I have a relative who keeps my inbox loaded up with all of the current chain mail and jokes that circulate around the net. I sometimes feel like I have my own personal spammer. Thing is, I usually at least look at every one of those emails, because I never know when there might be something really good in there.
A couple of days ago she sent one purporting to be a dog’s letter to God. I’m a dog lover. We share our house with a couple of miniature schnauzers that earn their keep by protecting us from the neighbor’s “evil yellow cat.” And so I did laugh my way through this “letter.” It was filled with observations and questions such as “if a dog barks its head off in the forest and there’s no human to hear it – is it still a bad dog?” It gave a list of what a dog must remember in order to be a good dog: “The garbage collectors are not stealing our stuff” and “The cat is not a squeaky toy.”
As I continue to chuckle over the dog’s observations, it brings to mind the expectations we put on each other and ourselves. All those things I am expected to do or not do for others to see me as good. Don’t laugh at the wrong time. Mind your manners. Don’t let anybody know how I really feel – especially if that flies in the face of how others see things right now.
And the expectations that we have for each other are no easier. In Acts, there is great disagreement going on because some (most?) expect that for a newcomer to be a Christian, that person must have gone through all the steps of becoming a Jew first.
As I follow Acts, in many ways I see it as the beginning of the journey from pushing “my expectations” to “accepting God’s expectations.” And, so often they are so different. We expect rules, God expects relationship. I expect the syllabus for the class so I can figure out what I have to do to pass, God expects me to come to class and live the experience. I expect a map and a schedule. God says “Walk with me, talk with me. It’ll be a great adventure.”
It seems I’ll just have to continue to learn to let go of my expectations, slow down and learn to be in the present without a syllabus, a map or a schedule.