Monday, April 12, 2010

Expectancy in the ER

The next edition to "The Heart of the Family" revisits the idea that God is asking us to live in expectancy and response (and not in the confines of expectations and responsibilities). Much of the text is taken from an earlier post entitled, "God is a Verb."

I say this to preface a little adventure I went on a few weeks ago. Jeff was out of town. Of course, this was the time that our littlest boy, Jack, decided to taste as many Dramamine tablets as he could stomach before getting caught. (Yes - they WERE in a child-proof container). Needless to say, he and I ended up in the ER very quickly after the taste test.

In addition to the many little miracles that occurred that night, one of them being Jack willingly eating an entire cupful of black, charcoal-laden chocolate pudding(!), was my realization that life IS better lived in expectancy.

You see, I had almost 6 straight hours with my little man...all to ourselves (save the leads and wires, and nurses, and doctors). I had absolutely ZERO expectations set upon him. I had no idea what to expect from the hospital visit, and no idea what he would do in that situation. I was living in a moment-by-moment sense of expectancy and response, and NOT by expectations and responsibilities. I was joyfully surprised every time something went 'right' (like eating the pudding, and getting a perfect EKG the very first try), and in the same breath not the least bit frustrated when we had a 'set back' (like getting charcoal pudding all over the sheet, or getting tangled up in the many wires we were wresting's that for alliteration?). I was actually enjoying myself in the ER, but more importantly, I was enjoying my relationship with Jack. Living in expectancy and response was fun, freeing, and rewarding. I wouldn't trade my time in the ER for anything, because it allowed me the chance to see Jack from a different set of eyes - eyes that looked for my chance to respond to him, and not just see the many responsibilities I have towards him. Eyes that saw the joy in living in expectancy and not the frustration of living in my unmet expectations, even of a 2 year old. God was moving that night. He was moving in my heart and giving me a glimpse of life lived in expectancy.

On the other hand, God also gave me the dubious honor of experiencing life on the opposite end of the spectrum - in the throws of expectation and responsibility. A few weeks later, our entire family came down with a nasty cold. It hit the 2 babies and parents the hardest. So needless to say, I was not at my best the morning after two babies developed croup in the middle of the night and I slept fitfully despite great hope set upon NyQuil to cure my troubles.

Jeff had returned home from his trip, but was now required at work, and I had to man the home-front alone. It was not pretty.

I started the day by setting expectations upon everyone, and not telling a soul what they were. Things like, "we will all just sit around quietly today and rest" and "without schoolwork, the children could clean their entire room." When the two little ones didn't stay quiet, and instead cried, whined, and fought their way through breakfast, a good chunk of my patience went out the door with Daddy. When the older two children complained, delayed, and negotiated their way out of cleaning their rooms, "Ugly Mommy" came out to play. As some of you Moms out there may relate - I 'lost it.' Impatient words, furled lip, and stomping feet were but the opening act to the play. The main act included barking orders, crying children (above and beyond what they brought to the breakfast table), and others running for cover. Thankfully, the closing scene was me on my knees praying the very holy prayer of, "Heeeeeeelp!!!

My expectations had been set in stone that morning. I had not shared a single one of them, and yet I held my entire family responsible for throwing them to the ground before I could even finish my first cup of (cold) coffee. I was living in the chaos and frustration of unmet expectations. I was living, in a sense, in death - for I was living in the noun: expectation. It was killing my relationships with my children, killing my hopes for today, and threatening even to kill my desire for tomorrow. Living in the nouns of life is not God's plan. He is not dead. He is alive and calling us to live in the verbs of life: to expect and not to set expectations; to respond and not to be bound in responsibilities. I'll take the ER over that breakfast table any day.

So, with that all said, I'll save the next edition for tomorrow. I've said enough today.

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