The violin and the piano are both stringed instruments but they give off different sounds, they have different ranges and playing them requires different skills. But if you expect a violin to sound like a piano, if you rail and abuse the violin accusing it of being wrong for its sound you’ll get no where. The violin has a sharp sound made by a bow being carried across the surface. The piano has little cushions which hit a group of identical strings and the sound is muted. Asking a piano to sound like a violin makes no sense either. If you expect this and spend your life blaming the piano for being so obtuse, your doctor will say you are certifiable and have you put under observation. You cannot change the basic nature of an inanimate object. To do so leads to an unhappy life of false expectations.
But this is what we do with people. Years ago I played bridge with a man who had four divorces and a current wife. He was successful financially and I am sure this has something to do with a lifetime of mistakes, because people who are successful at one thing think they must be successful in everything else, but instead he thought he had married three wrong women. He had not, of course. He had failed to change in the presence of three women in the state of marriage. It may come as a surprise to some people to realize that God ordained marriage because He knew that to make marriage work everyone involved would be required to change – hopefully for the better.
We do not start out as mature and developed human beings. We are given a set of genes – some of us may be violins, others pianos, and other even oboes. But we have a chance to make ourselves into what God wants because we are made in His Image and have that guarantee that it is possible to use our 70-odd years on the planet for our benefit. Many parents try to make bass drums out of guitars and they are disappointed in their children, and the children will usually leave home early. False expectations can impact everything.
Parents must not over-guide children
I had a friend, a Catholic priest, who went into the ministry at the insistence of his parents; he did not belong there and left. We must find God’s proper path and as parents not make assumptions and provide false expectations for our children or ourselves. It can only lead to grief.
If we expect our life to be calm and peaceful, we might think we were born in the wrong place. It is not uncommon for children to believe they were switched at birth, or the wrong gender, or the even that they had past lives and they just got unlucky with this one. To them we say, you were made in the image of God and look to Him to define you – not the world, and not your own fantasies. He will be right, and you will flounder. Some will go so far as to say God does not exist at all!
All disappointments come from false expectations. My husband took a college course in marriage because his parents’ marriage was so unhappy. I took no such course and had no such expectations, and I was happy, and he was disappointed. The book didn’t talk about a financial blow, an auto accident, a miscarriage, a lost job, or the sudden death of a parent because marriage like all of life is lived in the context of other people and events quite outside our jurisdiction. No one anticipates an auto accident or the opioid addiction that resulted. You are not doomed to live like that forever. And you cannot control other people; and you can barely control yourself.
Self-effort can not provide happiness
My husband believed he could, through his own effort, guarantee himself a happy life. Children who grow up in war zones, badly abused or terrorized, may grow up believing that no matter what they do they are doomed to misery. Both expectations are wrong. How you deal with life determines the end, not your plans. Disappointments happen but how do we react? The refusal to change will lead to new trouble. Please do not place unrealistic expectations or goals on your children. Seek God for what they need in terms of preparations.
Reaction to the Pandemic
21,000 North Carolina children did not attend a single day of at-home distance learning, more than the entire student body at our largest public university. Our colleges are now faced with students who aren’t prepared and will not be getting key scholarships either for academics and for sports.
The pandemic of 2020 forced millions of people world wide to change. But did they? In Florida children returned to school without incident and graduated with their class. In other states, there were no classes and lives were fatally disrupted. Some children commit suicide. Alcohol and child abuse figures increased. Other parents sold their houses and moved to another state to provide schooling for a child or just a better job.
Your life is how to handle crises
The person born in Russia between 1917 and 1989 was doomed forever to live under a deprived communist society unless he was politically successful and even that was limited. Because God is not going to changes circumstances. He gives you the chance to be all that you can be wherever you are, now, today.
His goal is to change you into the image of His Son. If that sounds far farfetched, it’s in His Book. Our 70 year lifetime is but a brief time as a member of the human race. We are born from eternity. It says in the Bible that we were created before the foundation of the world, that is we has a preexistence in heaven with God and when we die we are supposed to go back there, if we prepared for the next life properly.
Learning to embrace change
God does not tell us what to expect in life precisely because we are to live life in faith. If we knew the end beforehand, that would not be faith. We are to trust and obey. People often marvel that Down’s Syndrome children always seem so naturally happy. Their lack of sophistication is the product of being closer to God and less resistant to His call to us to obey him. They do it naturally.
There is a popular camp song out there that annoys me.
Nonsense. You are not happy all the day every day. That is a false expectation. Yes, your burdens are lifted, and yes, life has changed but there are problems, there will be problems and you will learn the joy of the Lord in those days, both the good ones and at bad. God provides both.
Denial of Reality is common
It is a given. For a successful life you must deal with reality and more often than not, reality is not what you think it is.
So the song is “It’s me, It’s me oh Lord – not my father, not my mother, not my sister, not my brother- standing in the need of prayer.” Let God change you. He’ll do a better job.
The Ministry of the Watchman – An observer on the wall sharing a report of what God is seeing and doing in the world at large and also in the congregations of His people. Cornelia Scott Cree, Watchman, Change Agent, Essayist.
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