I sat with a friend planning her wedding, this beautiful Sunday afternoon. This has been a common outing for me this year; planning, attending, and being in weddings, that is. I will have been in 5 weddings, attended 10, and helped plan 7 in the last two years. It’s an incredibly joyful time of life for me and the people that I am close to. I have always been a little obsessed with weddings and the planning process. I have always looked at engaged women with envy as they show off their shimmery rings, make their well thought out excel spread sheets, and find that perfect white gown. As I planned with my dear friend today, her sister began giving advice on the expectations that we set for people. She said that we often expect people to react out of character during weddings or other big events.
For example I do not have a father that gets over the hill excited about anything…unless it has to do with some ridiculous gadget! (I think most dads are like this!) He just does not come pre-loaded with a personality that is filled with exuberance. I know this very well about my father. Yet I still expect him to respond with excitement when I tell him good news, but I find myself bothered and annoyed at his lack of expression every time. See I expect my father to act out of character in a special moment…but I can only expect him to respond within his character. I will almost always be disappointed if I put expectations on him that he cannot meet.
Similarly, I have imagined myself in various situations acting out of character; graduation, college, work, marriage, etc. Before I started college I imagined myself able to handle the stress, studying every night, and not needing the social aspect of school anymore. I saw myself as this grown adult who was ready to take on the world. My imagination was playing tricks on me! I wasn’t seeing who I was then in the situations that I was imaging. I was seeing this older and wiser woman walking through Fresno State’s halls. When I got to that school it felt different from what I had expected. I was still struggling with things I had struggled with in high school, I was still an extravert that didn’t know how to study, and I was confused as to why I felt so much younger than everyone else. In my mind I had imagining myself older and more mature; able to handle anything. But the truth is unless my character changes, I am who I am in every situation. No matter if the location, people or circumstance changes.
I listened to a podcast a few months ago from Jaimie Ivy (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PODCAST.) She had a special guest on the show talking about the transition from single woman to married woman. She explained that before she got married she imagined herself getting up early to make her husband breakfast, prepare an extravagant lunch, and have the house spotless by the time he was home….all while working a full time job. Once she got married she felt too tired to get up early to prepare breakfast, didn’t really feel like making his lunch the night before, and was way to busy to keep the house spotless everyday. She explained to the audience how she felt like an absolute failure. A failure as a wife, a woman….just a failure. She realized that she has never been a morning person and has never really enjoyed cooking. So why would her desires and character change now that she was married? There wasn’t something magical that happened at the alter to make her into a wife as soon as she said ” I do.” There wasn’t some special transfer that made her able to get up early when she slipped on that ring. She had to realize that she was who she was, even in marriage.
You do change in marriage…or so I’ve heard. You do learn how to be a wife, how to merge your life with another human, and how to communicate with someone who is now you’re person. You could even become a morning person in marriage if you wanted to. But the act of being married does not change who you are. The act of going to Fresno State didn’t change who I was. And the act of me turning 23 doesn’t change me into an adult. The experiences, prayer, people, and decisions we make change our character, not our new titles.
So I encourage all of you to work on who you are now instead of focusing on who you will be then. Our expectations can make or break an experience or relationship. Who you are and how you perceive life is more influential than a person or situation. Release the expectations that you have of people and yourself and learn to work with people’s character rather than against. You cannot control the way people react or how circumstances play out, but you can control your reaction.
“The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”
Also I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful picture of my new cousin Robyn from her wedding day! Sometimes God gives you things that are better than you could have expected and Robyn’s addition to our family was one of those.