Leaving expectations behind

By Jessica Brodie

I should have known better, but I expected 2021 to be different.

I expected the pandemic would have settled down a bit this year, that my masks would be in a bin somewhere, kept only as memorabilia from the crazy 2020 “year that was.”

I’ve scaled back my expectations for 2022. I rightfully should—after all, not a single one of us knows what tomorrow will bring, nor do we know God’s big-picture plan and how that breaks down regarding our day-to-day lives.

Still, a life lived brings lessons learned, and this year, I’ve learned plenty.

Some of us have lost close family and friends over the past year, some to COVID-19 and some to other things. Some of us have been faced with tremendous financial difficulty, physical disability, heartache and other completely unexpected circumstances.

As we approach 2022, I’ve decided I don’t want to live in planned expectation anymore. The only expectation I want is the one I have as a follower of Christ: that I can rest in the genuine peace and comfort that God is going to take care of everything. He always has, and he always will.

Part of that is showing up in the way I’ve looked at the holidays recently. This year, my husband and I embraced an alternative Thanksgiving. Our puppy had just been neutered and we couldn’t board him, he’s too rambunctious to bring to other people’s houses at this phase in his life, our kids were with their other parents (we’re a “blended family”) and all of our other family was out of town.

So we turned tradition on its head and went camping for Thanksgiving. I roasted a turkey a few days prior, and we had leftovers on sandwiches in the middle of the forest in Upstate South Carolina. It was freezing, and we slept in a summer tent on a leaking air mattress without pillows, yet I’ll never forget the feeling of deep soul gratitude that stayed with me those entire two days.

All the important aspects of the holiday—the meaning, the thankfulness, the joy and hope—were magnified when everything else was stripped away.

We carried that on to our Christmas celebrations, too.

I don’t know what next year will bring for myself, for my family, for our community, even for our denomination, but I have learned to be OK with that.

I don’t have to know the plan. I only have to trust that God is a mighty and sovereign creator who loves me deeply.

As you prepare your hearts and lives for a new year, I pray you join me in letting go of your expectations of what things “should” look like and instead seize the joy promised to us in our savior, Jesus.

Happy New Year, my friends.

May God bless you and comfort your soul with the everlasting contentment of a life spent wrapped in his loving, steady arms.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”—John 14:27 (NIV)

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