The pen is mightier than the sword and my pen has been powerful for as long as I can remember. While my mom could produce some highly opinionated notes I sent to the cheapskate Tooth Fairy (Seriously? A quarter?), my earliest memory of a strongly worded composition is one provoked from what I felt to be a sub-par public school lunch.
The issue? The 3rd graders of Ledgeview Elementary appeared to be receiving more chicken nuggets than the 4th graders. A full lunch period of shooting my mouth off got me elected to be the one to compose a comment card so biting that as soon as I dropped it in the comment box I immediately feared expulsion. For a solid month I was so overwhelmed with fear that Principal Radi would call my house, that I took personal responsibility for becoming the family receptionist, intercepting any potential school communication that may jeopardize my grammar school career. I would jump out of the car and bolt into the house every day after school to delete the answering machine messages as every blinking light looked to me like a warning flare: “Pack your bags. You are going to juvey tonight.”
My mom just heard this story today so either Principle Radi had a good laugh over that note (while snacking on hoarded nuggets I’m sure) or it is decomposing in the unchecked comment box at a little elementary school in the sleepy suburbs of Buffalo, NY.
4th grade, my earliest transcribed angry letter. 4th grade, first documented reaction to an unmet, seemingly reasonable expectation.
I have high expectations of myself, other people, employers, brands, churches, leadership, etc. I’ve received so many unmerited blessings in my life, that when anything short of excellence occurs it’s inevitably met with disappointment. I’ve had a lot of success in my schooling and had such interesting early career opportunities, high expectations are only a given for my next steps. The abundant blessing of family and a core group of friends who consistently go so far above and beyond, has skewed my reality of what is “normal” in relationships. I’m only beginning to realize that to me, blessed beyond measure = disappointment with all shortcomings.
I’m disappointed a lot – friends don’t show up or fail to make me the priority I make them, employers fail to provide opportunity to grow, life opportunities (or lack thereof) pass me by or fail to carry the pomp I thought they would. Makes me wonder, is my disappointment self-inflicted? Is it wrong to have high expectations in the first place?
Don’t get me wrong – blessed beyond measure is not something I‘ve ever taken lightly. For me, “To whom much is given, much is required” is a taunting call to personal excellence. I’m harder on myself than on anyone or anything else. I have high expectations for my life, and I work really hard to make them reality. People have high expectations of me and I make it my job to deliver, how come people don’t do the same for me?
Trying to unpack my logic, I tried to apply the same reasoning to other issues…some Americans expect that just by being Americans, we have the right to be GIVEN health care. Well, no. As Americans we have the right to GO GET health care without the government interfering. Some Christians think that because all of His promises to us are “Yes” in Christ, we will always be comfy and happy. Again, no. Christ followers are guaranteed hardship. I’m not operating under the disillusioned state that I DESERVE something I’m not willing to also work for, or to have my character changed through challenging circumstances.
Or am I?
It was Luke 6 that laid me out in lavender this week. Instructing us to love our enemies, do good to the peeps that hate and curse us, pray for the roommates who kick you out just because they “need more space.” Give to EVERYONE who asks you, let them take your stuff if they want it. DON’T EXPECT IT BACK. Lend them money. DON’T EXPECT IT BACK. I’ve been so caught up in the previous verse about do to others as you would have them do to you, I’ve failed to recognize that the passage really says: be easy on people. If I offered you cash, in a million years, I would never expect it back. I’ve already considered it a gift. BUT, I would expect your loyalty to me, your friendship. But not Christ’s words in Luke. Don’t expect any return for your kindness.
Why? Because Christ is so kind to the ungrateful (um, me? See previous post) and so merciful to the wicked (read upcoming posts) and because I’m a Christ follower, striving to be like Him. He is so merciful to me, and I so don’t deserve mercy. Luke 6:38 says “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Yikes. I’m such a debtor to Christ, any grudge I could hold to an earthly debt against me, person or circumstance, would be my dooms day.
All of this to say…never short me on nuggets. Ever.