Last year l purchased some gorgeous deep burgundy colored nasturtiums at the local nursery, and carefully collected their seeds at the end of the season. It was with great expectation that I sowed these seeds in my planting containers and awaited the coming colorful display. In time, my garden boxes were filled with a profusion of blooms in just about every color except the original burgundy! My vision for the garden was not achieved, so I had to decide whether to rejoice in this unexpected development or rip out the offending plants and start over at the nursery.
All too often life is like this — expectations are quite different from reality. It seems the more invested I am in a situation, the harder it is when it turns out to be different than what I am expecting. Unfortunately, Christmas can often be a time where the reality does not align with my vision, but I suppose this should not surprise me — after all, hasn’t it been like this from the beginning? When I reflect upon the birth of Jesus, I imagine that pretty much no one thought that this was how God was going to bring the promised Messiah into the world. Scholars tell us that many of the people at that time believed that the Savior would come as a conquering hero to vanquish the Romans. Even those who could look back through the texts at the prophecies of a virgin birth were probably thinking that the young woman God would choose would be the daughter of a high priest or another prominent person in society, not a young peasant girl from a backwater town. Then, as now, people had to decide whether to accept the unexpected situation and try to see how God was working through it or rail against it because it was not how things should be.
It seems the more invested I am in a situation, the harder it is when it turns out to be different than what I am expecting.
I am a very concrete sequential person, and I have a very clear idea of how things should be. Holiday preparations can take on epic proportions in my world, and it is a constant struggle for me not to let my expectations get in the way of focusing on what is really important about the celebration (just ask my husband about Christmas lights). When our three daughters were young, we had family traditions that were part of each Christmas, and although these have evolved over the years, there are still certain aspects of the celebration that are maintained each holiday. Christmas Eve is spent with close friends and includes worship. Christmas Day is family only. The day after Christmas is the day that boyfriends are invited to spend extended quality time with all of us.
Our grown daughters now all live far away, and for two of them, boyfriends have transitioned to husbands, and little ones have arrived to join in the fun. Our youngest daughter has not yet married, and over the years a succession of her boyfriends have joined us for our time after-Christmas adventures. As she approached her thirties, I redoubled my prayers that if she were to be married, God would be preparing just the right partner for her, someone who would share her faith as well as her life and would help her to keep growing into the person she was designed to be. Last November, this daughter told us she was dating again and in a serious relationship after taking a break from romance for over a year. As was our family pattern, her new love was invited to visit between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Even when I believe things are not how they are supposed to be in one of my children’s lives, God can and does work through the situation.
As a parent, I accept that God loves my daughters even more than I do, and I have confidence that even when I believe things are not how they are supposed to be in one of my children’s lives, God can and does work through the situation. Most of the time, the issue is whether I am going to get on board, or insist on having things the way I think they should be. This past Christmas was a great example of this. You see,
in all my prayers for a partner for my daughter, I had a clear picture in my mind of what this person would be like: someone of strong faith, a love for family, a hardworking individual with a strong moral and civic sense, and a person who would nurture and encourage my daughter. It seemed that her new love possessed all these attributes, and I should have been beside myself rejoicing, but it wasn’t that way, not at all. I was grudging in my acceptance of this new relationship, and reluctant to welcome this new person into our home. I poured out my heart to God, explaining that surely this situation was not how it should be, and of course, I had all sorts of reasons to justify my position. I felt God gently but firmly telling me, “Judging what is right and wrong is not your job, Kimberley, but mine. Your job is to love these two people I love so much and observe how I am working in their lives”. I realized that my job was to have my eyes and heart open to what God was doing through this situation. So, as they say, where I grew up, I got prayed up, and then got after it, resolving to welcome my daughter and her new girlfriend to our home in a way that would do justice to any Southern hostess.
I felt God gently but firmly telling me, “Judging what is right and wrong is not your job, Kimberley, but mine. Your job is to love these two people I love so much and observe how I am working in their lives”.
What began as a holiday I was dreading became the start of many blessings in the life of our family. My husband and I have grown in our relationship with the Lord, and surprisingly, our bond with other friends has grown much deeper. I am amazed at the number of people who have drawn closer to us and confided that they are facing a similar situation with one of their family members. Most of all, not a day goes by that I am not incredibly thankful for the blessing our daughter’s girlfriend has been in our lives. I can’t imagine what we would be missing out on if we would have insisted on having things the way we thought they should be, denying ourselves the opportunity of getting to know such an amazing and incredible woman.
Jesus’ ministry was so much more powerful because of the fact that he was not part of the religious or societal elite. My planters are much
more breathtaking because the flowers are not all burgundy. And although my specific expectations for my daughter’s future were not fulfilled either, I see God working in a powerful way in her life, and am blessed to welcome her new partner into our family. She was a Christmas gift we didn’t anticipate, but truly one that we treasure.