He didn’t see me roll my eyes as I spit the word out at his turned back. A forced cheerfulness acquired during my days at the coffee shop masked most of the hostility behind the word. I guess I was glad he held the door long enough for me and my friends to walk through, but I had to follow him all the way to the book store in traffic that wasn’t conducive to passing his slow, tan, ridiculous, never-once-used-his-turn-signal sedan.
I didn’t mean it, it was as reactionary as his holding the door was. Both of us had been trained in the practice of common courtesy, he just must have failed the driving portion of it. It didn’t matter, he walked straight toward the graphic novels while my friends and I made our way toward the periodicals, I’d hopefully never see him again.
Yeah, I don’t like all of my music . . .either?
Of course I didn’t mean it. I was being nice. It wasn’t enough that this ridiculous individual in front of me wasn’t driving the speed limit. That alone was enough agitation to bring about spontaneous combustion, but one of my buddies wanted to play DJ for our drive and couldn’t finish a song. Any tune would get ten seconds beyond the intro then he’d shake my ipod and half-smile at me, as if to say, “I’m sorry! I don’t like this!” I kept wondering, “Why on earth can’t he sit still long enough to finish something, by anyone?” I wanted to snap his neck- or at least banish him to the back seat where he couldn’t get on my nerves.
Oh, It’s alright. We can meet next week.
Tuesday? I can’t.
Thursday? I have church.
Saturday? I have plans with my family, but I really want to hang out,
we’ll make something work.
Of course he didn’t understand that I was blowing him off. I was honest about wanting to spend some time with my buddy, but it was the third time he “double-booked” himself and couldn’t make it. I was polite because that’s what I was supposed to do. I was mad as hell that I clearly wasn’t a priority and even madder that he continually wasted my time by trying to schedule times to be friends and hang out. If He didn’t want to socialize, then perhaps he shouldn’t have suggested it.
We’ve been trained that particular practices occur due to social acceptability and reinforcement. I think sometimes, we just come to expect them. We anticipate that someone will hold the door for us, that our friends will settle down when necessary and that people will keep their appointments unless an act of God prevents them. I see a sign indicating that traffic should move at 45 miles an hour, I instantly expect everyone to drive 50. Sometimes this expectation can morph into a sense of deserving not from merit but rather, because it’s just right. I keep my appointments, I try to avoid being a pain in the…
We lose any sense of gratitude when it happens. If our expectations fall to the ground in disappointment, we’re then rightfully pissed and have an offense to hold onto for hours. God doesn’t even escape the trap of acceptable behavior either. He said, “Ask, and it shall be given to you….” but my prayer hasn’t gotten any visible attention beyond my personal devotion for years. God isn’t doing His part while I’ve been faithful all the while.
Faith and expectation aren’t incredibly different. We expect God to do the things He does. It’s what we do with it that matters. Can we justify tossing out gratuitous expressions of gratitude and not have out hearts examined? Can our expectations be dashed on the rocks when God seems to stand around silently after one of our most fervent prayers? If so, can we uphold our being ridiculously pissed at Him after?
Obviously not. We just have to examine our motives and expectations and understand that faith isn’t necessarily getting what we want all the time.
I wanted to post this as part of the One word at a time carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley … but time constraints prevented that. Either way, go check out the other writers and see their amazing takes on this week’s theme, Gratitude.