26 May 2011

Expectations and the Refiner's Fire


Talk about a loaded word...

Over the past year, I've been much challenged about holding expectations loosely, especially when I've placed those expectations on others. No one could possibly meet them all.

And that isn't 100% true. There is One Who could... He doesn't always because He always does what He should... that which is right, that which is best. He even takes all strivings against Him, all efforts for the worst and works them for good.

Truth be known, my expectations are not only often misplaced... but also frequently qualify as mistaken hopes, sinful desires, aristocratic arrogance, unfounded dreams... for something that will not result in God's glory and eternal good...

Yet as wife, parent, friend, teacher, person... I do regularly set expectations - tossing the ceaselessly moving monkey burden onto the shoulders of another and then reacting when those expectations are not met.

I've been thinking about this a lot this hot season. It seems like our first hot season back after time in Michigan is nothing short of miserable in many ways. I struggle with my attitude as I read facebook comments moaning the never-ending cold of winter. It is hard to explain hot season to someone who has never experienced it: unreliable electricity, heat that suffocates, drains, exhausts, unmotivates. This conviction that someone has opened some enormous oven door after preheating it for pizza and that stifling air from within blows everywhere, carrying sand, depositing it on freshly swept and mopped floors and the only respite is that at least the air moves. Sleeping consists of tossing and turning, sleeping on wet sheets or running through the shower in your pjs as soon as you are somewhat dry once in the hopes that evaporation will bring a tiny measure of relief. As one friend wrote, you begin to wonder if it is a physical possiblity to actually drown in the lakes of sweat gathering around your feet while working in the kitchen, sweat running rivers down the back of your legs, worse than any leaky faucet dropping from your brow or trickling into your ears.

Earlier this week, I was conduting a swimming evaluation of the 70 plus elementary students at Sahel, in anticipation for their swimming physical education unit next week. After 2.5 hours in the pool in temperatures approaching 100'F/38'C, I was shivering... and loving every second of it! Maybe it is just me, but I prefer Michigan winters to this heat and waiting for the momentary relief of rain- any time, any day.

The heat is not only a physical trial - but it is also an emotional stress and involves intense spiritual battle. Grumpiness is always on hand... gentle grace is hard to find. Words have a sharp edge that cuts already tender and sensitive exteriors; normally generous people become stingy instead of offering patience and understanding. Instead of laying aside our rights, we demand more and become angry when those demands are not met.


This hot season has given me fresh opportunities to experience the Refiner's fire as I live with, work with, make requests, set expectations and respond to situations and others. When I see my requests unfulfilled, when my expectations go unmet with no attempt to do so... as I fail to fulfill other's demands of me or I cannot aspire to realize their expectations,  when I have no clue why God is doing what He is the way He is, it seems I have two possiblities:

...gentle grace or angry judgement?

Response does not have to be determined by others or circumstances.

It is, quite simply, my choice.


  1. A better dissertation on the Niger hot season I've never seen. Very well put Richelle though I do prefer the hot season here to cold MI winters that chill me to the bone. I'm quite grumpy during those too. To each her own, yes?

    Jeanne Scypinski


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