expectation avalanche

Not too long ago, I wrote about our Feast of Trumpets celebration. I’ve been planning to share about our family’s Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) observance, about a time of fasting, reflection, and rejoicing over the work of our perfect High Priest, Jesus. Instead, I have to share with you about my Yom Kippur meltdown.

Yes, you read that right. Instead of the deeply spiritual and meaningful celebration I envisioned, this momma came unglued.

Busyness, fatigue, and uncertainty kept us from celebrating on Friday, Saturday, or even on Sunday evening. My plans for our Monday celebration didn’t come together very well– but the expectations were certainly there.

I didn’t see them until I fell, suffocating under their weight. What an expectation avalanche! The “shoulds” came calling and stole all of my composure, all of my joy. Not measuring up to those expectations immediately translated into failure.

I let all of that bury me– instead of letting God breathe His Spirit into my weary soul and give me direction. I let the fear that I was failing send me further down river– instead of calling out for His arm to rescue me.

Ironically, celebrating the Day of Atonement is about recognizing our need for a Savior. A day when we reflect on the vastness of our depravity and the boundless grace of God that swallowed it up on the cross. It’s about confessing how far we are from perfection and what a mess we are without Jesus. It’s about celebrating the forgiveness that He gives and recognizing that God’s greatest expectation for us is that we simply respond to what He did on the cross.

I missed it.

Amnesia set in. The weighty expectations hit me in such a way that I forgot the very truth that God taught me during the last feast: Simple things can come together in such meaningful ways.

Simplicity somehow wasn’t enough this time. Somewhere below the surface, almost undetectable, a part of me was pursuing perfection. Ironically, simplicity would have saved the day! Letting go of my expectations instead of trying harder would have changed everything.

Ann Voskamp wrote on her blog that very same day:

Some pundit sipping carbonated knowledge said it somewhere: Reality – Expectations = Happiness

The equation supposedly goes like this: if your reality is greater than your expectations, then you’re happy.

[Reality (25) – Expectations (6) = Happiness (21)]

But if your expectations turn out to be greater than your reality, then you’re unhappy.

[Reality (25) – Expectations (35) = {Un}Happiness (-10) ]

What a great description of what happened to me! She goes on…

Your Reality in Christ is that you’re 100% saved, redeemed, accepted, carried, cared for, watched over, provided for, comforted, loved. Christ isn’t just sort of for you, Christ is 100% for you –your Reality is 100% safe in Him.

As for expectations — your expectations have a direct correlation on your irritations. The higher your expectations, the greater your irritations.

Your expectations in Christ are that you don’t deserve anything, can’t earn anything, don’t merit anything — your expectations are 0% in and of the flesh. It’s all grace.

The formula for life turns out to be blessedly simple:

Reality in Christ (1oo%) – Expectations (0%) = A Happiness — that has nothing to do with what Happens

My expectations and my meltdown completely vaporized my joy, and I found it impossible to bounce back in time to celebrate the Day of Atonement with simplicity and joy. This week, God has been reminding me over and over that:

No matter what happens, I can find joy.

Even in delays, in disasters, in disappointments. This is possible because true joy isn’t wrapped up in anything except who God is.

The kind of joy I’m always looking for is elusive, because it’s wrapped up in where I’m going, what I’m doing and whether I’m belonging.

However, even when I feel stripped of all else, even when my circumstances are shifting like the sand, I always have the joy of my salvation. That is where true joy comes from: knowing that the One who loves me, the One who will never change has me in His hand. In spite of my failings. Forever.

isaiah 61.10 flower

Lord, I confess aloud, “My expectation is in You.” You never disappoint. Holy Spirit, show me when my expectations shift to the unrealistic. Alert me when my expectations turn to my flesh and what I must do. Keep my eyes on the Father. Make me like the Son, who always looked to the Father, always yielded to the Father, always had His expectation set on the One whose will and plans are perfect. I set my heart to trust You, Lord.





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photo credit: one of the amazing De Silvia girls (text added by yours truly)

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