An excited dog? Maybe. Seemed to fit. :)
Excitement. The feeling generally goes hand in hand with anticipation. In fact, sometimes those two words are even synonymous.
There are so many things that can cause excited anticipation; holidays, a baby, visits from friends, a new book, a wedding, a promise of a gift, a vacation… (No, these are not in any particular order.) Life is usually peppered with things that can lend excitement to the ordinary day.
But there’s the other side of the coin. It’s called disappointment.
When whatever it was that you were looking forward to, doesn’t happen for whatever reason, disappointment rears his ugly head. Depending on the circumstances, it might not just be disappointment; you might be facing grief and heartache.
Sometimes, it seems like every excitement ends in disappointment somehow or in someway. Every happy anticipation ends with a dark raincloud. It isn’t necessarily true, but it feels like it. You get sick just as the holiday begins; you’re friends can’t make it; the vacation gets canceled; the list can go on.
There was a girl who saw life like this. She knew every anticipation didn’t actually end in disappointment, but too many things that she’d counted on fell through. Too many times did she get excited, only to see her excitement shatter into bits of glass. So, she made up her mind that excitement was over rated. She could live without it. No longer would she let herself get excited about anything, if she could help it, until whatever it was actually happened. She tried to drop her expectations to nothing, just waiting to see if anything actually happened.
At first it worked. At least, she thought it did. Disappointment didn’t hit her nearly as hard when she almost pretended the event wouldn’t happen. After all, nothing changed. Logic dictated that, since she hadn’t been counting on the event anyway, she couldn’t feel anything in regards to that event no longer occurring.
Then, one day the girl sat watching a nine-year-old dance around with excitement and she realized what she was becoming. She was becoming a cynic. She, who had once counted the days to simple things like birthday dinners and visiting friends or family. She, who used to dream about the holidays and couldn’t wait to drive around looking at Christmas lights. It might not happen, so why get excited about it? How many times had the thought crossed her brain? How many times had it escaped her lips? And just how far was she willing to take it?
She didn’t change, that girl. Soon after she began to realize this, plans changed on her and her life took a turn that she didn’t like. She shook her head and tried to stuff any excited anticipation down farther than ever. She ignored the whispering reminder and tried even harder to run from anything that might give her disappointment, because disappointment hurts whether we like it or not, and she didn’t want to live through it.
Then, one day the girl sat listening to a little boy chatter excitedly about an upcoming event. And she saw what she had become. We don’t know it will happen for sure. We don’t know the future. Hopefully it will happen, but I’m not counting on it, just in case. Because I don’t want to be disappointed. I’ll get excited if it actually happens.
That girl? She is me. I’m the cynic. I’m the one who used to get such joy out of waiting for something to happen, who now does her best to keep a straight face for fear that whatever I’m excited about, won’t come to pass.
I’ve let myself change into a girl who has a hard time even planning for a birthday or company, because I’m afraid something will happen to spoil it. What if they don’t like the gift? What if they can’t come? I don’t want to be disappointed.
My little brother runs up to me, filled with childish glee, telling me what he’s going to do when our friends come over tomorrow, and I just look at him. I manage to smile and say “Hopefully!” Then I bite my tongue before I add the inevitable thought, As long as they actually get to come.
I’m a cynic. And you know something? It’s exhausting.
What’s more, there is one very prominent word amongst all of this. Can you see it? The word is “I”. I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want to get hurt. So, how far am I going to take this philosophy? When, LORD willing, I’m engaged and my wedding draws near, am I going to refuse to get excited for just in case something happens to post-pone the wedding? Am I going to refuse to rejoice about a baby, for just in case the unthinkable (but possible) happens and my child dies?
And what about everyone around me? What about my little brother, when my pessimistic clouds cover the sunshine of his excitement? Am I thinking about anyone except myself?
The answer is no. I don’t want to be hurt or saddened or disappointed, so I’m shielding myself. But you know? It goes even deeper.
I’m not trusting.
I’m not trusting the LORD. If whatever it is that I want to happen doesn’t happen, there must be a reason. I need to trust Him. Yes, it’s disappointing and yes that may be a trial, but what am I supposed to do in a trial? Consider it all joy. Somehow, I don’t think that becoming Eeyore is the best way to practice joy. Not to mention, killing the anticipation, robs me in part, of joyful participation when the event really does come to pass. I keep expecting the next minute to change into a disaster. Maybe someone will get sick ten minutes after the party started. Maybe the book is going to turn out terribly on the next page. Maybe we’ll have to turn around and go home before the vacation even gets started. Trust. I need to trust.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
That path may not look the way I think it should look, but He knows best and I need to remember that. I need to take joy in the small things, look for the blessings, and stop turning anticipation into a dreaded thing. I need to let Him be in control and cast my cares at His feet. And let myself be excited at the simple things. If they don’t happen, it’s okay to be disappointed or even sorrowful. But, consider it all joy, and keep going, trusting that He is sovereign.
So tomorrow? I’m going to get up and be excited as we clean and shop and get ready for our friends to come visit. Yes, I’m scared to let myself do that. But I’m going to trust and I’m going to pray. Then I’m going to praise the LORD for the opportunity to prepare and let Him be in charge of what follows. Because He is sovereign and on the throne, always knowing what is best.
To the KING be all the glory!