Is It Possible To Live Without Expectation?

by Mark Votava


God has constantly shattered my expectations in life.  I want God to be this for me or I want God to work in me in this way that I have formulated myself.  This always leads me to frustration and a deformed hope is held onto.  I am learning to evolve, grow, live into my questions and embrace peace.

  •  Living with openness, receptivity and patience

When we practice contemplation as a way of life; we have to live with openness, receptivity and patience.  We need to understand the dangers of our expectations.  We need to understand the dangers in controlling the process of the mystical imagination.

  •  God develops life within us in ways we do not expect

This way of life is mysterious.  God develops life within us in ways that we do not expect.  We will constantly be upset or disillusioned if we put too much weight on the rationality of it all.

  •  Embodying a contemplative spirituality

We cannot live by our rationality if we are going to embody a contemplative spirituality of love and compassion in the world.  We cannot figure God out.  We cannot figure out the mystical imagination.

  •  Beginning right where we are

We are limited in our understanding of life most of the time.  To live out a contemplative spirituality we must begin right where we are in the place we inhabit without expectation and control.  We must live with openness, receptivity and patience.  There is nowhere else to start.

  •  No expectations, no achievements

Kathryn J. Hermes says, “To become a contemplative, one must simply start to contemplate.  I say simply because to begin to contemplate one must be able to honestly begin where one is; just start, and nothing more.  No expectations.  No achievements.  No stories to tell of wisdom gained.  One simply must just begin.  And after fifty years of contemplating God everyday, one must begin the first day of the fifty-first year in the same way…”

  •  Approaching each moment as a beginner

It doesn’t matter if we have lived a contemplative life for decades or years or days, we always approach each moment as a beginner to new revelations.  These are the seeds that could speak to us at any time if we are listening and aware.  So much revelation comes to us in the ordinary moments of everyday life.  We do not expect such ordinariness to enlighten us, but it constantly does over and over again.

  •  We cannot force our growth

We need to learn to have an openness and receptivity as we live as the body of Christ in the parish.  We cannot force our growth.  We cannot force our discipline.  These are good things to strive for, but ultimately revelation and understanding is given by God in ways that take time.

  •  As a gardener preparing the soil

We only begin as a gardener preparing the soil of our lives for openness and receptivity.  Our contemplative way of life helps us to listen and lay down our expectations in how we experience God.  We cannot control God or ever will control God.  The mystical imagination understands such things.

How have you become aware of the life of God within you in everyday life?