Friday, June 1, 2007
Lessons from my garden: Expectations
It happens every year. I forget what plants I had the year before that should be coming back. And then one appears that I hadn't expected, and I get so excited. Once in awhile, it really is an annual turned perennial. (Bethany has a huge dianthus like that in her container.) I love it when that happens! But if you have any experience in gardening, you know what I'm about to say--it's usually a weed. This year I thought a verbena had come back in one of my containers. It's this gorgeous green plant, complete with scalloped edges, just like a verbena. But the other day I was in a greenhouse, and noticed that those scalloped edges on the verbena leaves really didn't look like mine, and they were much smaller and more delicate. And not in threes. Duped again. So the next morning I went out to take one more look and think about getting it out of there, when WHOA! Here were these gorgeous raindrops painted exquisitely on the tips of those scallops--not at all what I had expected! What a wonderful surprise.
Expectations. You know, our whole attitude towards life really boils down to how we manage our expectations. We are big on teaching our kids that, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6) But it is sometimes hard to model. We easily fall into "discontentment thinking". "I can only be happy if..." or "I am not happy because..." or "I should have had..."-- that sort of thing. Weeds in our garden of thoughts, if you will. A recipe for a great loss.
When we find ourselves out of sorts, it's pretty easy to sort out by asking, "What was I expecting?" Often we expect people to meet our expectations, and they don't. But was it a reasonable expectation? Did I communicate the expectation? Did the other person "sign up" to meet it ? And sometimes our circumstances fall in place such that some time or money or other resource or anticipated event we expected to have doesn't materialize. Some of our choices are no longer available. And then one choice remains: will we choose contentment, or discontentment?
"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:20-21
What are you expecting?
P.S. The faux verbena is history. But there is one just like it in Benjamin's container. I'm leaving it right there to see what it becomes. And to see if it collects any more raindrops.