If you ask anyone in the Midwest about the weather, you are sure to hear a strong opinion. Living here, we have little option but to embrace the seasons find something to look forward to in whatever is coming next. While I know plenty of folks who detest Chicago winters, I am not among them. Once the leaves have fallen from the trees in the woods near my home, I know it is time for snow. Having lived in this area forever, the ebb and flow of warm and cold is a rhythm that lends familiarity to my life. I rarely complain about whatever the season... until this year.
This weather is driving me nuts. To date, we have had less than 2 inches of snow total and most days the temperature hovers around 40 degrees... most definitely not normal for a Chicago winter! There was news coverage yesterday of people golfing and playing tennis outdoors. In January. In the Midwest. The lack of precipitation was most evident during the holidays when the grass in my yard was actually beginning to green! In an effort to offer a feeling of winter to my family, I sprayed "snow" from a can on all our windows on Christmas Eve so we awoke to seasonal scene! Yep, it is just plain driving me nuts.
I think so much of my frustration has to do with expectations. In September, we decorated with apples and pumpkins. In November, we added turkeys and cornucopias. As fall progressed, I used my crock-pot more, made heartier meals and watched the world outside blossom into reds, oranges and browns. The leaves fell away and I knew what would come next. It is a gift, really... the beauty of snow blanketing the drab brown of trees gone dormant and leaves blown away. I held my breath. I could do nothing. And what I expected never actually occurred.
Sometimes, expectations are like that. We know what is supposed to happen next. We anxiously expect that arrival. And sometimes things go according to plan. And sometimes they do not.
Sounds a lot like parenting, doesn't it? As we walk through the seasons of raising our family, we live with the pressure of what is expected. A smooth labor. A healthy baby. An easy adjustment to nursing. Milestones met on time. A peaceful family. An organized adoption. Children who grow in faith. Patience in parenting. Time for your spouse. Supportive family and friends. Sufficient resources. Great education. Healthy friendships for our kids. Kids who grow up. Kids who go to college. Kids who get married. Grand-kids.
We expect the path to follow the way we think it should go. We believe that the expecting is what will make it so. Except, parenting... and life... rarely follows the path we expect. And, I don't know about you... but in all honesty, it can drive me a little nuts. Because no matter how hard we work, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we strive, life doesn't usually work out that way.
So, here is the point where you think I will tie this up... neatly with a little bow. But, how honest would that be, really? Because disappointment from lost expectations is nothing that anyone should make neat. When your family is broken, you lose a child, you struggle with parenting, your marriage is rocky, your finances are a mess, your extended family is absent, your kids are ill, or you are lost in the missing of what you thought would come your way, it hurts. It leaves questions, frustration, confusion and sadness. At least it does for me. There are no words that can make that right...
There are a lot of things that I do not know... but this I have found to be true. Sometimes... not always... but sometimes, the-thing-that-comes-instead can be awfully sweet, too. Unexpected. Hard-won. Beautiful. And without the loss, we would have missed it altogether. It may not make it better... but I think it makes it different. And different is not all bad.
For the first time this season, we are expecting a snow storm in Chicago. I don't know if it will actually come but maybe it will. I will wait to wash the spray-snow off the windows... but somewhere deep inside me, I am harboring a bit of hope. Not hope in the snow. Hope in the One who makes it. Hope in the One who holds this crazy weather, and my sweet family, smack in the palm of His hand. Because I can expect whatever I want, but maybe I need to learn to trust... trust that it might not look like I thought... trust that my kids will all be okay... trust that my family will find it's way... trust.
Letting go of expectations is hard. Learning to trust is too. But, I am grateful to know that we can be blanketed in beauty even in the midst of the battle.
Blessings on your day.
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