The first question I prayed through is What are you anticipating?
Some things are really easy (and exciting!) to anticipate eagerly. I know right now I’m eagerly anticipating Christmas. I KNOW Christmas will be amazing with my family. That’s something I experience year after year, and I always look forward to celebrating. For me though, anticipating is a struggle. I’m very grounded in my expectations, and I often temper them to avoid disappointment. Nate and I are polar opposites in this way! I really struggle, because I’ve conditioned myself “not to get my hopes up.”
Right now we are in the advent season, which is about anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth, but also the anticipation of Christ coming back some day. That’s worth getting your hopes up for!
As I look back over my life, there were absolutely moments where I thought “well, this is a terrible, pointless experience.” Not true! Almost all of those moments I can look back to as a moment that God used in a big way. Not getting my “dream job” completely changed our family’s trajectory – for the better. If you would have told me that four years ago when I was sobbing and begging Nate to just let me go work at Taco Bell because I’d never amount to anything professionally (yeah, that really happened), I would have laughed in your face. I actually remember saying the words, “Nothing good will ever come out of this!” I know imagine that moment with God saying after that, “Challenge accepted!”
As I’ve grown in my faith, I have gotten better at eagerly anticipating God’s work in my heart and in my circumstances, but it’s still a big area of growth for me.
The picture below is one of my favorite pictures, ever taken. I know that probably seems ridiculous, but I’ll explain why. This picture was taken during the hardest month of my life. Right after Emmarie was born, it felt like everything I knew was being ripped from my hands with job changes, house changes, church changes, and more. And my instinct in that moment was to clench my fists and hold as tightly to everything that I could. To mourn losses. To permanently attach chips to my shoulder.
But as we put the For Sale sign up, we thought back to when we bought the house (only a year and half earlier), and I had excitedly posed with the “Sold!” sign. I don’t remember if I suggested it or Nate did, but we agreed we needed the same type of picture as we closed a chapter. I walked up to the sign, and Blakely followed. As Nate got ready to take the picture, he said, “GET EXCITED!”
And we did.
What if in the middle of all of our broken moments, we took a picture? Maybe not literally, but just paused in the moment to soak it in… and to eagerly anticipate how God will work through this, in our lives and the lives of others. A snapshot to say “look at where I was and look where God has brought me.” What if instead of crying and filling out Taco Bell applications, we pause and say,
“God, I know you’re with me in this. I anticipate that you’ll use ALL of my experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to bring glory to You, if I allow it.”
So as you and I pray through what we are anticipating and looking ahead towards, I have to quote Nate: