To New Beginnings

While preparing for my trip with FPSM in November of 2016, I asked myself, “What are your expectations?” Expectations can give us hope and the possibility of a better life, even if it’s just for a day. It can also lead to assumptions. Well, I don’t think I need to state the old saying about assuming.

I have a terrible time with expectations. I expect my children and spouse to act a certain way. I expect friends to contact me. I expect my dog to follow his training when we see another animal on our walks. And when they don’t? Complete disappointment. Maybe irritability. I shut down, get in a bad mood, and climb into my introvert shell.

Being realistic was important to me. My goal was to allow God to break my heart so that, with his grace, He would start rebuilding it in the way He wants. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” [2Cor 12:9]   OK God, it’s yours.

It’s funny how my expectations disappear when I’m a stranger in a strange land. So is that cheating then? If it’s easier for me to surrender when I’m obviously not in control then am I being molded? The answer is YES. As a recovering perfectionist, I need to just say yes.

Over the 6 days we were in Milot and Cap-Haïtien, I listened, dug holes, nailed wire to a coop, laughed, cried, and just allowed. Allowed God to work, to talk, to shape. I struggled with things I saw and heard, felt lonely even though I was around people all the time, and got a minuscule glimpse into what it is like to have some people hate you when they don’t even know you.   Many of the people were either curious or grateful for our willingness to try and help, though some just judged.

Ah, judging. Another offense I’m good at, so could I blame them? I don’t judge in that obvious way though. I love my neighbor and strangers unconditionally. That‘s not always the story with some of the people closest to me. Here come those dreaded expectations again. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” [Luke 6:37] Ouch. His words convict me and build my hope all at the same time.

When it comes down to it, it just made me sad for them. I only have it better than them for one single reason, Jesus. Because even though they judged me without ever having spoken to me, they didn’t have evidence of a relationship with Jesus either. In a country where 50% of the residents follow voodoo, why would they?  And for that, I cried. I sat in a steaming hot minivan, wet and tired, and cried. My heart broken. Because without my relationship with Christ, I have nothing. [Romans 6:23]

So my New Year’s resolution came to me in church this week. My word this year is contentment. I resolve to try, with Christ’s strength, to be more agreeable, fulfilled and satisfied. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” [Phi 4:12] If Paul can learn, maybe this recovering perfectionist can too.

Written by Christa Zielinski