"By the waters of reflection; my soul remembers who I am" Ps. 23:2-3
I started this post strictly about Easter, but now it's almost two weeks past that day and so I'm tweaking it a bit...I seem to have trouble just sitting and finishing a blog post.
Sometimes we have ideas in our heads of how we want things to go (especially during the holidays), whether based on traditions that we've always had or just our own minds conjuring up what expectations that could prove to be disappointing. One thing I've learned over the years is that misplaced expectations do not serve us well. Usually we place these expectations on others, but often they remain in our mind, without the other person ever knowing what they were, and that ultimately spells disaster. Or, we try really hard to make something come together and when it doesn't, we pout and mope and consider that day wasted, and it's all our own doing!
Real life application:
My amazing mother in law loves to host holidays at her home. It gives her great pleasure, and so I am totally into allowing her to do this (though we do Christmas Eve at our house). At first this was hard for me because I had expectations of what "I" thought holidays should look like. But after I was able to let those go, it all flowed beautifully...we planned together, I knew what I would be contributing and we all flourished.
This year, Easter was a bit different. Way different really. It also made me realize how much we depend on "tradition" to make a day "special", when really that's not what it's about at all. It's not even about what I think should happen. My in-laws were heading to a brunch at their church, my oldest (who is also newly married) had to work from 12-6 at the coffee shop so it was looking like it was just going to be my hubby, youngest daughter and I. When my oldest daughter got married I knew I didn't want to be "that" mom who put expectations on this newly married couple when it came to holidays. You know, they have to make sure they come to "our" house, or they have to be sure they get to everyone's house even if it means they're wasted at the end of the day. No, I wanted to let them make their plans and then fit my plans into them, or just make an invitation and let them decide. I decided to invite everyone (inlaws, nephew, oldest daughter and hubby) up to our house that evening around 6:00 for dessert and leftovers. If they could make it awesome, if not, no worries (sometimes easier said than done).
Let's back up a bit though. I will admit I was a little "out of my 'holiday' element", not sure what I was going to make, and especially for only 3 people. Hello...this is what I do everyday, why was it so complicated on this "special" day. I decided I had a ham in the freezer (from the 1/4 pig we bought last fall) and I would make that and use leftovers for little ham sandwiches that evening. I had it in the fridge thawing for a day or so and on saturday unwrapped it, panicked and decided there was NO WAY that was enough ham for 3 people and leftovers for later...it was smaller than I thought. I went to the store for ingredients for the other things (scalloped potatoes, asparagus and salad), and was at a loss as to what else I could make for us for lunch or serve that night. As I browsed my local Safeway I spied some lamb chops that looked really good. One pack left so I snatched them up. Now, I had a plan...lamb, scalloped potatoes and veggie for lunch; mini ham sandwiches, fruit salad and cake for the evening. Easy enough right? Maybe not! I found a recipe that evening for lamb chops that sounded wonderful (post later on that), HOWEVER, I discovered that the type of chops I bought required a longer cooking time (I discovered this about an hour and a half before I planned to eat). Nooooo! The last thing I wanted to do was ruin perfectly good lamb. Plan B...decided I didn't have several hours to cook this lamb, so I would go with the original recipe but allow the lamb to simmer in the pan for about an hour and pray for the best. The result? A beautifully, tender, flavorful lamb chop that I savored every bite of and wished desperately that I had more of.
I put the ham in the oven to warm a few hours before company arrived. When it was done, we sliced it up and served it with rolls, mayo, mustard and cheese. Along with fruit salad and chocolate cake topped with berries and whipped cream. Everything turned out just right, we relaxed, played games, ate and enjoyed each others company. The only downside was my oldest and her hubby were rear ended as they were turning on our road so they weren't quite in the social mood when they got to our house, which was totally okay.
I attribute the days success to simply letting go of any expectations I might have had and being willing to go with the flow and adjust to any blocks in the road, keeping it simple and just enjoying the people around me, because isn't that really what it's all about?
Whether it's holidays, a vacation, or just any other day of the week, it's so key to always be intentional and aware with and of our expectations (of ourselves, others or things) or circumstances. When we can keep them in check, we will experience so much more joy. I am all for dreaming and expecting great things, and pushing ourselves, don't get me wrong, but too often I see women posting things that make me think that the expectations they have on whatever it is they're posting about are going to disappoint if they are not careful. Dream big, expect great things, but don't deny reality. So, for example, I might pin things on my Pinterest boards that are pretty far beyond our current reality or maybe even future reality..they're just out there, but I love them and I can dream but at the same time keep my feet planted in current reality which says "while, that would be awesome, what can I do now, or what works for us now, can I save for this, how can I allow this to inspire me at the place I'm at or how can I tweak this idea to work within my budget, or even, "yah, probably not gonna happen but a girl can dream." I would love to own a "new" car, but we have committed to not having debt so, barring a miracle, lottery win, or something else, that probably isn't going to happen, and really, that's totally okay.
I realize we are all in different places and the expectations one might have (that are realistic) are not realistic for another person with the same expectations. I believe one of the biggest culprits of unrealistic expectations is comparison! Especially in the age of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Soon, we find our expectations being set according to someone elses life and that doesn't work. It takes intention to celebrate someone else, be inspired by someone else and keep our expectations realistic for us. I would even go so far as to put our own personal dreams as "realistic" because when we dream according to "our own personal life" they are limitless.
So go out, dream big, be inspired, be challenged, be real, and let go of unrealistic expectations.
With Joy UNquenchable,