For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
I don't know about you all, but of late it seems to me we are being hammered on all sides with judgement and fear. And in the midst of all of this, I see a large beast, it is the beast of false expectations. Let me see if I can explain what I mean by telling you the story of the storm I am in personally. I will not go into great detail, not because I have anything to hide, but more out of respect for my family.
Obviously for all of us COVID has been something that has really thrown us for a loop. In a society that would normally welcome a warm hug and a friendly smile, now we cower from one another like lepers in a crowded town. Ring your bell to let them know you are coming and watch community run away. We really aren't all that different from the biblical days. We think we are advanced in science and we forget who is Lord over all of it, including science. Jesus wasn't afraid of the leper, He was God and He healed them. We need Jesus so desperately right now, but we turn everywhere but towards him; judging our fellow man along the way. He can heal this.
During this time period my extended family lost a family member to COVID-19. We lost a family member to suicide, of which I am sure COVID-19 isolation and economic hardship was a part. I am also in charge of caring for my elderly parents whose health complications are completely overwhelming. I feel as though I can actually understand every side of every issue.
On a daily basis I felt as if the choices I have had to make are choices between two dire circumstances. Do I help mom and dad? If I don't they could die. If I do, do I risk exposing them to a virus where they could die? I often found myself in a place of non-decision. Paralyzed by the possibilities. I had to come up with a way to make a decision. And I knew my decisions must be brought to God first.
I decided to start with what my desire was. So for example, I desire to see my parents. I ask myself if my desire aligns with God's will. How can I know God's will? I ask Him and I find answers in Scripture. He desires that we have life and have it abundantly. From there I made my decision and asked him to bless it. I trusted that He would.
But there was another issue plaguing me too. It was the idea in my head of what a "good daughter" would be. When my parents health issues became so overwhelming that I couldn't keep up, I had to ask for help. This made me feel guilt and shame. And dealing with all of it through pandemic and protests and division and rioting a looting, the weight of the world suddenly seemed back on my shoulders. All the while I would turn to Catholic sites or forums for reprieve only to see bickering and fighting over mask wearing and protests with judgment and accusation flying everywhere. The devil is having a field day. Each side wanting to be "right" at all costs. When I commented to stop judging one another I had someone lie to me about their situation just to prove their side. This only served to remind me that no matter what side you fall on in your discernments, it is SIN that needs to be purged. If your ideology causes you to lie to be right then there is a major problem going on. But we all already know that because we can see the fruits.
Yesterday I turned everything off and went and sat on my porch as storm clouds rolled in. As before the Lord asked me to pay attention. Yesterday's storm was weird, it would pour buckets and lightening and then it would stop, only to start back again a few minutes later. Brief reprieves happening. Kind of like life right now.
I prayed a Rosary and a Chaplet of Mercy, and from the bottom of my heart and soul I just said, I consecrate myself to the Trinity and the Holy Family and I surrender. At that moment a force came upon me and through me that I cannot explain. All I can say is that I knew all would be well. God's peace surrounded me and he began to speak to me about False Expectations. This is something Jansen has talked to me about before and I have written about before, but the understanding of how far and how deep false expectations are became very apparent to me.
The Lord began to show me my own false expectation of what a "perfect daughter" should be. And how when a false bar is set the only place to go from there is into anxiety and despair. The false bar is flung at us by Satan. He takes what you know to be good and twists it to make you try to achieve the impossible, and when you fail it sets you up for a downward spiral. Satan's bar is ugly. God's bar is beautiful, confident and full of life.
The Lord began then to show me how each of the Apostles had false expectations. They all had an idea in their head of how things would play out, and when it didn't go their way, they fell apart. From betrayal, to denial, to cutting off ears, to running away, to suicide. Many recovered from their false expectation of God through repentance and they were healed. We have to always hope in God's mercy.
But there was one Apostle who didn't fall prey to this false expectation, John, the beloved. And I asked the Lord what was the difference? Before I go into what the Lord spoke to me I feel I must state that it is important to understand, God did not love John more than he loved the others. He loved them all. John's response to God's love was just different. But we must never fall into the trap of comparison or beating ourselves up or not forgiving ourselves if we make mistakes, if we sin. If we go to confession the Lord forgives us, who are we to not forgive ourselves too? God loves you exactly where you are right now and there is nothing you can do to make Him stop loving you.
We know in the Gospel accounts that John too ran away, but he didn't run and hide, Mystics have told us he ran to get Mary. John totally embraced Jesus' Mother, in whom he saw the perfection of God in a mere human being. John had no other expectation of God, except to love like Jesus and Mary. That's why he could stand at the cross. He had let go of what he expected God to do and just trusted. We would all too well to embrace Mary our Mother and consecrate ourselves to her if we haven't already. Those who survive this storm will be Marian, without her you will be led astray.
Right now we live in a world where we are expecting so many things of others and of God. We are not trusting God and we are trying to control other people, which makes us hateful instead of loving. We judge them and we expect things to change without ever expecting we need to purge our own self of sin.
How do you treat other people both online and in person who have a different view from you? It doesn't mean acceptance of evil, but we are making judgements on the interior of another as evil even when we can't possibly know their interior. Someone told me it wasn't Christian to not wear a mask and non mask wearers want to kill people. REALLY? Do you really believe that? Someone else told me people who wear masks want to destroy freedom. REALLY? Do you really believe that? Is it possible you could be right in your assumption? Yes, it is, but how do you really know? And how are you treating people based on your assumption? Did the woman caught in adultery commit sin? Yes. Did Jesus throw a stone at her? No. But He did tell her to go and sin no more – and here again we see the key to everything. It's about purifying yourself of sin. It is a false expectation to think that the world will get better if you don't do this.
Will you love the person in the mask? Will you love the person not in the mask? The choice is up to you.
Jesus didn't force people to do things. He always let people chose of their own free will. It isn't love if you don't choose it. The devil wants to back you into a corner where you are trapped. God wants to set you free.
One last thing I wanted to speak about in regards to this has to do with prophecy. We all can see the prophecies of the last century and from church history playing out in real time. It is fine to read a listen to prophecy and to be a watchman and pay attention. But do not fall into the trap of thinking that you know what is going to happen or how it is going to happen. This would be the quintessential false expectation. We are not gnostics. We do not have secret knowledge. We do not know God's ways. If you think you know, you will be shown how much you don't know. Humility is a greatly needed virtue. What we do have in the Catholic Church is truth and the path to union with the will of God. Follow that and all will be well.