Have you ever driven to a coffee shop for a first date expectant, curious yet completely nervous? Have you ever waited in a receiving room for an interview with ideas and questions swirling in your head? Have you ever had expectations of what you thought the current season in your life would look like only to realize it was not what God had planned? This blog is dedicated to you.
I drove to the local coffee shop, expectant, curious and completely nervous. How many people would show up? Would we overcrowd the café? Would we have to turn people away? In just five minutes of an email invitation being sent out to 100 plus of my new colleagues to join my little book club, two…five…nine people starting saying “I’ll be there,” and “Count me in.” It was overwhelming at first. My idea of a book club was a few book passionate friends having tea, lemonade or whatever beverage fit our fancy for the day in a cozy corner of a local coffee house or at one of our own houses.
Knowing full well my friend and co-creator, Karen was going to miss the first meeting and I was going to be a half hour late getting out of work that day I enlisted the leadership of Mama C, our matriarch, to begin the introductions and present my three book recommendations for our first month’s read.
I gave myself a pep talk before I even exited my car. It’s going to be great. They knew that you would be late. I really hope we didn’t take over the coffee shop. My second pep talk before I opened the large wooden doors of the café was better. You got this. No worries. Yeah book club! Nothing prepared me for what would greet me on the other side.
Emptiness. For a moment I thought I walked through the wrong door. I looked around for a sign. Inman Perk. This is definitely the right place. So where is everyone? Besides a few clusters of intense conversations happening at the couches directly across from the counter where two baristas sipped from their own frothy mugs, every single table and lounge chair was empty.
My problem solving instincts immediately kicked in: there is probably a side room for bigger crowds in the back. I walked to the far end of the café past the bathrooms to find a boiler room, a staircase to the loft above and an emergency exit only door.
I debated on opening the emergency exit door because it felt like that sort of moment; when a quiet exit was the only way to escape certain humiliation. The only thing that kept me from slipping out the back as if I never came in was looking for Mama C. She would never have bailed on me, especially without calling me, she had to be here somewhere.
“Baby, no one showed up,” was the first thing I heard from her side of the line after she answered the phone. “I’m so sorry, I forgot to call you after I saw my guest for dinner tonight at the counter 15 minutes after the meeting was supposed to begin. So we just headed to my place together.” What? “Don’t worry, it will catch on.” The calmness in her voice seemed surreal. No one showed up? It was too tender of a thought to acknowledge. I walked out of the café [through the front door] really confused, even more frustrated and completely heartbroken. How could no one have shown up?
I immediately thought of cancelling book club all together. What’s the point if no one is going to show up? That is when the Lord reminded me my expectations did not match my heart behind starting the club in the first place. I didn’t start my book club to have 10 people show up; success of it didn’t hinge on the number of readers. I started the club because I love books and sharing titles and discussing characters are a part of my love for them.
It is the same in all areas of our lives. Our expectants should not defined the outcome of our first date, our big interview or even the small ‘book clubs’ in our lives. What matters is we are pursuing the desires God has given us and courageously stepping out to share our passions with others. So the next time you find yourself expecting what the season in your life should look like, ask yourself if your anticipations match your heart. If not, God may just wreck your expectations.