Jessica Smith: Traveler, wannabe food critique, and dreamer at heart. I love visiting towns that have character, hot cocoa, and witnessing miracles. Jesus currently has given me the opportunity to work with Wellspring Living, fighting the injustice of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
When you stop and think about, expectation is a weird word. It literally means a hope, anticipation, or potential, but rarely do we think of it as such. Our expectations are generally things that we think we are entitled to, instead of something that is a potential or even a hope. I never hope that my car will start in the morning or think that potentially there will be coffee at the Starbucks drive through. I just expect it, and if it doesn’t happen, I act like the world is against me.
I didn’t act like this last year. A year ago today, I was living in a cold, sunless, soot-filled and trash-covered hole of a city in Southern China. I was working in a welfare center for dying children. I didn’t expect coffee in the morning. I was just excited if we had enough time to heat water for plain oatmeal or if I could actually choke down the incredibly spicy food they prepared for lunch. My perspectives were harnessed on right. Not because I thought about people dying in foreign countries, but because I was witnessing it everyday.
But here I am, a year later, watching my impatience brew as the car in front of me is driving 10 miles under the speed limit. What’s changed? The fact that my experience in China didn’t rock my world? No. The fact that I don’t have to eat spicy greens everyday for lunch? Well, maybe. But honestly it boils down to the fact that my surroundings and influencers changed. I grew up in a house where dinner was always ready promptly at 6pm and my bed was soft and warm. Spending a month in communist China isn’t going to change 25 years of comfortable living. But it did give me a glimpse of another life. A life where if you own a car you are in the top 2% bracket of the wealthiest people in the world and the $4 I spent on a latte turned into my entire day’s worth of food money. Ironic, isn’t it?
So what do we as do? Stop expecting everything and live on the line of mediocrity? I don’t think so—I don’t believe that people are called to a complete upheaval of their current lifestyle to fix our incredibly overblown expectation list. There could be a time and a season for that, but we all know the power we have as consumers in this country to change the world for good (I’ll save that for another blog). But I do think it starts with our expectations. A healthy amount of expectations is good for your life: expectations of a job you love, a beautiful family, or fun, quality time with your friends. But it’s when things like this become standard, and if you aren’t seeing them come true in your life and delivered to you by your fairy godmother, you start to get whiny and pessimistic. That’s when we have a problem.
Tomorrow morning do I expect to have hot coffee for breakfast? Yes. Will my morning be destroyed if that doesn’t happen? I hope not. For now I will consider my morning cup of coffee a treat, and something to hope for over expect. Everything becomes much more of a joyful experience when you look at it that way.
Read More on Expectations:
Hope and Expectation