Monday, May 20, 2013


Before setting out on a mission trip, I always give my youth a speech about expectations. I hope they have all memorized it by now and use it daily, but just in case they haven't, I repeat it again and again. I don't talk about how I expect them to act and represent our church. I am not listing all the ways I expect them to serve, grow and change. I am asking them to let go of all their expectations...
Flash back...I read a book that completely changed the way that I understand my own life experiences. To date, I believe this book has offered me more transformational material than anything I have yet encountered. It  has also helped in laying a foundation for me to understand the Spirit's offerings in a more applicable and meaningful way on a daily basis. The book I am referring to is called "Kindred Spirit: Fulfilling Love's Promise" by Matthew and Terces Engelhart.

The Engelhart's created this book to teach their philosophy on life. They model this way of living daily and train their staff to practice their philosophy while they work in their various farm-to-table restaurants on the West coast. This way of living and viewing the world has become so transformational and life-giving that they have been leading weekend workshops all over the country empowering people to fully embrace being love. If you haven't had the chance to learn more about this couple, I hope you will check out the links on this page. I also highly recommend reading their books. 

 For the present moment, I am going to share their idea on expectation which consequentially has become my own. When you walk into any situation you have been trained to create expectations. You picture how the day will go, imagine who you will see and how they will act, you decide how you will act and react and to what standard you will be held. We create expectations constantly. When you make a phone call you either expect someone to pick up or not. When you hangout with your friends you expect to do something particular or to find them behaving in a certain way. Cooking dinner, you expect the recipes to come out a certain way and the consumers to react according to those expectations. In relationships, you expect your spouse to understand what you are feeling or thinking or perhaps you don't expect them too. It doesn't matter if you are creating them for yourself, your relationships or your experiences; you are creating expectations. 
This is me expecting these pants to look good on me...

When you create expectations you are only letting yourself experience two things: Meeting your expectations or being disappointed. There is nothing in between those two outcomes from this daily practice. If you want to dilute an experience and reduce love down to a theory, the best thing you can possibly do is create expectations.

Growing up, I remember being taught to set high expectations for myself. These expectations were often unrealistic and therefore, I was usually left with a feeling of  disappointment in myself. I also expect certain things from my friends and family. All this ends up doing is holding them low, not allowing them to change or grow and not allowing us to grow together. How can there be love in this state of experiencing the world? We are taught that expectations are a tool for humankind assume control. What we are actually controlling is the hinge on a door that shuts out God's provision.


  • Pull you out of the present moment- they are future driven which means they haven't even happened yet.
  • Are met which only makes you right but often isn't fulfilling.
  • Are not met which leave you with the experience of disappointment.
  • Place your ability to be satisfied outside of yourself.
Expectation come from a place of want. Most of the time we just expect things to happen because it is what we hope will take place. Sometimes we expect things to happen because of what has taken place. Either way, these two reasons have nothing to do with what is happening right now in this moment.

When you set expectations about how things will turn out and how people are then you are not allowing yourself to experience what really is. You are saying that your experience of the world is outside of yourself. This is a lie. You choose your expectations and you choose your experience of everything. You can choose to experience this blog post as truth or as bull honkie. You can choose to experience your husband as not loving you because he isn't doing the things you want him to do. Or you can choose to experience how he is showing you that he loves you which is probably different from what you expected. We choose our experiences. The power is in your perception.

Letting go of expectation is allowing yourself to live fully present to love in the moment. When you can simply BE in the moment, BE with people, BE who you are right now, then you can truly open yourself up to experiencing love. God is providing in every single moment of our lives. I believe this with all my being and I believe His provision is laid before us in an experience of love. 

This is Joel taking the moment in Boston
When I am looking at my youth and talking about this, I think about moments on our mission trips. We are set up to expect to serve at various non-profits all over the city but sometimes that doesn't work out. Instead of having that chance to serve in a soup kitchen, we actually got to sit outside with a couple of homeless guys and hear their story. My youth have learned that God provided them that moment. They really are embracing the potential that this mission trip week is about being open to what God is already providing in every moment and choosing not to blind ourselves with expectations of what those provisions should have looked like. 

This is how I try to live each day. 

If there is something you want or need, just ask for it or share that information. If you find yourself creating an expectation based on something that happened in the past, remember that you are not the same person you were yesterday and neither is that person you are thinking about. Remember to leave room for transformation, not just in your life, but in the lives of others. We are constantly growing. We should hold each other high and honor the journey of growth we are all on together. 

If you have to live into one expectation please let it be this:

Expect the unexpected.