I have great expectations for First Church! I hope you do, too! I have great expectations for our continuing to grow in numbers, and in the depth of our discipleship. I have great expectations for our increasing witness and service to the greater Portland community. I have great expectations for our grounding in joy.
But if we are going to meet (or even exceed) our expectations, we are going to have to decide where we put our attention. There is always a gap between the “here and now” reality and the “great expectations” of the future. There is also a gap between our expectations and our resignation (you know, about the way things have always been… or about how many times we’ve already tried something new… or about the challenges we are facing in any given moment).
Too often we choose to live in the gap defined by our resignation. We know we are in that gap if these signs are present:
- We hold fixed and immutable views
- We prefer reviewing the past to envisioning the future
- Our interpretations of present realities are related to as if they were ultimate truths.
- We exhibit a victim mentality
- We can’t seem to come up with many alternative actions in the face of current challenges
- We passively accept whatever disconnect there is between our preferred future and our current reality
- We are cynical about the possibility of making changes that are proactive, positive and sustainable
- We have given in to despair
Life is an interpretation. And whether our interpretations are empowering or disempowering depends on the choices we make. When we need more possibilities, when we feel stuck in some area of life, we may need to re-examine and to change our interpretations of the present moment. We may need to look for interpretations which open up the greatest number of possible actions.
Carlos Castaneda once remarked, “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” Assuming there is some truth in that remark, I for one would vote for strength rather than misery. And I do have great expectations for us all!