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  • Writer's picturekara-duncan

Expectations and Gratitude

I was chatting with a friend recently about our mutual love to go thrifting for our clothes. There’s something about the thrill of the hunt, looking through racks of clothes and finding unique pieces that fit our style. We also talked about the fact that when on the occasion that we “splurge” to buy a new outfit, we’re often what I consider a “premeditative shopper”. It’s when you have an image in your mind of what type of outfit you’d like to find and purchase before you even leave the house. And then once you shop various stores you find that there’s nothing of what you had hoped or imagined. Nothing comes close; your expectations aren’t met. In turn I think that’s why I enjoy shopping at thrift stores because I go in with low expectations because I must. With inventory that can’t be predicated I have to go in with an open mind and see what I find and what works. It reminds me of a book I read years ago called Solve for Happy. The author Mo Gawdat’s son dies unexpectedly and he turns to an equation to get through his grief. The equation states that happiness is greater than, or equal to, your perception of the events in your life minus the expectation of how life should be (see image below). Which makes total sense. The lower our expectations are coming into something, the more likely we are to have them met, if not exceeded.

I have a habit, as most of us do, of maintaining high expectations in various situations. When Denis and I were first married, the expectation of us starting our family was one of them. I expected that when the time was right, and we were ready we would have no issues becoming pregnant and starting our family. As most of you know of our story, reality for us was far from it. A rollercoaster of eight years led us to our sweet Olivia. With a long journey of many twists and turns that I did not expect, you begin to let go of expectations and hold them instead as desires. Countless prayers were made asking God to honor our hearts desire for a family. When you’ve waited for so long for something and prayed so hard, once it arrives there is a constant sense of awe and gratitude that comes with it. And it has stayed with me and surprised me sometimes in unexpected ways. As we recently approached the milestone of Olivia’s first day of Kindergarten, I was full of excitement for her. She was ready to start Kindergarten and I was alongside her ready to support her as well. The morning of her first day she came into our bedroom after she had gotten dressed to show me her outfit. My heart melted to see her sweet face beaming with joy about her new adventure she was soon to embark upon. After she finished getting ready, we made our way downstairs to snap pictures with her “Kindergarten” sign. Again, the joy beaming from her was contagious. She was excited and nervous to begin her first day at her new school. Olivia, Denis and I piled into the car to make our way to school where we would be allowed to drop her off in her classroom on the first day. We all walked in, showed her where to put her backpack and watched as she settled into her chair behind the desk. We gave our hugs and kisses and told her we’d see her in a few hours. As I looked back at her, sitting so sweetly at her desk with the room full of other kids I started to get misty-eyed. As Denis and I made our way down the hallway tears started to well up. I stopped in the bathroom to wipe away some tears as we continued on our way back to the car. As we left the school parking lot it felt safe and tears started flowing. Emotions that I hadn’t expected came over me. I had a deep and significant sense of gratitude. I prayed and thanked God that we had the gift of this moment in time with her. The gift of being her parents. A gift that for years I wasn’t sure if we would even receive. During our wait to become parents I watched my expectations morph to desires and desires morph to heartfelt prayers knowing that only God knew if we would be provided the ability to become parents. But God was faithful. And now here I was with a phone full of pictures of Olivia on her first day in big kid school. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not to say that other Mother’s didn’t have gratitude and joy for their kiddos on their big day as well. No matter how we arrive at Motherhood, it’s all a miracle and a beautiful journey. But knowing that we had the humble privilege of having a front row seat to this moment with Olivia, it felt like my heart could have taken flight. I’m excited to see what God has in store for Olivia as she continues to grow and learn at her new school. And I’m forever grateful to God for the gift of being able to watch as her life unfolds.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. When I read that verse, I like to put the emphasis on the word “all circumstances” because I think that’s an essential way to move through every season of our life. Our lives are written like a story – there will be highs and lows. But allowing God to inform our expectations and desires will help us maintain our mindset of peace and expressing our gratitude to God will help us always to see the good. And when those precious moments arrive to witness a big milestone in a loved one’s life, I promise you, that moment will be sweeter, deeper and richer than anyone could have prepared you for. So, dig deep my friends, allow God to align your expectations and desires to His while you thank Him everyday for His goodness and faithfulness.

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