself. Is that too much to ask?
Looking beyond my own life, it pains me to see how the lie of expectation impacts the world around us. I see people physically or emotionally hurting themselves or others because their desires have not been met and they have festered into unmet expectations. Those unmet expectations about oneself or others leads to hatred. This is not what anyone wanted! So can we escape the path of expectations and find the path towards God’s purpose?
I’ve got good news for each and every one of you. Yes! It is never too late to escape the path of expectations and find a path that will lead you towards fellowship and being a part of something bigger than yourself. But Beware! You can fall off the path to purpose just as easy as you found it. With our culture going down the self-driven path of expectations, I would say it is much easier to fall off the path to purpose. So now you must be asking, “how can I make sure I stay on this path?”
Personally, I believe that staying on this path to purpose begins and ends with your personal journey with God. Without God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit, we are left to our own perspective of this world. With our perspective being shaped by culture every moment we are conscious, the road down the path to purpose without God’s guidance is impossible.
Now, I understand that each of us is at a different place in our personal faith journey. If you have not trusted in God as your Lord and Savior, I would first like to let you know that there is a reason why you are still looking at this message and have not shut it down after the first few mentions of God. May I invite you to walk further in your faith journey. If you have trusted in God as your Lord and Savior, you are most likely looking for something to feed your mind and body, while God is continually working on your soul.
Regardless of whether or not you have accepted Jesus into your life, I would like to submit to you two concepts to remember as you walk down the path to purpose, avoiding the lie of expectations. These two concepts are humility and patience.
C.S. Lewis once said, “true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” This quote strikes a chord with me. As I have tried to figure out why my entry into the social work profession has not been as seamless as I “expected,” I think about how I have gotten humility all wrong. For my entire life, I have done everything based on thinking of myself less and trying to be empathetic to others. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the “thinking less of yourself” part. I have forgotten that God “fearfully and wonderfully” made me “in his image.” When I think less of myself, I neglect telling the story of His Grace, Mercy, and Love, through me, and I place the attention on my expectations and the burdens that come from those expectations. I urge you to step outside of yourself and think about how you would be formed if your body was meant to exhibit Grace, Mercy, and Love. Once you have done this, I urge you to step back inside your body and to see others through Grace, Mercy, and Love-Colored glasses. That is what humility means to me.
Lastly, I want to talk about patience. Outside of my misguided humility, patience has been the other concept in which I have gotten wrong for so long. I believe that God has ordained me to take these failures, and what I have learned from the failure, and offer you two tools that will arm you as you navigate the path towards loving fellowship and a purpose that is bigger than all of us. As I move to express patience to each of you, I return to the verse that has guided this message – “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” My brothers and sisters, you are not alone. Wait for Him in silence. Lay your sadness, brokenness, anxiety, stress, loneliness, fear, hate, and anger at His feet. Turn away from the lie of expectations.