Hi I’m Dr. Chris. Since 1894 we’ve celebrated National Labor Day every September with parades and picnics to honor the contributions the workforce makes to growth, productivity, and the well-being of the country.
We all embark on some kind of productivity in our life that is largely structured as “do this to get that”. Our successes reinforce our expectations that if we work hard enough we will be rewarded. It’s natural to expect some kind of a “payoff” for our efforts, though we all define payoffs differently. My definition changed when I tried gardening.
For years I had great expectations to grow big, red, juicy tomatoes. I tried planting them in gardens, in pots, from seeds, even fully grown bushes. I never got any tomatoes no matter what I tried. My expectations were unmet and I felt a little bit like a failure.
Where do expectations come from and how do they become so deeply ingrained in our pursuit of self-worth?
Parents, pastors, peers, and the voices in our head have persuaded us that if we do THIS we will get THAT. This can definitely motivate us, just as it can set us up for disappointment. And disappointment often begs the question, “Why risk being hurt or being a failure again?” Isn’t it easier, and safer, to lower our expectations or give up all together?
Well, here’s the secret I’ve found to dealing with disappointment. I’ve discovered a space in between what we expect and what we get. This space is mind-altering and life-changing. This space is called “NOW” – where we simply appreciate the life we have in that moment.
When we remember that our intrinsic value begins with who we are, and then is expressed with what we do, we are better able to enjoy this moment called NOW. This value is what God created in us and can never be taken away. It celebrates the journey of life. The phrase “Life is a journey not a destination” is found on t-shirts and coffee mugs.
It’s a really nice philosophy… I just don’t think we’re buying it yet.
I think we’re afraid that if we take our eye off the prize and actually start to enjoy the journey, we will lose momentum and live unambitious, ordinary lives.
Now, I LOVE meeting and exceeding expectations in life. But what happens when we don’t? Does the journey then seem like a mere consolation prize?
You will always feel like you’re settling for the journey until you claim it as a reward in of itself. Whether or not I end up with tomatoes, I’m savoring the moment called “Now” that gives me fresh air and friends with fresh produce at the farmer’s market.
Next time you’re enjoying a big red tomato, remember to begin each act of labor, or love, embracing the space between what you expect and what you get.