Great Expectations

Are you a planner? Do your plans work out the way you think they will:

a) most of the time

b) some of the time


c) rarely?

I know, you don’t want to take a test today, but hang in there with me.  You see, I love to plan things. Like parties. I am proud to say that I can plan a rockin’ theme party. My theme parties almost always work out the way I think they will. (I realize that ‘almost always’ isn’t one of the possibilities in the quiz. Sorry.) Theme parties are highly addictive for that very reason. My kitchen recipes almost always turn out like I think they will. It’s one of the reasons baking can be so much fun. Think about your basic chocolate chip cookie recipe…sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, salt, flour, baking soda and chocolate chips. It’s hard to mess it up if you follow the directions. Baking definitely requires more attention where the recipe is concerned, but cooking is generally very forgiving. Ingredients can be combined based on taste or what you have on hand and generally you’ll come up with something edible.

Not so much with kids. You can read the ‘cookbooks’. There are hundreds of wonderful books on parenting. I’ve read a lot of them. You can do exactly what the books say but that doesn’t mean your kid will perform like the recipe in the book. This is maddening for those of us who love to plan.

You probably read the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” books like I did. Did you want to shred yours like I did? Mine read like a book of lies. The information wasn’t necessarily incorrect…it just didn’t apply to me. My morning sickness lasted well beyond the first trimester, thus ruining the entire book for me. I skipped the chapter about c-sections because that information didn’t apply to me either. It was for women who didn’t come from super-birthing-mothers. Like me. It wasn’t in the plan. I’ll never forget when our childbirth class guest obstetrician told us that one in every three women in the room would end up having a c-section. I looked around the room and whispered to my husband with genuine compassion, “That’s really sad for them.” My plan not to plan for the unexpected slammed into my plan at 4am with a breach baby who needed an emergency c-section.

You would think that having the snot kicked out of my plans over and over and over I’d learn that my plans c) rarely go like I expect them to would teach me to STOP with the over-planning. I guess you could say I’m a slow learner. I also have to believe there’s hope for me and for others like me. There are others like me, right?

Plans aren’t bad. The desire for order is very good and given to us by the One in whose image we were made. God loves order. All we have to do is look at creation to see that he’s an expert at order. Plans get sticky when my desire to be in control supersedes God’s plan for my life or those that he’s entrusted to me. Turns out my ‘expert’ party planning skills aren’t appreciated in every aspect of our lives. Like I said, I’m a slow learner.

Our plans work best when they flow out of His plans. Jesus tells us in John 15 that we can remain in him and he will remain in us. This is what one commentary says about remaining in Jesus:

A believer is motivated by the wonder of Jesus’ love, which is patterned after the Father’s love in its quality and extent. Remain in My love might seem to be mystical but Jesus makes it very concrete. Obedience to the Father’s commands is the same for a disciple as it was for the Son (cf. 14:15, 21, 23; 1 John 2:3; 3:22, 24; 5:3). Active dependence and loving obedience are the proper paths for all of God’s children.–(Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Jn 15:9–10). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

Active dependence and loving obedience. Isn’t that what we hope to get from our kids when they’re young or maybe not so very young? Like why are we still fighting about the fact that we have to do our math every single day? Loving obedience sounds like a fairytale most of the time.

What if God’s looking for my active dependence upon HIM and looking for some loving obedience from me? What if I let go of my plan and settle into his plan? What if my plans and great expectations are setting me up for failure because they’re not dependent upon him? What if I can save myself a whole lot of drama by letting him run the show?

These are questions from a desperate mother who’s tried it her way and is fed up with the results. Maybe you’ve been there or can relate?

Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

This explains a whole lot. It also fills me with hope. I may be a slow learner, but at least I’m learning. You are too.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.