Hannah and I met in college and got engaged in the summer after our sophomore year. I worked all summer at a church in Missouri to save up enough money to buy the perfect ring. I flew into Atlanta, Georgia to surprise her while she was on a mission trip with Southside and got permission from Matthew Morgan to steal her away for the evening without her knowing. I planned this evening for months and got into town early to set up. The plan was simple: decorate the backyard to have it romantically lit with a candlelit table and lights strung up, cook an amazing dinner that would impress her into marrying me despite the fact that she was way out of my league, and lastly propose playing chess because I taught her how on one of our first dates. The plan was perfect and I was expecting the most magical night ever to go off without a hitch, but that’s not how life goes. As I got into my parents’ backyard they had started doing major landscaping the day before and my romantic, outdoor candlelit dinner was a bust (strike one). This night was months in the making and I was a man in love and could not be derailed. I called Hannah and told her I flew in and got permission to take her on a date and she refused and said it was unprofessional to leave. After an hour and Matthew threatening to fire her if she didn’t she reluctantly joined me (strike two). We get back to my house and I start to cook the dinner I had been practicing. Everything was on the grill and I went inside to give Hannah an update and came outside to dinner on fire and my utensils melted on the side of the grill (strike three). This amazing night that I had expected to go perfectly failed at every turn. I was at a loss for words and disappointed in myself on so many levels. My expectations were not my reality and I became dissatisfied.
I often feel like this is what happens with our spiritual lives. We have grand plans to create a prayer journal so we go pick out a nice pen and a beautiful journal and start praying. The next day we lose the journal, the pen runs out of ink, and our three minutes of praying did not change the world and we are disappointed and dissatisfied. We miss out on the point of why we were doing this in the first place, to grow closer to God. In reality our plans will often fail but we can still succeed if we don’t let unrealistic expectations of everything going perfectly cause us to stop when they don’t. It’s like the night I proposed, everything went wrong, but in the end, I realized proposing was the purpose of that night and the rest was just details. That night 6 years ago this week was perfect. We have a story that we tell and laugh and remember the night that reality was far better than anything we could have expected.