This post is a little different than I had intended, but I was compelled by an experience I had this week. I hope you’ll bear with me.
Something falls short for all of us. The bank account is too tight. Our spouse’s personality could use a little tweaking. Our job isn’t making any of our dreams come true.
But do those things really fall short? What do they fall short of? Your expectations? Your parents’ expectations? American society’s expectations? God’s expectations?
I received a good dose of that a couple nights ago at the local superstore. Nearly five years ago,as a first year graduate student, I married my hard-working husband, and he gently (and repeatedly) taught me that I could not walk through the grocery store grabbing all of whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. And I’m embarrassed to say it, but that felt like a sacrifice to this spoiled middle class girl. That felt like being poor. (I know–I’m cringing at myself, but honesty is my policy here.)
Two nights ago, I was hiding my tired face underneath a baseball cap and browsing the baby aisles (alone! baby at home with husband! alone!) when I met another young mother. She was wondering if I knew which baby foods she could buy on the government program meant to provide women and kids with nourishment. Later, as I pulled out onto the wet highway, I saw her again, this time walking along the shoulder of the road, toting her bags.
And I wanted to sob. Suddenly I was burdensomely rich. A warm car, healthy food for my baby, top-of-the-line carseat in the back, not to mention a loving husband waiting at home.
And then I wanted to sob again as I realized that young woman has crushingly more than many other mothers around the world. There’s assistance for her. There’s a store she can make it to. There’s safe food and water on the shelves of that store. That’s not the case for millions of families trying to survive in the most desolate areas of our world.
It doesn’t take our problems away. But perspective can go a long way in changing our attitudes. It can make us question: where do these unmet expectations even come from, and are they worth being unhappy about?