This article appears in the latest spring issue of Connections.
You know those people whom good fortune seems to follow? We all know people like this – they seem to bring clear skies with them wherever they go. They win tickets to stuff. They get upgraded to first class. They get out of speeding tickets. They offer to help move furniture and have fun doing it. They’re patient, even in traffic. They meet celebrities on elevators. Babies stop crying in their arms. Strangers tell them their secrets. Even cats like them. They live their lives with a joyful hope that, if I’m being honest, I’ve caught myself envying. It seems like they’ve mastered the art of living expectantly. Do you know anyone like this?
I used to think these people were just luckier or more blessed than the rest of us, and therefore happier. As if their joy came only because things went right; or as if they had time to do cool stuff because they had finished their to-do list with time to spare (an utter impossibility most days). As if they were only able to live expectantly because of the nice hand they had been dealt.
Truth was, I had it all wrong. The condition of our mind should not depend on the condition of our circumstances, but the other way around. One thing I’ve learned about living expectantly is that it is a choice. It is what you choose to believe when nothing seems to be going right. It’s what you choose to do when there’s a shortage of hours and an excess of things to do and people to take care of. It’s what you choose to say when fear creeps in.
Living expectantly is about the way we choose to arrange our thoughts. It’s choosing to hope joyfully (Romans 12:11-13), or in other words, choosing to think about what could go right. I recently read an article that explained the probability of being born. It detailed everything that had to go right in order for you to be here, in this time and place on earth. It calculated the odds of all of your ancestors successfully reproducing through the generations, multiplied ALL the way down to the odds of your parents meeting, swiping right on Tinder, Netflix-and-chilling, and conceiving your cute self.
According to their calculations, the probability is one in 400 trillion. Crazy, right? I can barely wrap my head around that. These odds are best described with just one word: miracle. You and me, we’re miracles. Walking, breathing, Imago-Dei miracles. You, sitting here reading this magazine, are a long and unbroken chain of things that went right. Your very existence is proof of this. The least you can do for yourself and the one who created you is to think about what good could come from tomorrow.
Living expectantly also means choosing to trust that God is good and choosing to pray big prayers. Nothing renews my mind and puts things into perspective like a conversation with God. The way I think about it, the size of your prayers matches the size of your trust in God. Make them both big.
It means choosing to have more fun, even in the face of the list of important-and-unglamorous-things-that-you-don’t-get-paid-for-but-won’t-get-done-if-you-don’t-do-it-yourself. (You know the list.) Give yourself permission to do something unexpected and out of the ordinary. Turn a trip to the grocery store into an adventure. Play hide-and-seek with your kids and startle them when they round the corner. Notice the beauty in the small moments because those are the moments that make up your life. Trust and know that God is in the midst of the chaos and dirt.
When we live expectantly, we choose to do things wholeheartedly. We break monotony with new things, things that require our full attention and our whole hearts. We do things that make us forget to check our phone, things that help us forget there’s a whole digital world that normally demands our eyes. We commit to do things big-heartedly, deciding to be five times more grateful than we need to be and ten times more generous.
This year, like never before, may we boldly think about what could go right, and may our trust in God’s goodness manifest in living expectantly.
Emma Turnbull believes in the redemptive power of words, design and story. She is passionate about encouraging those who are adventuring through motherhood in all corners of the globe, and much of her work is fueled by knowing that radical transformation starts with radical invitations. She is the Director of Marketing for MOPS International.