In the past, I have looked forward to things like vacations and parties and date nights with unrealistic expectations. I used to hop from one event to another like they were the things sustaining life for me. I thought if I could make it through the tedium and monotony of the weekly chores and schedule, and just get to the date night at the end, my tank would instantly be refilled, my life would have new meaning and I would be able to endure until the next event. I realize now that it's not the big events that sustain life, it's all the little things we do in between...attending church, making dinner, driving kids from one place to another. I missed a lot of the meaningful little pieces of life always looking for those big, potentially life-changing events.
When we planned this extended Utah vacation, I decided I wasn't going to have grand expectations. I was cautiously optimistic about coming back to this place we've been away from for almost a year. I didn't want to expect anyone to be overjoyed to see us. I didn't want to assume that people would drop everything to hang out with us. What I mostly wanted out of this trip was a chance to take advantage of every possible opportunity to connect with people, and catch the things I missed the first time around. At the end of three weeks, I think I've done that. I walked every morning with my father-in-law and had some of the best conversations I've ever had with him. I said YES to exercise classes and lunches. I dropped in on a few people who weren't expecting me and we had a great time catching up. I was available to cheer for soccer games, ride on rope swings, go for walks with my kids, and help people when they asked. I made a conscious effort to connect with the people who are most important to me and to leave room to fit in unexpected things, too.
There were some things on the invisible list in my head that I didn't get to do. I didn't hike Mendon Peak or the trail to Old Ephraim's Grave. I didn't get to go out on my brother-in-law's boat. (I was totally going to try the wakeboard this time!) I didn't take my kids to Lagoon. I didn't connect with any of those many families from Texas who are also out here for the summer. But I did do a LOT of great things that weren't on that list.
And it turns out that I did actually have pretty high expectations for this trip, even though I fought really hard against that. But I also realized this month that sometimes expectations are a good thing. "High expectations are the only way to arrive at that place we yearn to be someday in life." (I borrowed that quote from one of my favorite blogs.) There is a difference between the expectations that I had for this trip and the ones I've had in the past. This time, I didn't expect things to be perfect. I didn't expect a party or a date night to change my life. I didn't expect the whole world to love absolutely everything I did. I didn't expect my children to be perfectly behaved or to be excited about everything I suggested. Instead, I expected more from myself and less from everyone else. I expected to keep commitments, to be where I was supposed to be, and to do what I was supposed to do. And when I did those things, I expected to hear the voice of the Spirit regularly and often. And by acting on those things that I heard, I was fulfilled in a different way than I have ever been before.
There are very specific things that I yearn for, not just for myself, but also for my family. And I know that the only way those things will be possible is if I have high expectations. There are wildly improbable goals out there waiting to become realities and it is my ridiculously high expectation that that is entirely possible.
I'm grateful for a wonderful trip to Utah, for the time and the ability to make it happen, and for all the new memories I have of Mendon that I can add to my existing ones.