My dog and I are creatures of habit. He calculates what I’m doing next based on the clothes I wear. For instance, whenever I put on a skirt he knows I’m going to “church.” I’ll be gone for a while and he won’t be going with me. He barely lifts his head to say goodbye.
But when I put on any exercise clothing, he assumes that he’ll be participating on a walk or hike. He works himself up and runs around the house in anticipation. When I tell him he’s not going, he ignores that and still hopes for the best. When he sees that I’m about to leave without him, he sulks. His feelings are totally hurt. He’s disgruntled, and he mopes.
This morning, while experiencing my dog’s emotional highs and lows and wondering if I could take him to a yoga class, I thought about how similarly I react to Heavenly Father. When my anticipations build, and I’m expecting a specific outcome, I really expect that outcome. When it comes, I’m euphoric. When it doesn’t, I’m hurt, disgruntled, and I mope.
Ironically, I’ve noticed that usually the outcome I experience is often more interesting than what I expected. (Pretty sure that’s not the case for my dog, unfortunately, since he’s just left moping at home.) I’ve gotten better at not being hurt, disgruntled, and moping when things I anticipate don’t turn out the way I think they should.
Even if something doesn’t go as planned (which is the story of my life), I’ve learned to find the adventure and blessings in it. That attitude adjustment and approach changed my life.
One of the last plans I’ve really made happened when Anthony and I bought our last, fantastic home in Lubbock, Texas. We’d felt like we needed a change from our previously fantastic home. We found an amazing house that needed A LOT of work, but I figured we’d spend the time to make it ours and then just enjoy it forever more.
We’d been in the home for six months during this renovation. We’d flown our brother-in-law contractor in from Utah, knocked out walls, moved walls, built walls, removed popcorn ceilings, fixed floors, built stadium seating in the basement theater, painted nearly every room, refinished the pool, bought a gigantic, groovy riding lawn mower to mow the acre, redid a lot of the landscaping, bought furniture to fill the place, updated fixtures and lights, and decorated. We lacked a little painting in the 2 story entry way and in the pool area. But we were almost done.
Then, one day—right as we’re really finally able to enjoy the pool—my husband came home from a rough day at work. He wanted to quit his job and move to Hawaii. What? No! Not interested.
I’d moved my whole life. I finally felt settled. I’d put down roots and made substantial friendships. I now lived a mile from the temple and participated in ways that were deeply meaningful to me. I was happy.
He asked me to pray about it. AAK! Who wants to pray about something when your mind is made up?! The answer came that it would be fine if we moved and fine if we stayed. The decision was up to us.
With the idea becoming an option, Anthony lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. I realized how important it was to him.
I agreed to put the house on the market. I had a “test.” I felt like Gideon putting the fleece out and saying, OK, if only the fleece is wet, then I know. OK, once more, if the fleece is dry and everything else is wet, then I know. My test was if the house sold in a week, that would be my confirmation that the Lord’s hand would prosper our endeavor. This was in July 2010 during the housing crisis.
Our awesome Relief Society president was also a realtor. She walked through the house and we agreed upon terms. She explained that that in the current market, we realistically could expect the house to sell in 9 months. I told her that it would sell in a week.
We prayed for a family who would love and enjoy and be blessed by our house to find us. One week later, we signed the contract on the house. Within 6 weeks from the initial prayer, we said farewell to Texas.
Even though I missed Texas, the substantial friendships still remained, just enjoyed a little differently. And, wow, I fell head over heels in love with Maui, Hawaii.
From that moment on, Anthony and I became gypsies. Every moving adventure since that time increased my intense belief in the collective goodness of people and the generosity of the human spirit. I found willing smiles and open arms and forever friends I would have never met otherwise. Each of them helped me in some significant way.
Just because we moved around and met awesome people, saw amazing things, and had grand adventures didn’t mean that everything turned up rosy. The most important things have, but other expectations, big and small, hit the wall.
Little things– We still haven’t gotten our State of Hawaii tax refund for 2016!! They’re “behind.” And meeting cane spiders, flying cockroaches, and bitey centipedes kind of rocked our world.
Bigger things–When the government legalized Obamacare, we had to close our family business on Oahu because it couldn’t support the costs required. We took a big financial hit on it. And our beloved bulldog Wellington died super fast from a brain tumor. He was only 4 and his loss devastated us.
But despite heartbreaks of unmet anticipation, God’s plan for us—to live, experience, and choose joy—is an equation for ultimate success on every level.
“The confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. The scriptures often speak of hope as anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ,” is how hope is described in the Guide to the Scriptures.
The confident expectation of and longing for promised blessings through Jesus Christ. So if I am really confidently expecting the Savior’s promised blessings, my attitude about experiencing things I don’t expect or deserve should shift.
When Job lost children and flocks and friends, he refused to curse God. “Till I die, I will not remove my integrity from me.” He anticipated God’s ultimate promise. No thwarted expectation deterred him.
Sold into Egypt, Joseph found respect and purpose at Potiphar’s house. Maybe he thought he’d live there forever, or if it was an option, until he could buy his freedom. But Potiphar’s wife derailed Joseph’s plans. He emphatically refused her advances, saying “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
And Sarah–a beacon to my heart–startled by the promise to have a child when she was 90 years old, laughed. “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” asked the Lord. She bare Isaac.
Is anything too hard for my Lord? No. His anticipation, His work and His glory “is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” That means me and you.
I really believe He means what He says. And so when things don’t go my way or when I’m excited for something that turns out not to be for me, I remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord and I’m experiencing something to help me reach eternal life. It’s beautiful and hopeful. And I will anticipate that glorious promise “till I die.”
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.