What Do You Expect?: Choosing the Thoughts that Will Make Your Day

From the Monday Mission, November 9, 2020

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I riding my bike in the neighborhood recently, when I passed one of those speed limit warning signs that tells your speed and flashes at you if you are speeding. And of course I couldn’t help but look up and notice my speed, which was 8 MPH when I was approaching.

Then the numbers started to climb rather rapidly. And in response, I started pedaling harder, because apparently I was doing something right, something amazing. Right when I passed the sign, a car drove past me, and I realized it wasn’t my speed at all.

But the idea that I was driving 24 MPH was really motivating for a few seconds. It encouraged me and helped me to do better.

What are you expecting in your life?

I’m embarrassed to say that a majority of the days of my adulthood have been completely determined within the first few moments of waking in the morning.

My brain automatically does a scan—How is my body feeling? How tired am I? What unwanted tasks await me today?

Then Brain says, “Sounds like a terrible day. Poor you.”

Without recognizing these thought patterns, and the transaction I had made, I used to choose a bad day. Over and over. I was expecting it.

Without denying the harder seasons of life, I want to suggest that our minds are so much more powerful than we give them credit for. They make and break our days all the time. They can improve the hard experiences and absolutely ruin the good ones.

What are you expecting today? What are you expecting this week? What are you expecting for the end of 2020? And for the coming year?
Does the horizon look cloudy and bleak or hopeful?

This morning I was praying for the week ahead and acknowledged to myself that the uncertainty of this year has made it harder for me to look forward with hope. Without realizing it, I am usually expecting or hoping in something tangible, such as a planned trip to see family or a milestone for one of my kids. But this year feels like a giant blob of nothingness, days upon days that felt the same and didn’t feel great. We can’t count on very much that’s tangible right now.

So this is our challenge—to see each day as an opportunity in and of itself. I may not have any certainty about what will happen next month, but I do have today. Am I going to make something good of it or throw it away on negative thinking before it even starts?

I am empowered to make the most of each day as it comes. But I have to shift my mindset from one of “I am hopeful and happy about this week or month because of x, y, and z” to “I choose hope and happiness today because I am going to make the most of whatever comes.”

This is what it looks like to be grounded and secure not in circumstances but in faith itself. Faith doesn’t wait for the finish line or for all of the unknowns to be revealed or for the comforts and security of this life to come to pass.

Today is full of opportunity. Let’s expect that it will go well, that we will walk in peace, because we’re going to choose it. Let’s be the overly optimistic bike rider who believes she is riding like the wind.

Your Monday Mission is (surprise surprise) to set your expectations for the day and the week. Consider what your mind has already told you subconsciously today. What thoughts are already in the background? Do they align with truth? If not, scrap them and start fresh right now.

This is my prayer from I Corinthians 15:58: “That we would be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.” Amen.

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