Great Expectations

I wrote this post back in March, just after my second term ended. I'm a bit older and wiser now, but the words remain relevant for me today - and, I hope, for you, too.

Before I moved to university six months ago, I had so many ideas and expectations about what university life would be like.

It would be full of stir fries and sweet potato stews made in my student kitchen, with the occasional brownie / mug cake thrown in.

I would join a dance club, go to the gym regularly and take long walks during my study breaks.

I'd have co-ordinated stationery and I'd never find myself without TippEx again.

I would have made a great group of friends by the end of my second week and we'd do everything together (with Facebook photos for proof).

I'd have time to read for pleasure, to finish my photo album, and to go wandering the streets of Cambridge in search of quaint coffee shops.

You don't have to be a genius to guess that many of these things didn't happen. It is only now, after two terms, that I have started to find the balance between work and play, and I am still in the process of discovering how long I can work for in the evenings before I fall asleep and my essays stop making sense.

However, underneath my rather trivial expectations above lie some deeper, more important hopes.

For example, I hope to find out what I want to do with my life.
Maybe I'll meet my future husband.
I'll discover who I truly am - what I like, what I dislike, what clothes I like to wear, what social activities I like to do.

And when these things don't seem to be slotting into place, it can be so easy to get discouraged. If my expectations haven't been met by now, will they ever be sorted?

We can put so much pressure on ourselves to make our life look how we imagine it to be that we sometimes stop ourselves from appreciating it as it is. I'll be the first to admit that expectations and aspirations are important - they're what drive us forward, what motivate us - but not when they become so rigid that you can't see past them.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that we need - I need - to be more flexible in our approach to life. Life doesn't always go to plan, and our lives don't always match up to our expectations. But worrying about it when it doesn't go our way doesn't bring any benefit; it only stops us from enjoying the good things.

Matt Redman, a well-known Christian song-writer, writes about finding 10,000 reasons to praise God - even in the hard times. Even when things aren't going our way. He sings about finding hope in all circumstances; about thanking our Creator for  giving us one more day to experience His goodness and infinite love.

It takes courage to let ourselves go and live in the moment. It will take a while for me to get used to resting in God's arms, safe in the knowledge that even when I don't know what I'm doing, God does. 

It's a work in progress. But then, if our lives were perfect, and our aspirations fulfilled at a touch of the button, there would be very little fun in it.