Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Balancing My Expectations

Often, I compare my marriage to a contra dance. My husband and I don’t waltz in perfect step. Instead, we go about our own business each day and reconnect by phone or at the dinner table or at work or with the children off and on throughout the day. Different people need us for different reasons, but we begin and end each day by facing one another.

When we were first married, I was unreasonably disappointed, because I expected our marriage to be a waltz where we would work together in closely timed steps. Now I know that we are trustworthy dance partners who must be apart—but will return at the appropriate time.

As difficult things happen in life, we wrestle and debate and struggle together within our family, but before the larger community, we present a united front. Just like generals who disagree about tactics but agree on the objective, we don’t need to give the enemy intelligence that allows him to capitalize on our weaknesses. So we fight over politics but vote the same way at the voting booth. We disagree on how to spend money, but the car dealer only knows that we are in confident agreement. We disagree on how the kids should be raised, but they know Mom’s answer is Dad’s answer and vice versa. We may argue over how to follow Jesus, but we attend church as a family.

Teaching children is no different. In Classical Conversations, we meet as a community, hear new ideas, watch our children struggle and succeed, view other parenting styles, argue over philosophies and approaches, encourage one another to support our pastors, study academics, and decide where to put resources for service and community care. In the midst of the difficult task of discipling our children within a community, I may feel let down or neglected and even get angry or cry.

I could make the same analogy to my church or my community association or my place of employment. It is not good to believe that work or school or marriage or any human institution will always be there for me in exactly the way I want. In order to behave as an adult, I recognize that differences and challenges will arise that make me feel uncomfortable, and then I pray for the wisdom to honor God while resolving the conflict.

My husband will disappoint me; my children’s tutor will be unfair; my employees will disagree with me; my neighbors will insult me, and my children will disobey me. I may try to understand why these things happen, but mostly I will overreact, gossip, and feel rejected. With Paul (see Romans 7), I admit that I do what I wish I would not do. So, I’m trying to learn the difference between having high standards and having realistic expectations.

To lead a healthy life, a God-honoring life, it is important to put the things to which I am committed in their proper perspective. Only Jesus is perfect. Only He is my Savior. He is the only one with whom I will ever truly waltz, because only He has the ability to keep us both in step. In front of our Father, He makes me look flawless.

Love, Leigh

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Leigh for your thoughts. You are truly an inspiration to me.