As we enter the season of advent, the time of “expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas,” I have been pondering the meaning of this season and my expectations in life. This is a time where we are reminded of the promises of good to come—the light in a world of darkness. It is a time of hope and of faith, as we trust that there are good things ahead, even when the troubles of the world are seemingly more and more disparaging.
As some of you may know, I had applied to a graduate school program in early fall and had been waiting to hear back from the school. After not hearing anything for 6-8 weeks, I reached out and discovered that my application had not yet been reviewed because they had not received a test score. My hope of starting medical school in fall of 2018 quickly began to disintegrate as I thought about the number of applicants that had probably already been interviewed and admitted. While I had been waiting patiently in expectation of a response, my chances of acceptance were diminishing day by day.
I was confused and frustrated—why had God led me to pursue this path and dream only for it to be seemingly taken away? Why, after all my working and waiting, had my efforts been met with failure instead of success? As I was holding these questions, my fellow ABQ YAV Claire reminded me that: “[God] gives you a vision, [God] kills the vision, and then [God] gives you the faith for the vision.” This was advice she had received when her original YAV site placement in Los Angeles, California fell through and she had to begin the YAV placement discernment process all over again (link to Claire’s blog). Hearing this made me think, while it is dissuading and uncomfortable for expectations and hopes to fall through, only through the “killing” of a vision can we build faith for this vision. If every vision easily came into fruition, how would we know that it is important? How would it hold meaning to ourselves, others, and God?
This experience of having the expectation of applying and hopefully being admitted seemingly fall between my fingers despite my best efforts has made me think about the difference between living with expectations and living in expectancy. I have realized that I tend to place self-serving expectations on God, instead of living a life of expectancy.
Expectancy does not expect things. Expectancy hopes. It has faith that good will come, but releases the expectation of what or how it will come about. – Laurie Coombs, blogger
I have realized that I am a person who has very great expectations for others and myself. I focus on concrete accomplishments with tangible end-values, as demonstrated by my never-ending checklists and goal plans. I realize that I often ask God: “Help me accomplish x, y, or z”, instead of: “What do you desire for me? What is your plan for my life?” In this most recent situation, instead of saying: “Wow, I guess God has other plans for me next year than medical school”, I jumped to, “Why God? Why?!” By placing my own expectations on my life, perhaps I am limiting the possible outcomes that could arise through living in expectancy of God’s plan for my life.
Living in expectancy is a great challenge of faith when what you are waiting for is unknown to you, or you have a vision but there is the chance that this vision may never become a reality. The vision of entering medicine has defined my life for the past six years, but how it will happen and what it will look like are a mystery to me. This is difficult for me as I fear the feeling of not knowing what is to come and the potential for failure that come with living in expectancy. In response to these feelings, a quotation from Claire’s blog post Living in Expectancy, resonated with me during this time of great uncertainty:
But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. [God] calls us to trust [in God] so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if [they don’t] come through.” – Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love
I’m not sure what God is calling me to do next, but I will try my best to sit patiently with the discomfort of the unknown, listen, and remain open to possibilities. I will work to have faith in the promise that whatever is next is part of a greater plan for my life, and to wait expectantly for this plan to appear. In this season of expectant waiting, I ask of you–are you living your life with expectations or in expectancy?