Managing expectations

I tell my wife and daughters constantly to manage their expectations.

Whether it’s a new job, new boyfriend, new place, new car, new neighbor, fast food, new conspiracy theory, new elected officials, or new girl scout cookie flavors, manage your expectations.

You get the picture.

Manage your expectations about pretty much everything in life.

Don’t have unrealistic expectations of anybody or any place or anything.

Don’t believe that Wendy’s commercial about their food.

Once, I accepted a new job. It was in East Tennessee.

Now, East Tennessee is beautiful and sometimes I miss living there.

I grew up in South Alabama and was unaccustomed to any geographical feature higher than 10 feet.

Or mountains.

The closest I’d gotten to hills in South Alabama was the roller coaster at the Mobile county fair.

While my new little part of East Tennessee wasn’t quite in the Smoky Mountains, it was sure close.

Like I said, it was a beautiful place.

I was the new preacher at a little church in a little community near Chattanooga.

Maybe I was 26 or so. This was my first preaching job and I had no real expectations.

I was single and the very definition of insecurity and doubting my choice to have moved so far north into Yankee territory.

But all my insecurities were put at ease one Sunday morning after services not long after I had begun my journey.

A little lady was speaking to me.

Yes, that little old lady. She was a retired teacher, prim, proper, and she knew how to spell and such.

Anyway, she stopped me at the door and felt called by someone to share the whole story of the church’s recent decision about whom to employ.

And by “someone” I don’t think it was God or any of his agents.

She begins: “There were two men that we were considering to hire for the job.”

‘Oh,’ I said with a barely interested vibe.

‘Another guy and me?’

We were the candidates for the preaching job at this little church in this little community.

Because there was no real leadership in that little church, it became a sort of sloppy democracy. Just the other guy and me running for office.

I bent down closer to listen to her report the news of the election. An election that I had obviously won.

So, I was somewhat smug because, well, I was there and he wasn’t.

She whispered: “I voted for the other guy.”

And just like that, things started looking up – for a short preaching tenure.

So, let’s manage those expectations.

Just Outside of Silas

Our main job was to clean her refrigerator.

Really.

It’d been about a year since our last visit to clean the icebox and, well, grandma hadn’t done anything since then to prevent a perfect storm of chemical reactions from destroying the house, county, and possibly the western hemisphere.

So, once again, my parents and older siblings negotiated the scientific experiment in grandma’s kitchen, which likely would have made any high school science teacher, or any research chemist, jealous.

Basically, they’d throw everything out.

Everything.

Ever seen a glass jar of tomatoes after a year of bacteriological shenanigans in the refrigerator?

It’s not pretty. Continue reading “Just Outside of Silas”

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