Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On Lollipops and Expectations: Wisdom From An Eleven Year-old

I have always been fond of dum-dum lollipops — a little treat in a giant, inexpensive bag.

We all have our favorite flavors. From root beer to green apple, there isn't really one I don't like. Well, except for the pina colada.

Each lollipop is wrapped with paper that's clearly marked so you know what flavor you're getting. Unless, of course, you pick the mystery flavor.

The other day while we were driving home my kids were each enjoying a dum-dum and apparently contemplating life.

My eleven year-old explained how when he knows what flavors are there he looks for his favorites and if it's not there, he is disappointed. But if he receives a "mystery" flavor, then he accepts it, no matter what flavor it is because he didn't have an expectation.

And I think about how this is as true in life as it is with lollipops.

We all struggle with expectations. We envision how something is supposed to go or how we want it to happen and when we don't get what we expected we are left disappointed.

Ridding ourselves of the expectation allows us to be more open to whatever happens. In the wise words of my husband, "you get what you get and you don't get upset."

I can identify with the lollipop analogy because it shows the close link between expectations and perspective.

When the wrapper has a big question mark on it then we don't have control over what flavor it is. We have more of an open mind and may even be a little excited to find out what it is.

But when we have a choice, we are selective, maybe even a bit particular. Before we even taste the candy we have an idea of what it's supposed to taste like. And if it doesn't taste the way we think it should then we are disappointed.

Can we approach life seeing each opportunity, each possibility as a "mystery flavor"?

Or are we too afraid?

Fear — it lurks around every corner of my life. We expect because we want to be in control. We want to be in control because we are afraid of what we might get or maybe even what we won't get.

The "mystery flavor" is a risk. It leaves us vulnerable and unprotected and completely out of control.

We can peek under the wrapper, guess its flavor by its color, even sniff it, but we won't really know what flavor it is until we taste it.

The reality of life is it's all a mystery. We never know what we are going to get. So let go and start tasting.

You didn't get what you wanted? It wasn't what you expected?

Spit it out and try another one.


~Karrilee~ from Abiding Love, Abounding Grace said...

This is such a great picture/anology and how awesome that your 11yr old just let it roll off his tongue! Don't you just love when our littles find Teaching Moments for us?

Great post!

Courtney said...

What a super analogy! My husband often says, "Happiness = Reality minus Expectations." I used to think that was a downer, but now I see it differently. To be open to possibilities, expectations open, is a good way to live.

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