Each morning, as Chris and I sit in the sunroom for quiet time, we see a couple jog by our house. They do the same small loop over and over, getting faster each time. They start out walking and, by the end, are both running.
This morning I sat on our front stoop with my coffee, letting the humid, morning air press against my skin as I read my bible. I saw them coming and smiled at the familiarity of these people who don't know me. They smiled back and I wondered if, perhaps, they expect us each morning just as we anticipate them.
A good friend of mine always says she doesn't like the Fourth of July because there is too much external pressure. She'd be happy going to a baseball game or watching fireworks at home, but she feels there are expectations to be on a lake or the beach and, when the Fourth rolls around, she feels disappointed by the holiday, without ever knowing that she'd had expectations for it. It's like waking up to a present you didn't expect, only to find it's an empty box.
Seasons of change - moving to a new city, dating, the early days of marriage or having a new baby - can be especially full of quiet expectations. Somewhere, deep down, a little voice is telling us that it should be rainbows and butterflies all time and we should be enjoying it more. Here are some of the things that little voice might say to us:
This should be more fun. I think everyone else is having more fun than this.
You should have more friends by now. Why don't you have a best friend here?
The early days of marriage are supposed to be sweeter than this. Why aren't you enjoying it?
Make the most of these newborn days! A lot of people can't even get pregnant.
A close friend is currently in a tough season of transition. Everything in her life has shifted in the last few months (from moving to getting married to a new job - literally, everything.) and she feels unsettled. She feels disappointed. She had high expectations for the start of her marriage and now she feels sad. She said she wants to kick and scream and throw a little tantrum because she doesn't feel like this is what she waited for all those years. Isn't it supposed to be better than this? That little voice is whispering, over and over.
I told her this season is going to develop so much empathy in her and, someday, she'll be able to walk alongside someone else as they go through something similar. She joked that she could have done without the extra dose of empathy.
The quickest way I've found to remove the intense pressure of certain seasons is to acknowledge the unmet expectations, as opposed to avoid them. For example, when the little voice says to you: I thought graduating college was going to be more fun than this. Why aren't you having fun? Your natural inclination might be to say: No, no, I'm having fun! Look, I'm drinking wine and watching The Bachelor! But, it's more productive to acknowledge the frustration by shedding light upon it: I thought it would be more fun, too. This is a little disappointing. And then, to practice grace, as opposed to shame: But, I'm doing my best to make friends and I am sure I'll settle into this season soon.
Give yourself grace. Take your time. Breathe into the season.
And, as my mom always tells me, on the days that are feeling the most out of control: take five minutes to organize your purse. It will always make you feel just a tiny bit better.