I finally finished reading The Shack, a novel by William Paul Young. In the last hundred pages I discovered interesting character dialogue. One passage in particular captures my attention. Focusing on expectancy and expectation, the subtle distinction between these words accompanies me like two marbles rolling in my pocket.
The passage instigating my pondering about expectancy and expectation takes place when Sarayu (the personification of the Spirit of God) explains to Mack (a seeker and primary character in The Shack) the following:
“I am a verb … I am alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving. … And my very essence is a verb.” Sarayu explains further: “To move from something that is only a noun to something dynamic and unpredictable, to something living and present tense, is to move from law to grace.”
Mack, struggling to understand, is given this example:
“Mack, if you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart, there is an expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic, and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else. But what happens if I change that ‘expectancy’ to an ‘expectation’–spoken or unspoken? Suddenly law has entered our relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead thing with rules and requirements. It is no longer about you and me, but about what friends are supposed to do, or the responsibilities of a good friend.”
Now beginning to understand, Mack adds: “Or … the responsibilities of a husband, or a father, or employee, or whatever. I get the picture. I would much rather live in expectancy.”
This passage provoked my inquiry: “Do I live with expectancy or expectation?” Aware of the subtle and valuable differences between these two words, I suspect there is relevance for my various interpersonal relationships, work life, love life, play, volunteer time, and yes, even my prayer. I notice I do live with the expansive quality of expectancy in many areas of my life. But, expectation of myself or others often unintentionally results in me becoming too critical, or even confining and limiting. I know this leads toward judgment and missing the opportunity of the present moment to be, as I like to think of it, personally, passionately present.
Will you join me and take a few minutes to ponder ‘expectation’ and ‘expectancy’ within your life context? What is expansive or limiting within each? Can inner peace and calm grow within expectation? Does the idea of expectancy allow unimagined possibility to emerge?
What percolates in you?