Dec 14, 2015
Anticipation hangs in the air. There is this sense that things are just about to pop, to really come to ahead. And its good.
This is a season that is ripe with things to come, a moment in time pregnant with both meaning and purpose and not-yet. It feels like we are all just waiting with bated breath, on our toes, the edge of our seats. It is just so hard to wait.
This is what Christmas does to us, it leaves us wanting, waiting, yearning for something that is not-yet-to-be. They say that patience is a virtue, but it feels like more a punishment. And the thing is that we are certain that Christmas will arrive, it always does. We just have to wait it out and sooner or later, there it is. And it is good.
But then there are things that are not-yet, that may never be, since this world has very few guarantees. Things we wait for with anticipation, that we may have to wait for and never get to. Things like marriage, a baby, that new job, happiness, the end of pain and suffering. What do we do when we are waiting expectantly for those good things with uncertainty? This is the punishing burden of patience. This is looking into the future, through that darkened glass, with equal parts hope and terror. Anticipation can feel like adrenaline, or it can feel like a crushed lung. It just takes so much energy.
Here's the thing, though: Life is not always what we expect it to be. Our vision of what we want or expect is not the only vision out there. A long time ago, when a baby was born, it was not what was expected. This whole thing had been highly anticipated, but it did not go as most people planned. For thirty-odd years there was a lot of this sense that things were not as planned. That baby was supposed to be a king, but more often looked a lot like a sometimes-employed home builder. A nation's worth of anticipation was hanging on this dream that was uncertain, but sure had been promised. There was supposed to be all this good, but more often than not was not meeting expectations. There were good moments, but also head-scratching ones. And way back at the beginning, as all good foreshadowing works, was this weird beginning that only began to make sense in reverse. Anticipation works like that: we look and look and look for that hoped-for event only to miss out on the fullness of meaning because it is clouded with my expectation. It does not work like I think it should. I often get angry because the answer to my hopes is usually in a different form than I want. This has been going on a long time, for millennia: Not as expected, anticipated or dreamed of. But it was good.
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Have a great week.