Monday, November 5, 2012

Great Expectations

“Have I lost all hope?”

I asked Brad the question in the middle of yet another power outage—this one unscheduled.

I wasn’t surprised by the outage, wasn’t annoyed. In fact, I’d been expecting it all day, as if living with a strange form of shell shock. All day long I’d been flipping on switches, turning on fans, pushing buttons on appliances, bracing myself for them not to work.

Just like I wait in the long lines for gasoline at the pump, kids screaming in the back, and when the pump runs out right as I pull up, I’m not surprised. Not annoyed. All hope gone that things will go right in my world.

Just like when I make one more cultural or language mistake among a people I may never fully understand in a world in which I'll never really fit. Not surprised. Not even embarrassed anymore. Never expecting to ever get it completely right.

In some ways, this is the healthiest place for an overseas worker. At least that’s what all the books and retired expats and good trainers say. “Keep your expectations low.” “Move overseas with no expectations of how it will be.” “Disappointment comes when we expect things to happen a certain way.”

Best to surrender, they say, which sometimes sounds like a fancy way of saying to give up.

But at my core, I’m a glass-half-full dreamer who wants to fight for things going right. And only with living year after year in a world that continues to go wrong have I tempered that with reality.

And maybe that’s one of the gifts about living here in a world of less. Not able to be fooled with wide smooth roads and unlimited electricity and stores that never run out. Not enticed by a world of wealth that promises things it was never meant to give. Not tempted to think higher of ourselves and our education and our technology than we ought. Not expecting happiness from circumstances that look like rocks but shift like sand.

I have the luxury of seeing the truth. That this world isn’t a place to which we should cling. Wealth is not a pursuit for which we should giving our souls. Safety as the highest priority cannot promise eternal life.

Instead the longer I’m here, the higher my expectations grow in my God. I expect Him to provide in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I expect Him to show up when no one else does.

I expect Him to carry me through the hard days, growing my faith strong even as my body becomes weak. I expect Him to put dreams and fights in me in the midst of a world gone wrong with an expectation that some things can be made right. That change deep down can happen.

That hope—in Him and Him alone—will never disappoint.

photo credit, seyed mostafa zamani

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