We can’t help but be subject to it. Our past experiences shape our current perspectives. Our current perspectives shape our expectations for this day and for the future. We see through our own lenses and we tend to measure what we see against our expectations.
Sometimes we look up and the horizon seems to be cast in some kind of crazy double vision — we cannot get what we now see before us to line up with what we expected to see. The images just won’t merge, with one perfectly aligned on top of the other. Our reality and our expectations, they may not merge — and that can make us feel dizzy and disoriented, or even disappointed.
And many of us lead lives we never expected. Our expectations and our realities have not lined up.
We’re taught from the youngest of ages to consider our futures. Tiny little kids who barely even comprehend the implications of this question are so often asked, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” Adults grin and laugh when one child answers, “I want to be a superhero and save the planet from zombies.” Adults smile and nod with approval when one child answers, “I want to be a doctor.”
Their answers show us things — they show us what these little ones find valuable (at least at the red hot moment in which they answer the inquiry). Their answers show us precious things about their perspectives, personalities and dreams. We are trained in our culture to think and see and consider along these lines.
What do you want to be?
What do you want to do?
How do you want to spend your life?
I grew up being asked these questions, and you likely did, too.
I grew up to be a college professor (which was not my expectation) and as such, I have many, many conversations about future dreams and hopes and aspirations. It’s actually my job to convey information to students that they hope will be used in some future pursuit — a job, an entrance exam into graduate school or medical school or in medical research. It is important that I steward that responsibility well. Yet, I know that many of my students will have lives they never imagined. Life will be different — they will see different things, have different experiences, different joys, different sorrows, different challenges than they ever imagined.
It was well over a hundred degrees one day when I looked up and the horizon line suddenly became blurry. Warm air was rising as we departed the elevator and turned to our right, heading down a hallway at the adoption registration center. We were not rookie parents. We were not rookie adoptive parents. We were not rookies in this foreign country that we love and love very, very much. We were not rookies with trauma or adjustments or hard things or serious medical and developmental concerns. And this precious little one’s written file was very straightforward seeming, and we had experience with all of her needs about which we knew.
And in one split second we knew that we were living the life we never expected.
She was such an unexpected gift. We had thought it was His plan for us to add one child to our family when we adopted for the third time. He led us to add two. We had certain ideas about her based on her adoption file, and she was so much more than what the file shared.
Our hearts both dropped and soared. The middle ground in which to catch our breath seemed illusive. Many things happened in our hearts and minds and in our interactions with others in those early days. They were harder days than I knew could exist. Those days and those sights and those moments and those feelings, they are tucked away in my heart forever.
But here we are. God has now knit together a family for us today where several of our children will not likely ever live or function independently. And He started writing this story that oh-so-hot August day.
We knew it instantly that morning in Chongqing. Every day of forever was going to look different than we ever expected. We would not see or think or move about in any of the same ways again. We were already parents, but this day marked the beginning of a life far different than our expectations.
I glanced ahead and everything blurred. The vision of my expectations and the image of my reality were double vision to the max. I didn’t have any idea what to make of it, but I did know Who held it. And He held us in those long days and months of endless hospital trips, difficult diagnoses, and when this mama would slip into the hospital bathroom and sink to the ground in tears.
Every sunrise and every sunset this is true.
This story is not ours to write.
These hands, His hands.
These feet, His feet.
Waking up to the life you never imagined is waking up to beauty you have never seen, both in the here and now and in the There and Then.
Rest in a Father who promises to evermore make your vision more clear as you grow to see not what scene is before you, not to see the blurred landscape of expectations, but to see evermore through the eyes of confident faith.
Risk big love.
– 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, The Message