Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Grief of Expectations

If you knew me in my every day life, you might know that I am grieving.

Actually, if you lived in my house, you might know this--I haven't really shared it with anyone but my husband.

The thing is, I am not really mourning anything that existed. I am not mourning an actual loss. Strange, right?

I remember grieving when my grandfather passed away, and then both of my grandmothers. That was this grieving encapsulated in fond memories, the knowledge of all that life finally laying down to rest. That was an expected grieving.

We all expect to grieve the loss of those near to us.

But I didn't expect this grief in my present time.

I didn't expect to grieve such a self-inflicted pain. I am grieving the expectations that have suddenly lost their hold on me--the false hope that has gripped me all these years as a mother.

I remember holding my little son in my arms after that first hour of his life. So many expectations for him, but mostly for me as his mother. And over these years, expectations have been borrowed, imposed, forced, and strived for.

Now, he's fourteen, and most days, I want to crawl in a corner and grieve the shattered pieces of all that expectation for something that will never be. I am not the mom I want to be. Everything is different. It's like I am waking up to someone else's life. And I don't know what to do with it.

Expectations are these tricky things. They kindle hope and excitement when first born in the mind of the dreamer. Now, those expectations are stabbing me with their pointy shards and reminding me that they were more toxic than real. In my grief, I step out of this dead shell and realize that those expectations are just trapping me.

I felt this way last year as an author, when I realized that the book I'd put so much hope in--and even my identity in--to be quite honest--was going to sit stagnant for a good long while. It would NOT be my starting point into a best-seller's career. It would not define me as I may have thought--it was not my entry into the publishing world.

Oh but I just LOVE that story. My heart skips a beat every time I dwell on the plot, and the character, and the theme. Just like my arms tingle when I catch a glimpse of my children fitting the shape of that broken expectation, even for a brief moment.

Expectations are horrible, wonderful things. For the even-tempered, they are nice gauges. But for the over-emotional, wildly-dreaming, perfectionist me, they are my greatest life-stealer.

Do you have a book that is lying there, in a grave of unmet expectation? Is this whole writing thing nothing you hoped for and now you're stuck trying to find breath again?

You aren't alone. It's a tough place to be--this side of dead expectations. I remind myself that I need to wipe away the tears that I've shed as a very fallible mother and wake up to this reality. My life isn't starting over, it's growing toward authenticity and assurance that I can't do this thing alone. God's given me children who are gifts in a different way than I could ever expect. And God's given me to my children. He knows what's ahead, and my only hope (expectation) is in His willingness to guide me and fill in the gaps.

And, oh...there are so many gaps that I leave as a very human mother.

It's just the same as those stories we love. If there is anything we need to expect, it's for the grief to end and new life to begin in a new story with a new purpose. And that God's got this. Our only hope is Him, because He's our breath of inspiration, right? So why do we fall in love with the story more than the Creator of the inspiration? Those crazy human expectations just need to die.

Walking away from the season of mouring, I must place my hope in an ever grace-filled God, knowing that in Him, my future for myself and my family is secure. And I place my hope in His will for that story. While my own expectations for it are gone, the story's not a loss. Just waiting for a gap to be filled.

Just like yours.

All in His time--The only true expectation.

Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she writes historical, historical romance, and dabbles in contemporary romance. Her debut historical romance novel, published by Barbour, will come out in November 2017, and her Harlequin Love Inspired Historical novel comes out in Spring 2018. Angie is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Come hang out with me on social media!
Twitter: @angiedicken


Katie Sweeting said...

This is absolutely the perfect blog post for me today. My agent wrote me yesterday that after sending out *** proposals for my first book with no contract, it is "probably time to focus on your next book." He was trying to be kind, and I knew it was coming, but man oh man did it hurt. I have also had expectations of my three sons - mine not theirs.
Thank you for your transparency and honesty. I needed this today.

Pepper said...

What a real post - one born of hurts and hopes and hunger for a solid footing. I love this authenticity because we are all human.
We all grieve and nearly-drown from guilt and false expectations.
And those can come in all shapes and sizes. Kids, marriage, book-dreams, friend-dreams...

Thank you for sharing this and for pointing us back to the GREATEST hope in the middle of the shattered expectations. The Mender of broken dreams and creator of new ones.

We ALL have false hopes and upended dreams, no matter our pristine our veneer. I'm so thankful God, in his mercy, takes off our false shine and provides his glow of hope and a future that doesn't fade with the weight of our mistakes.

Love you

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

This truly resonated. I needed this so much. Thanks for being transparent and vulnerable. You're not alone in this <3

Robin E. Mason said...

Oh, Agie, I.feel.your.pain. My kids are now 34, 36, and 38 (how DID that happen—they're all older than me!! LOL) So many things and so many ways I "failed" them as they were growing up, and nothing is what I thought it would be. BUT GOD. He told me not long ago that I did not fail them, I equipped them (taught them The Word)
and I know Father has you and your kids and your journey in His hands.
Peace and Joy my friend

Jennifer Major said...

Oh honey.
We are soul sisters.
I totally understand.
Lovely post!

Angie Dicken said...

I love that you understand me! Thanks for reading, Jennifer.😘

Angie Dicken said...

Thank you, Robin, you are always so encouraging.😊

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Amy!! Mama writers unite!

Angie Dicken said...

It makes All this worth while to know that we have a hope greater than this world can offer. Aaaah. Need to rest in that.

Angie Dicken said...

Katie, those are difficult words to hear...and actually, the words are very similar to what I was told when I realized the book
I mentioned needed to be tucked away. Thank you for sharing! I also have three sons...oh it's so hard to not be hard on ourselves, isn't it? Mama of boys---tough but worth it. :)