“It wasn’t what I was expecting, Mom.”
Those reflective words from my five-year-old come from countless experiences of navigating transitions and life together. The intersection of hope meeting reality is something he wears on his sleeve. He is not the type of person who thrives on or even enjoys surprises. Over the years we have worked to give meaning and language to what he feels when something just does not match up with what he hoped for or imagined it to be in his head and now we have settled on that phrase “it wasn’t what I was expecting”.
Sometimes, we just don't want surprises
This phrase most recently came out the day before his birthday party. We were talking about what he could expect and he inquired about the presents his friends would bring. He wanted to know what he could expect his presents to be because: “You know I don’t really like surprises, Mom.”
We talked in this case about how he should not expect that everyone would give him a gift, but he could expect that anyone who gave him a gift would have taken time to think about what he would like. He could expect that the gift was given with the hope that he would love it and have fun. In the midst of that conversation is where I found my own longings for the year ahead.
What "surprises" will a new year hold?
I am also just as eager to know what I can expect too, not in the form of birthday gifts, but in the upcoming year. After two years of navigating a pandemic the start of another year with the reality of a virus and its various strands still present feels like my expectations for good gifts ahead will be likely unmet. Making resolutions or picking a word of the year? Is it even worth taking the time to set my own 2022 expectations?
Can I expect that I will have to deliver news of being quarantined to my kids again? Probably. Can I expect that I will see more people I know get sick? Probably. Can I expect that I will experience tension over politics and current events? Probably. Can I expect to generally face something personally difficult in the coming year? Definitely.
And if that was all I was expecting to face in 2022, I am not sure I will be able to get out of bed on January 1. If my hope, and trust, was anchored on whether or not I would be receiving good gifts from the year ahead, I could expect that my year would be one devastating experience after the next.
Christ is our anchor
Where do I turn for hope as I look to turn the calendar to 2022? I turn to the pages of God’s word where He meets me day in and day out with promises that always exceed my expectations. In Hebrews 10:23 the author writes:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
My hope for the new year ahead can be rightly placed in the manger that held an incarnate Savior. It can be placed on the cross where that same Savior hung to die and my hope can be placed in the empty tomb where that Savior rose defeating death and sin for eternity.
This type of hope “does not put us to shame (disappoint us), because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
2022 won’t be what I am expecting if I only place my hope in resolutions or words of my own choosing but it will be everything I am expecting when I place my hope in the hands who created hope itself.
This month download the Everyday Faith calendar for a daily Bible reading and prompt centered around what scripture tells us about hope.