My Word of the Week: Expectation


ex·pec·ta·tion – noun \ ek-ˌspek-ˈtā-shən, ik- \

: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
: a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be


Last week, I flew to Dallas on a direct flight, and after that experience, I’ve sworn off all connecting flights for the future if I can help it. Flying direct is definitely the way to go. Not only did I have a direct flight, I scheduled plenty of extra time before and after each leg of the trip; the flight could be early, late, on-time. It didn’t matter. I had the time.

Giving myself a little extra time throughout the trip changed my expectations about how things would go, and I found the whole experience to be much less stressful than usual. It wasn’t that nothing went wrong. In fact, adding in the extra time was based on an assumption that things would go wrong. And a few things did: when we arrived in Dallas, our plane had to wait on the tarmac for about 30 minutes while we waited for a gate to open up. Then, after having a leisurely lunch, we initially went to the wrong hotel and lost about 30 minutes getting another shuttle back to the correct one. But none of it phased me. I expected things to go wrong. Everything was happening according to plan.

Now, go back a day or two before my trip to Dallas, about this time last week when I was writing here on my blog about how I expected to be moving into my new work schedule last Monday but that circumstances were making me wait a little longer. I’ll admit: I was frazzled. I had expected a seamless transition into a perfect new work life, and instead, I discovered that there were still scheduling conflicts, still hour-long car trips to run errands and meet with clients, still soccer games in the evenings and doctor’s appointments in the mornings. Somehow, when I imagined what my life would be like as a freelance contractor, I forgot to factor in . . . life.

So, as I made plans for Dallas, allowing a little extra time here and there to allow for the things that may go wrong, I realized that I need to change my expectations about the rest of my life, too. For one, transitions take time, and if I expect to go from employee to self-employed without a few glitches along the way, I’m going to be disappointed. But also, just because I’m now my own boss doesn’t mean I get to be the boss of everything and everyone. If I think I’m going to have complete control over every aspect of my life just because I work for myself, well, I don’t even have a word for what those poor expectations will produce.

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Mostly, I know that even my expectations about my expectations may need to shift. I can’t even imagine all the ways that God may surprise me in the coming days or all the ways in which I might feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. I’ve been there before. I can’t plan for these things. I can’t live with a contingency plan for every worst case scenario. In the end, even the most realistic expectations can’t prepare me for everything. Only God can.

So, I trust Him, and expect the worst.

Just kidding. (About expecting the worst, that is.)

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WORD COUNT: 549

Photo by Bert Kaufmann, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.