“I often want to say to people, ‘you have neat, tight expectations of what life ought to give you, but you won’t get it. That isn’t what life does. Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.’ But some wouldn’t hear, and some would shatter themselves on principle.” By Florida Scott-Maxwell in The Measure of My Days
Living as Apprentices
One of my favorite phrases for life was given to me by Philip, a man of many scars and infinite wisdom, in an Al-Anon meeting several years ago. He said, “An expectation is a premeditated resentment.” It ranks right up there with “Who said life is fair?” as life-changing debate-enders. But I have found both expressions most helpful as I live life as an apprentice of Jesus.
I have come across many people whose default setting is resentment, sullenness, or downright hostility when life doesn’t meet their “neat, tight expectations. ” I have been one of those myself at times. It’s not pleasant to be the giver or the recipient of these attitudes.
I think that living in the Kingdom of Me allows, even encourages, us to think that others must meet our expectations – whether those expectations are reasonable or outlandish. When our spouse or boss or friend or neighbor doesn’t live up to what we expect of them, we become resentful. The only way to deal with this discomfort is to stop expecting that life revolves around us. It sounds hard, but it is simply a choice we can make. It is astonishing how much easier it is to get along in this world when we personally live up to the standard that Christ set and allow others to do the same (or not) without our feeling the need to set the bar for them.
Citizenship in the Kingdom of Me also brings with it the right to demand fair treatment. We assume that if we live a proper life, life will treat us properly – no unexpected wrong turns or painful collisions or time-wasting detours. Frankly, if life had treated Jesus fairly, we all would be in quite a pickle. As Florida Scott-Maxwell says in the quote above, life is not fair; it shatters us. When we change our residence from the Kingdom of Me to the Kingdom of God, we will learn that it is only out of brokenness that we grow and that only “growing out of our containers” will make our presence in this world fruitful and lovely. Maybe being an apprentice of Jesus requires “shatter [ing our] selves on principle.”