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Letting Go of Expectations



Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine shares a story from mission that stresses the fact that no matter how much we plan and prepare ahead of time, life often does not follow these plans. In these moments, it is important to realize that we can’t do it all by ourselves.

A couple of months ago we had a inter-Diocesan Sports Day. For this event,the Diocese was split into three teams. and the youth competed in different events such as netball (which is like basketball), football, and track and field events. There were also novelty events such as sack race, tug of war, and the water balloon toss. It was a great day for the kids. However, not all the kids participated in the games. They mostly spread out through  the stadium and had fun playing with and meeting other children.


A group of the children at the sports day

This lack of organization  was a problem for me, though, because during the  previous week we had planned out who would participate in what events  so that we could keep everybody organized. As the day went on, the more disorganized everything  became. I was particularly put in charge of the relay races. Since all the children were running around and I could not find anyone, I had  to put teams together on the spot. Our teams ended up winning a lot of  races, but we got second place overall.

As I reflected on the races later that day, I thought of a quote from He Leadeth Me by Father Walter Ciszek. Father Ciszek was a priest imprisoned in the USSR gulag for 20 years. The quote reads,  “I knew in my heart that I had tried to do too much on my own, and I had failed.” We tried so hard to organize the teams for the event, but that fell apart. As soon as we asked for God’s help it became possible and easier to just go with the flow.


Patrick with the second place medal

That is what we must do during this time of Lent.  We must let go of trying to do too much on our own. We must trust in God. We need to be willing to sacrifice and march with Jesus into the desert for 40 days and nights. We resist the temptations of the devil not by ourselves but only by the grace of God. Finally, when we return from the fast, we celebrate the fulfillment of the promise that started at Christmas, the promise  that we have been saved not by what we do, but by the Savior of the World.

Reflection Question: Do you insist on trying to do everything yourself? Do you ask for God’s assistance instead of becoming frustrated when things do not go according to plan?

Featured image: adaptation of photo by Flickr user Olga Berrios – labeled for reuse

Patrick Montine graduated from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He majored in anthropology and minored in Teaching English as a Second Language. He has served and traveled around the world, and considered it a great gift and privilege to serve with the Franciscans. Patrick served in Savannah la Mar, Jamaica.