Saturday, January 9, 2016

And So Instead...

When you go to a foreign country, you expect disorder.
You expect chaos.
You expect nothing to go as planned.

When we went to Korea (in August 2013), we went with the expectation that we would be out of our comfort zone, we didn't expect to be knowledgable or understood. We didn't expect to know the language or understand the culture. We didn't have many expectations at all, in fact. Because we knew that in such a new and foreign environment, we would need to be flexible and adaptable. We would need to be open to whatever came our way as a means of survival.

All packed and ready to fly to Korea

When you come home, you expect familiarity.
You expect sameness.
You expect things to be comfortable.

This has not been true for me. This has not been easier, this has been harder. This has not been familiar, this has been foreign.The Universe did not respond to MY expectations about how this should go coming back to America. And lately, I've kinda been stomping my feet around about how life has "let me down" and this is just too hard. But the problem isn't the situation in front of me, it's in my expectations.

All packed and ready to leave Korea

I've said it before and I'll say it again: expectations are tricky.
And...Re-evaluating our expectations is one of the hardest things we will do in our lives.
Or maybe it's THE hardest thing!
(I'll work on that hypothesis and get back to you)

We carry with us all kinds of expectations in life.
Expectations that...
-we will be happy
-we will graduate college
-we will get a job
-we will get married
-we will travel
-when we are ____ years-old, we will _______
-everyone we love will live long and happy lives
-there will be more sunny days than rainy ones

And living a life based on expectations leads to a lot of disappointment, because life doesn't really care about your expectations for how you thought this would go. Life will be what it will be.

But some of the most interesting and resilient people I know are those who practice the art of continually and whole-heartedly re-evaluating their expectations on a daily basis. Taking an open stance to life instead of a defensive one (and expectations are a defense, aren't they?).

This looks like:
-planning a lovely picnic, but it rained, and so instead, they ate soggy sandwiches and made-out in the back of the car all afternoon.

-hoping for a big promotion at work, but it didn't happen, and so instead they reached out to their manager and opened up a dialogue about what they can do to get it next time.

-entering into a marriage with the hope that they would have kids, but found out that they couldn't, and so instead they found a way to add life and vitality and meaning to their story in other beautiful ways.

The formula looks like this:
hope + reality = "and so instead..."

At my best, I am perpetually adjusting with humor and grace to this crazy thing called life.
At my worst, I find myself often chronically thinking, "This is not how I thought this would go."

I never expected that at 28 years-old I'd be married, jobless, directionless, and living with my parents in the hometown I never planned to return to. Ever.

And if I stay here, holding my expectations close to me like a warm blanket, I'll never move. Because we all gain some comfort in having expectations and thinking that somehow the Universe will play along if we just wish hard enough.

But it rarely does.

And so instead...I'm finding the backpack I took off 3 months ago and I'm putting it back on.

Not because we are going to move anywhere soon.
Not because we need to galavant to another country or anything.
But because I want to remain open to whatever God has in-store for us next.

And the best stance I can possibly take in this life--regardless of where I stand physically--is to be open to any and all of it. Even when I'm "home" now in Colorado, my ability to be flexible and adaptable is just as important here in America as it was in Korea.

On to the next great adventure: Colorado.


Emily Graham said...

Right on! I needed this today.