My pastor, in a recent sermon, used the term “expectancy without expectation.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since and trying to figure out what it means in my life. I know I’m supposed to analyze this because a light bulb flashed when he said it and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
I looked up the words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and they defined both words exactly the same: “act or state of expecting.” Duh! That’s a circular definition and it certainly doesn’t address my expectation of what I think of as the nuance between the two words. There is, I believe, a shade of difference which the pastor meant and which I immediately grasped even though I couldn’t quite put it into words. Next I looked in the Oxford Dictionary. Aha! Expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Expectancy: the state of thinking or hoping that something, especially something pleasant, will happen or be the case. That’s more like it.
So here I am at the beginning of another Christmas season and I find myself dreading Christmas alone. This will be my fourth solo. I think that’s why I’m supposed to focus on expectations and expectancy. Actually, I think I want to focus on expectancy and forget the expectations. Ivan Illich said, “We must rediscover the distinction between hope (expectancy) and expectation. And that’s what I’m trying to do. If I have expectations, good or bad, for Christmas, I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment. On the other hand, if I await Christmas with expectancy and an open heart, I believe I will find peace and I will certainly be better company to those around me. And maybe the true meaning of Christmas will find me without my having to stress and worry about it. That is to say that it’s not about me. It’s about my family and my friends and my faith. (FFF)
I’m going downstairs now to decorate the tree, sing carols and work on getting these ideas from my brain to my heart.