Monday, December 28, 2009

Expectation vs. Expectancy

There are a couple of major life lessons that God's been teaching and reinforcing in me over and over this year. I'll write about the other one later but the biggest lesson I've been learning is the difference between expectation and expectancy.

Honestly, this is something I've never really thought about before - and I would venture to say that you probably haven't either - but it's a powerful thought. Do you know what the difference is between expectation and expectancy?

Expectation is saying I want something from you; expectancy is saying I want to be with you. Expectation causes one to get upset when you're late; expectancy causes one to just be so glad when you get there - no matter what time it is.

Expectation is hard and cruel master. It's totally performance based and rather selfish; if you don't do what I want you to do, I become disappointed, disenchanted, frustrated, and upset. Expectation doesn't build up a relationships but rather, it strains relationships. It puts a burden on one person and gives power to the other. It turns a relationship into a situation where there are winners and losers - and that's not how relationships should be. It is more suitable for business contracts than for human relationships. Expectation is something we have to deal with, so it would be wise for us to clearly make our expectations known to each other instead of keeping them unspoken and harming our relationships by doing so.

Expectancy on the other hand, is simply wonderful. It's life giving, hope building, and relationship strengthening. Expectancy is behind the saying "absence makes the heart grow stronger". It is not selfish but selfless. It actually takes off the burden that expectation puts on us and replaces it with a sense of joyful anticipation. It's what causes a mother to work so hard to make her son or daughter's favorite food when they come home to visit from college. It's what causes a dad to drive home fast after a business trip and move briskly to the door so that he can see his wife and kids even just a second sooner. It's what causes kids to want to stay up late so they can be with grandma and grandpa. Expectancy is what fuels relationships because it is a mark of God's love and promise to return one day and take His children Home with Him.

This year, I've seen both the ugly face of expectation and the beautiful face of expectancy in different relationships of mine. I've seen a friend get angry at me because I didn't fulfill their expectation (which I didn't know they had until I had failed to meet it), and I've seen friends bear with me and extend much grace to me when I was late or had a short fuse or was impatient. Thankfully, the amount expectancy from those I love has far outweighed the amount of expectation.

And the expectancy I experience from those I love is a soothing balm for the harsh lashes that expectation leaves on my soul. It lets me know I am loved, helps me move closer to believing I am wanted, and shows me in a tangible way what God's grace is like. I believe that God is more a God of expectancy than expectation.

So I hope that this year, you have experienced expectancy far more than you have expectation. And I hope that next year, you will not be a person of expectation, but will be a person of expectancy.

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