Lowered Expectations

Girl on a swing

When my husband and I announced that we were expecting an addition to our family, people often asked us whether we wanted a boy or a girl. I found myself giving the standard reply of “It doesn’t really matter to us. We just want them to be healthy.” It was an accepted answer and most times the conversations turned to the next question regarding the pregnancy.

However, the more I responded in this way, the more convicted I was. While it was true that I wanted (and still want) our baby to be healthy, I came to realize that this was mostly about the kind of life that I wanted for her while on this Earth. After all, most parents imagine their kids participating in sports, running on the playground, interacting with friends, and growing up in what we’ve come to accept as the “normal” way. We want to protect our children from pain, from ridicule or from any other unpleasant experience. We equate physical health with a kind of normalcy that we can expect and enjoy.

As a Christian and a mom, however, my primary concern shouldn’t be for my child’s physical well-being. My overriding desire shouldn’t be that her body functions in the way it was designed to do. My most pressing concern should be reserved for her spiritual health. More than desiring a “normal” life for her while she walks this Earth, I should desire that she has an exceptional life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is a hard realization to come to. After all, as I anticipate the arrival of our little one, her eternal impact seems a long way off. But time moves quickly and before I know it, she will need to make a decision about whom she will serve (Mt. 6:24). My prayer is that she will choose Christ. And if this prayer is answered in the affirmative, I know that by definition her life will not be an easy one (Jn. 16:33). She, like all of Christ’s disciples, will be challenged because of her faith. She will experience the ridicule that comes from shunning the things of the world in order to please Him. She will know the pain of sacrifice and the heartache of fractured relationships. Her life won’t be an easy one – as it is not for any servant of the King – but my prayer is that it will be a great one – for His Kingdom and His purposes.

As I anticipate her arrival, my hope is that I can maintain this perspective. I pray that I don’t settle for accepting the world’s definition of what I should want for my child but I look towards God’s. I still want her to be physically health, it is true, but even more so, I want her to be spiritually sound, growing in wisdom and in favor with God and man.  My desire is that God would capture her heart at a young age and that she would serve Him regardless of the costs. God’s plan for her may not look like what I desire for my child, but I know that His love for her is even greater than my own. As such, I want my desires for her life to aligns with His. I don’t want to settle for lowered expectations – I want to embrace eternal ones.

Again, this is not easy. But when I think about what really matters in the life of my little girl, this is it. And what matters in her life is what matters in my own as well. May I not be willing to accept lowered expectations for her – or for me. May I wholeheartedly embrace what God desires for each of our lives knowing that He is working all things together for His purposes. May my heart’s cry not be for what’s easy, but for what’s eternal.

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Unlikely Contentment

When I first started blogging, one of my main focuses was on “being content.” Perhaps it was the season in my life, but I found that people around me, as a general rule, struggled with accepting the life that God had given them – and even more so – rejoicing in the life God had given them. Contentedness is not something that comes easy in a culture that tells us that we constantly need more stuff, more relationships, and more, more, more. Yet while it’s easy to blame the absence of contentedness on society, the truth is that the real culprit lies in the human heart. We aren’t discontent because a marketing message tells us we shouldn’t be (although it’s possible for that to fuel it); there’s another reason. If we aren’t God’s children, we aren’t content because we don’t have Him. If we are His kids, and we aren’t content, it’s because we don’t appreciate that because we have Him, there is nothing else that we need.

The ironic thing is that it’s hard to tell whether you find your contenedness in God until it’s tested. When things that you relied on or people that you counted on are taken away, you begin to understand whether contendness is found in them or in God. When dreams are shattered, when plans don’t work out as you intended, and when the future seems completely uncertain, and you are still hopefully confident because you know that God is on  your side, that’s true contentment. Contentment is easy when things are as expected; it’s harder when life has ceased to be predictable.

Yet we can see from Scripture that contentment in Christ can cause unlikely things to bring fulfillment. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul writes:

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Dictionary.com says that being content means “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else. ” So Paul not only accepted his weakness, his trials, and his persecutions, he was satisfied with them. He didn’t want anything else than what God had allowed in his life. And if God had allowed these things, he would be satisfied with them, because he knew that through them, God was doing a work.

In the midst of the hard times, it is difficult to see how God is working. We don’t understand the reason for the challenges, the heartache and the pain. In our minds, there is a much easier path to get to where we are going. And perhaps there is. But God is doing something with the path that we’re on. If, for His sake, we are willing to be satisfied with the things He has allowed in our life, we can expect that He will do great things with them. And that’s a reason to be content.


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