Several years ago, I was angry and resentful because I believed that my life was not playing out the way I expected. I had plans for my journey and I did not like the direction it was taking. Clinging to my expectations made me miserable and closed my mind off to the possibilities of wonderful detours.
Over the years, I have learned that life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned. Actually, the more we try to control how things will unfold, the more we block the flow from unfolding the way it’s meant to unfold.
Thinking about all the times that I focused on what was supposed to be made me recall a story a friend recently shared:
There once was a man who was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you."
The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God, and he is going to save me."
So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you."
To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God, and he is going to save me. I have faith."
So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety."
To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God, and he is going to save me. I have faith."
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!"
To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"
Releasing expectations does not mean that we abandon what we want, it means that we accept and embrace real life. As we liberate ourselves from our expectations and embrace our life more fully, we liberate ourselves from those feelings of disappointment, failure, shame, guilt, and overwhelm. And when we do that, we open ourselves up to infinite possibilities.