Saturday, February 2, 2013


I wasn't really aware of expectations until I heard a sermon from our Pastor recently.  He started to talk about his expectations of the worship experience.  He said that he expected love, forgiveness, inspiration and healing from G-d1.  All of this was in stark contrast to my expectations -- I had virtually none.

Well, I had the most basic expectations.  I would participate in a worship ritual that would involve standing, sitting, and kneeling; speaking, singing and listening; learning, day dreaming, and socializing.  I expected nothing from G-d -- I never do.  He/She/It is this pervasive presence that simply exists out there, like air, sunlight and gravity.  I expect nothing ever from It, except that It Will Always Be There.

Expecting nothing from G-d isn't really a bad thing, actually.  I used expect scrutiny, criticism and punishment.  I spent several long years healing myself of those expectations.

I thought about Pastor's and my expectations often throughout the service and afterward.  I realized that the Pastor's expectations focused solely on what he expected to receive from the situation, whereas mine were mostly centered on what I was supposed to offer.

I need to psyche myself up for worship.  I have to "shake my sillies out" so that I can pretend to act reserved and normal, not contentious and weird.  For example, I expect that when the Pastor talks about some supernatural experience that a prophet supposedly experienced, I will have to suppress the urge to stand up and say, "Don't you think that Ezekiel had eaten something hallucinogenic to see that?"

Expecting to get something from every situation -- that's a Me-generation thing, isn't it?  It's like asking or thinking "What's in it for me?" all the time, don't you think?  Does everyone think this way?

Try this: go into the next situation expecting to give something.  It could be a trip to the store, a coffee date with a friend, a meeting at work.

At the store, don't think "I'm going to get everything I need on sale."  Think instead, "I'm going to help someone reach for a product on a high shelf."

At the coffee date, don't think, "I expect sympathy from my friend when I tell her about what my fool of a husband said to me last week."  Think instead, "I expect to say or do something that will deepen our friendship."

At the meeting, don't think, "I'm going to show off so that I can finally get a raise."  Think instead, "I will mention how hard my coworker worked to get his project to me on time and in perfect form."

Try just for today, just for the next hour even, to expect to make the world and the people in it better.

1Here I avoid referring to the deity by name in respect of the Jewish custom, even though I am Christian (or at least I started out that way).

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