For the second time this week I am breaking from my current movie blogposts leading up to the Oscars. I will go back to it next week, but with the loss of our dog, a brunch at my house and a big charity event at my daughter’s school this week other things have occupied my mind. Oh, and it’s Valentine’s.
Along with Valentines Day often comes unmet expectations.
We all want to be cherished, loved and treated special. And whether it’s Valentines or any other day, sometimes our loved ones succeed, sometimes they don’t…
Just as with any other desire… whether it be the desire to finish a task, get in a workout or enjoy a little “me” time, sometimes our day goes accordingly, other times it does not. Or, it may be the desire for our kids to obey and get along… for our spouse to help out… for things to go our way… for life to be easy. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not.
But here is the million dollar question: How do we react when those expectations and desires aren’t met?
Answer: Depends on what is ruling us!
Let me tell you how this played out in our house recently. Finally a Friday after a long, busy week, I was looking forward to a catch up day and sitting down to write. That was until I called in to my retail job to discover they needed me to work. Ughhhhh!
Feeling stretched on time and frustrated with what all I needed and wanted to do, I went into overdrive to shew my last kid out the door so I could go get dressed. All the while, grumbling, complaining, even shedding a few tears to my husband. I wanted his sympathy; a simple acknowledgement of all I had on my plate and now couldn’t get done. My Desire.
Instead I heard about what all he had to do; how busy he was! Ughhhhh! Really, I didn’t care. And in my mind at the moment it seemed to pale in comparison to what all I had to do! Unmet Desire.
I went off to work, ran necessary errands, picked up kids, made dinner, etcetra, etcetera. Don’t let the smile fool you because I was less than joyous about it all.
The next morning, still bitter, I went out for a run and then it hit me… the very thing that had frustrated me with my husband was the same thing I was doing to him! Tracing it back to the desire ruling my heart I could see now that I was angry because he didn’t react the way I wanted him to. Therefore, I withheld giving him what he wanted.
This is how the cycle starts. Our ruling desires keep us self-absorbed and unable to give to others. But when we hold those desires in an open hand, instead of a clenched fist (as author Paul Tripp describes) our response changes.
The desire wasn’t necessarily the problem. Often times the desire (down-time, love, help) is totally fine and good, but takes a sinful downward spiral when we demand we must have it (clenched fist). Now that desire becomes an “idol” ruling our heart. On the contrary, grace permeates our hearts when we are able to let it go (open hand), die to self or give it up.
In the case with my husband, it took the Holy Spirit convicting me the next day to seek his forgiveness for demanding he love me perfectly the way I wanted to be loved that day.
Only God can love us perfectly.
And only by God’s grace can our focus be moved off self and toward loving others, even when they seem unloveable. Just as it’s only God’s grace that assures us that He still loves us when we fail. Resting in that grace and the freedom in Christ to admit and see our sin is ultimately what will change my desires.
So if you were hoping for roses and wine, literally or symbolically, for Valentines or any other day, ask God to help you hold your desires loosely. It’s the only way not to be disappointed. And the only way to see true love is dying and serving, not seeking to get!
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