The Unrelenting Passion of Anticipation

Summer is pressing hard upon us.  The warm spring days are yielding to ever increasing temperatures.  The landscape’s sporadic beauty and color, which had awakened from its long winter’s nap, has deferred to the full panorama of foliage and hues that are uniquely summer.  Everything is green.  Everything is alive.  That which we anticipated has arrived.  Welcome, summer!

Our family has a long standing tradition of traveling to Florida for summer vacation.  We pack the car, wait for the last final exam, attend the graduation services, and then begin our trek.  My husband and I rent the Floridian condo into which the myriad of children and grandchildren take temporary residence.  For a week or two, we play, swim, sightsee, fellowship, and party.  Each year the routine repeats.  Orlando and Disneyland have come to expect a June visit from the Amsdens.

This year, my three year old grandson, Judah, has grasped the concept:  vacation awaits!  His mom and dad have been setting his heart on the adventure.  They have been promising that he will meet Mickey and Minnie.  They have assured him that he will experience the Buzz Lightyear 3-D laser ride and enjoy the famous ‘It’s a Small World’ boat.  They have guaranteed that Judah will encounter water flume falls, tea cup spins, merry-go-round thrills, and fairytale adventures.  

I have collaborated in building the expectation.  A few days ago, I took my computer with all the pictures from last year over to Judah’s house.  My son projected my slide show onto his big screen TV, and we all sat down to enjoy the show.  With each photo, someone interjected a memory, recalled the fun, or re-lived the moment.  Laughs, giggles, and joyful shouts filled the room.  

Judah, who was only two last summer, could not really remember the event.  He may not have been able to look back with us, but he sure joined the momentum of looking forward.  Before the show ended, he was laughing as hard and talking as loudly as the adults.  He even added to the follies by jumping up and down and running in circles.  Anticipation was growing inside the heart of our three-year old.

Then the slide show ended.  He grabbed me by the hand and pulled me toward the door.  “Let’s go now, Nana,” he said.  

“Well,” I responded, “you will need to pack your suitcase first.”  Judah promptly dropped my hand and took his mother’s.

“Let’s go, Mom; let’s go pack,” he pleaded.  

“Judah, it’s not time yet.  We have to wait a couple more weeks,” Mom replied.

No one can change the atmosphere of a room more quickly than a three year old (except, maybe a teen-ager)!  My sweet, adorable, charming, intelligent little grandson let out a chilling scream.  His vocal reaction was accompanied with matching physicality.  He stomped and pounded his feet.  His heart was broken; his dream was delayed; his expectation was dashed.  What else could he do but communicate that we were obstacles to the fulfillment of the immeasurable fun that awaited.  

Nana and parents watched – not in horror but in compassion.  We had created the anticipation, and he could only process with the understanding that was age appropriate.  A whole lot of comforting and cajoling followed.  We reinforced our promises and guaranteed that, as soon as his cousins finished school, we would all go together.  Thankfully, the night ended with kisses, smiles, and anticipation intact.  Summer will arrive – it always does.  Vacation will come – it always does.  Judah will wait – he has no choice.

Striking the balance between living in the joy of anticipation and the frustration of waiting is the art of living.  The scripture says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12).  Waiting forever with no hope of a promise actualized will strike a deathblow to a dream.  However, living without a dream in an attempt to protect the heart from pain is not the answer.  No one can really live destitute of the promise of future blessing.  The pledge of heaven is the sure testimony that we are created with the need to anticipate.  

The second part of Proverbs 13:12 says, “but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.”  Judah will see.  The passion of his anticipation will be rewarded.  Several weeks from now, his dream will come true and a life lesson will be learned.

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