Last night I dreamed that I had closed up all my responsibilities and moved to a small town in Wyoming.  Perhaps I’ve watched too many Longmire episodes, but I sure was disappointed to wake up in St. Louis.

That’s what’s on my mind today.  Disappointment.  I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately.  For whatever reason my disappointments scream out much louder to me than my successes.  I’ve come to believe that the problem lies in my expectations.

As my friends know, I’ve been re-reading The Shack.  This book has some incredible insights into the heart of God.  I wanted to mention a couple of them here to hopefully encourage some of you who may be in the same boat as I am.

The first point is that I set expectations for myself that may not be soaked in the will of God.  In fact, they may be destructive to my life.  But they feel right.  Sometimes they are a beautiful escape like Wyoming.  Or sometimes they are the love of a woman I have become mesmerized by.  But in most cases, they remain unfulfilled.

I ask myself the hard questions.  I beat myself up spiritually.  I must not be delighting myself in the Lord enough because He is not giving me the desires of my heart.  Rather, the desires in my heart may not be originating from Him.  So I generally throw up my hands and surrender.  I cannot trust my heart.  For this, I don’t have an answer yet.  I could readily present to you lots of Biblical philosophy, but I am simply not prepared to do so at this moment.

Disappointment.  Is it necessary?  I’ve always adopted logical, safe philosophies to guard my heart.  My mother tells me that as a young child I told her that I always expect the worst so that I’m never disappointed.  Then when good stuff happens, I will be happy.  That seems like pretty advanced thinking for a little kid.  But I’ve held to that standard all these years.  Life has a way of reinforcing the underlying thought behind that philosophy.  Life is full of disappointment and I simply don’t want it.

But why is life so full of disappointment?  Is it because we are all fallible human beings whose selfish motives often harm each other?  Is it because the things we want are unrealistic?  Is it because God is not creating healthy desires in our hearts?

Back to The Shack.  One of the many luminous portions of the book is a section where Papa (God) is talking to the main character (Mac) about expectations.  God tells Mac He never places expectations on any single one of us.  That would be silly since He created us and knows us deeply.  He knows the beginning from the end.  Expectations require that someone doesn’t know the future and wants to control a particular outcome.  We try to control behavior through expectations.  God already knows.

The profound part is that because God doesn’t place expectations on us, He is never disappointed in us.  Here is the quote from Papa “What I do have is a constant and living expectancy in our relationship, and I will give you an ability to respond to any situation and circumstance in which you find yourself.  To the degree that you resort to expectations and responsibilities, to that degree you neither know me nor trust me.”

The Holy Spirit character (Sarayu) explained the difference between expectancy and expectation this way, “Let’s use the example of friendship and how removing the element of life from a noun can drastically alter a relationship.  If you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship.  When we see each other or are apart, there is an expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking.  That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else.  But what happens if I change that expectancy to an expectation – spoken or unspoken?  Suddenly law has entered into our relationship.  You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations.”

So God has a living expectancy in His relationship with me.  And this blows my mind.  I wish I understood this when I was that little kid formulating philosophies to protect myself.  I wonder what a different man I would be?  I wonder what I would see when I look into the past?

For now, I muddle my way through moments of ‘getting it’ and then back into the darkness of disappointment.  I hope one day Papa will fix me.