Do you know that moment when you are reading a really good book or watching a really good movie when what you expect to happen doesn’t, and what actually happens is way better than you could have predicted? Fortunately, that was the case for me when I decided to take a leap of faith and spend a year serving as a Young Adult Service Corp missionary for the Episcopal Church.
No matter how hard I tried to enter into the experience without expectations, it was not possible. Whether I could articulate them or not, those preconceived expectations were there. I know this because I found myself reflecting on them throughout the whole process – discernment, orientation, landing in Kenya, and through re-entry when I returned to the United States. We all have a lens and lifetime of experience that has helped us create a framework for how we understand and interact with the world. What realized was that it was not about removing expectations, but about becoming aware of what my expectations were so that I could look beyond them.
Serving as a YASC missionary gave me the opportunity to experience God’s love in an exciting way in a new context. YASC opened my heart and mind up to recognize the expectations I bring, and to the fact that God’s love goes beyond those expectations every time. I expected to have more answers than questions, I expected to be needed more than to want, I expected to see more hurt than joy. Admitting this to myself was not easy, but once I did I felt a freedom from the walls that I had put up myself. Serving as a missionary is as much about opening yourself up to how God is working in the world and through others as it is about allowing God to work through you. It is about expecting to serve and be served, to love and be loved, to see joy and be joyful. As a Christian, I believe that human expectations can create barriers that only God’s love can overcome.
[Learn more about the Young Adult Service Corps here.]
If I am called to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” which I believe that I am, then there is not much to expect other than an encounter with God’s love in the world and to share God’s love in the world. God’s love is the only unchanging expectation. It is always met and exceeded! Nothing I do can change God’s love for me or any of God’s creation. During this season of Advent, we wait expectantly for God’s love to take on human flesh. The birth of Jesus is a perfect example of the way that God meets and exceeds our expectations of love. Seek, serve, and be transformed in the love of God.