Do you ever live out one of those scenarios where you hear a word with fresh ears that you never really paid attention to, or maybe even learn a new word; and, suddenly that word is appearing everywhere around you. On the radio, on the TV, in books, in advertisements, you can’t run from it no matter what you do.
I have encountered such a word over the past couple of months. The word is expectancy. I can’t get away from it. Yesterday, in reading, The Shack, a book given to me by Will and Jenny Brust and a book I highly recommend to all of you (http://www.theshackbook.com/), I encountered the word yet again, but this time I feel I encountered the purpose behind this word being so much at the forefront of my consciousness.
The purpose lies in the difference between expectations and expectancy. If you look at the definitions there is basically no difference between the two words. They both mean, “to live in a state of expectation.” But to my thinking there is a great difference between them.
Most of us live our entire lives with expectations all around us. We have expectations for ourselves. We have expectations for others. Others have expectations of us. We have expectations of our God and for our relationship with God.
I struggle with expectations. I struggle under the weight of them. I struggle to uphold them. We are bred under the weight of expectation. These may serve to motivate and drive us to some degree, but in the context of relationship expectations only serve to inhibit, constrict, and control that which is meant to be free and dynamic.
Expectations are set and specific in nature. Expectations lend themselves to static systems that are easily managed and defined.
But relationships are non-linear and dynamic in nature. They do not progress evenly along a given slope, but are living organisms that have life of their own and are not meant to be managed but lived.
This is where expectancy enters the equation. Relationships are made for expectancy. With expectancy there is freedom instead of law, there is fluidity instead of rigidity. There is an expectancy that should exist within our relationships. Whether we are together or apart, there is an expectancy of being together, of laughing, and talking and experiencing life with one another. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else.
If this expectancy is exchanged for expectations then legislation enters the relationship. We feel the need to set certain times and amounts of meeting. We are expected to perform a certain way within relationship. Living relationship deteriorates into a static formality with rules and requirements.
My greatest hurt and disappointment in relationships (with humanity and with my God) have been a result of others not living up to my expectation for them and our relationship. My greatest joys and my healthiest relationships are those lived in expectancy. Expectancy allows those we are in relationship to be fully themselves and to love us and invest in us in the fullness of what they have to give and we have the same freedom toward them.
How different would our relationship with God be if we did not limit our relationship with our expectations? How different would it be if we stopped living under the weight of what we believe to be God’s expectations of us? What if we simply lived in a state of expectancy of God moving in our life and our responding as He leads? Can you imagine how that would free you to respond and how it would free God to move beyond any of our small, limited, constricting expectations? Such freedom, I fear, is rarely experience among believers.
How different would our relationships be different with one another if we dropped our expectations and instead lived with one another in a state of expectancy of how our relationships will develop and grow? Living in relationship expectantly looking for the times of laughter, joy, comfort, peace, sadness, and tears that are the building blocks of all real relationships. Intentionality, planning, and organization aren’t thrown out under the banner of expectancy, but are enhanced because now within our intentions, planning, and organization there exists a freedom for God’s movement among us that might not have existed because of the rigidity of our set expectations.
May we transform our relationships. May we be a family who learns to live with great expectancy in relationship with each other and with our God.