Have you recently experienced frustration? Plans didn’t go your way?
Maybe that meeting with your dream agent didn’t go well. Or the pub committee declined your project, despite enthusiastic championing by the acquisitions editor. Maybe you planned a full day of writing while the kids were in school, only to have your third-grader come down with a stomach virus.
That seems to be happening more lately. I’m irritated by circumstances that interfere with my plans and expectations. But what if the cause of the irritation is not external at all? What if I’m the cause of my own frustration?
Someone once said “the level of your frustration is directly related to the level of your expectations.”
Read that again.
So the real cause of my own grief is most likely…me.
Unrealistic expectations. Expectations grounded in reality as I want it to be, rather than the way it is.
Ancient Israel had a similar problem. Their expectations of the coming Messiah were based on cherry-picked prophecies. The sad result was that they didn’t recognize Him when He did come. They were so busy looking for a victorious military leader that they missed the Suffering Servant who came to redeem humanity.
So what’s the answer?
I believe the answer for a Christian is to live expectantly. And that includes Christian writers.
To live expectantly is to live in eager anticipation for how God will work in our life, without setting specific expectations or demands on what that will look like. Living expectantly allows us to recognize where the Holy Spirit might be moving in areas we would not normally look for Him. And it communicates that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord does, allows, or gives—without comparing it to our own agenda or shopping list.
Those who live expectantly have the privilege of living out a truth understood by martyred missionary Jim Elliot: “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.”
Remember Theodor Geisel? Does his name ring a bell? If you write for children, it should. But you might know him by his pen name: Dr. Seuss. If you’re not familiar with his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, you’re most certainly familiar with his other books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.
Dr. Seuss also fell victim to expectations. During one interview, he was asked how long he expected The Cat in the Hat to take to write. His answer? “I figured I could knock it off in a week or so.” How long did it actually take to write? “A year and a half.”
So you see, we’re all vulnerable to unfulfilled expectations, even the great Dr. Seuss!
Will you join me? Together, let’s put aside our expectations and live in daily expectancy for how God will show Himself active in our life, including our writing life. And as He does, share your experiences with others to increase their own sense of expectancy.