Expectations of a Wandering Soul

Life is full of expectations that we fill our minds with.  Our society whispers in our ears.  Experiences tell us something different.  We read things and jump to conclusions.  We enter into someplace new and we expect to see things, be treated a certain way, do what we thought we should do.  And how many times are our expectations shattered by reality. 

When I first ventured to the dark continent of Africa, I expected to see the war-torn country side, starving children and lines of refugees in need.  I was warned about the horrors of Africa and the violence that had swept through Uganda.  In my head, I was picturing bands of roving soldiers, shouldering AK-47s and RPGs as I worked in a small medical clinic surrounded by those in need. 

The reality of the situation struck me across the face harder than the shock of stepping out into the humidity and heat.  In a way, the truth was harsher than all my fears.  We were met by hundreds of reaching hands of children, laughter and celebration.  We were surrounded by immense beauty and utter darkness. 

My expectations fell to pieces in those first few days as I began to take each day as they came.  I knew I couldn’t expect anything because God had other plans. 

When I returned to Africa the following year, again I brought expectations of what I would be doing, what I would see.  I expected to venture back into that darkness that threatened to swallow the light.  I expected to be able to tell the stories of the crew aboard the M/V Africa Mercy as I worked beside them, serving them. 

Again I was floored by the humbleness that surrounds service.  Instead of darkness, I found the great light of joy that radiated out of both the crew and those whose lives we touched.  I found then that although I was unable to find the words to tell the stories of the crew, I found the voice of my own soul that cried out to tell a story of its own. 

I returned to the states and immediately set out on a new adventure with AmeriCorps.  Where I expected to find myself lost within my own struggle of adjusting from my time overseas, I found individuals who had never been away  from home.  I was a pillar of strength for them, just as they grounded me in reality. 

As the storms of summer swept through the midwest, my expectations for the year, rejoining the fire management team, were swept away with the rushing winds that slammed into St. Louis and Joplin.  And even my expectations of those disasters were crushed by the endless fields of devastation that I found myself in. 

I had expectations that people had the same work ethic as I did when I joined the workforce this past year. 

I expected to be able to comprehend my journey into words.

I expected others to understand all that I had seen and been through. 

And yet even after all of my prior expectations had been shattered, I entered into this year with AmeriCorps*NCCC – FEMA Corps filled with expectations.  And like a slap in the face, time and time again, these expectations come crashing back to reality. 

I have found myself laying there at night, questioning myself time and time again.  I look at my team and ask myself if I truly have the courage to lead. 

I don’t know what I expected this year.  I expected it to be easy, but each day it is a struggle to rise in the morning and face the day with enough encouragement to keep my team from falling apart under the stress that we find ourselves in.  I expected to find the same people tha work on the Denver campus here in the Southern Region, but the brutal reality is that each campus is different, run under a different set of their own expectations.  The program may be the same, but the people are like night and day. 

I am brutally honest with myself because I know that I cannot keep up the lie that everything will run smoothly.  The road is full of potholes, rocks and speed bumps (and I’m not just talking about the road leading to my housing).  There is, and will always be, struggles that we must face, but most of them, if not all, will be found within ourselves. 

In the past several years I have found one expectation that has never changed, and that I will keep with me until my time here fades away:  God will guide my feet to where I am supposed to be.

We will always have expectations, its human nature, but we must learn to see past them and take thing for what and how they are, not how we want them to be.  When we are finally able to do that, our eyes will be opened. 

God Bless and PEACE


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