I am coming to terms with the fact that new seasons call for an adjustment in expectations. I realize now that much of the frustration I battle on a daily basis comes from striving to maintain expectations that I set for myself when I was younger and single. Now that I am married, have children, and am facing an imminent move in the near future it is time for them to change. Here are a few of the most significant ones:
*Relational priorities must be rearranged. My relationship concerns used to be all about other people. Who was my friend? Who wasn’t? Did I offend that person? Why hasn’t she called me back? How can I be more likeable? Is that person hurting? Does my coworker need encouragement today? Is it my turn to arrange the next visit? Now that I have little ones, I realize that I can’t baby adults anymore. Each person needs to solve their own problems, deal with their own feelings, and cultivate their side of the relationship. Of course I still want to stay close to friends and family members, but I no longer have the time and energy to do both their part and mine in staying connected.
*Materialism must be minimized. I like my stuff. I have invested a great deal of time, effort, and money in collecting and caring for my treasured possessions. Some of these include a beautiful library of favorite books, a decent collection of music and movies, and much beloved keepsakes and souvenirs from the past. Nearly two years into marriage and nine months into motherhood, I see that things are not people. Yes, my home should be clean and comfortable but not obsessively so. When it comes to spending time with my husband on his day off and cleaning – I should choose him. If there is a choice between letting little hands enjoy a treasured item or saving it in case it might get dirty or damaged – it should be used. And when it is time to pack up and move to a new home, rather than fear that something might get lost or broken, I need to embrace the adventure and trust God to provide for our daily needs.
*A day’s chores can be accomplishment enough. My old norm was to pack my daily to-do list with a dozen and one tasks of all genres. I would write down everything from cleaning and exercising to lesson planning three months in advance to letter-writing and blogging, and maybe throw in time to plan a few Christmas gift ideas too. It has been a painful process to slash my list down to morning chores, planning dinner, and if I have time, write one letter. My heart is finally recognizing that every chore can be an act of love and spare moments are not wasted if they are spent being silly to earn baby giggles. The new demands on my time require much energy and organization, but they are all good and necessary things. Extra or different does not always mean better; daily and ordinary do not always mean less significant.
I am sure that as the days and weeks roll by, as my family grows in number and size, as the view from my back porch changes, I will continue to see the need for adjusting my expectations. Through Christ’s patient pruning, molding, and convicting I will be more ready to accept that my expectations are not being lowered, they are just a little different from what I was used to.