Why Reality Rarely Meets Our Expectations

We’ve been in the middle of a building project. After the mess of demolition and construction, we’re finally at the finishing stage. This should be the fun part. Right?

In many ways it is. But it has brought other challenges that relate to life in general—the gap between reality and imagination.

• I pictured flawless beauty when we splurged on nicer countertops. We got two glaring, broken and repaired chips.

• I envisioned the perfect colors for my kitchen. My sample boards were too gray or too bright.

• I imagined working with professionals who would guide me. I had to guide some of them.

• I hoped for choices the whole family would love. You can finish this sentence for me.

This made me wonder why there is a gap between reality and our imaginations. The answer brings hope.

11041701736_d709b521e4_z-2Photo by: Steve Browne 

Being made in the image of God, we share His ability to see things that aren’t yet visible. We create in our minds before we create with our hands. We imagine peace and joy at family gatherings because that is what He has in mind. We long for beauty and order because that is His reality. Listen to our great hope for the future:

“‘What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’—
the things God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV).

In other words, in heaven, the gap between imagination and reality will be reversed. It will be better than we can imagine!

This world is a shadow of the reality that awaits us in heaven. Our longings for harmony, peace, and joy will be fully realized there. Until then, we experience only tastes of these wonderful gifts. Like delicious aromas, these shadows draw us closer to their source. When we wander away, the scent of heaven fades, and we pursue shadows.

We can still enjoy imperfect relationships and projects on earth. As we walk with the Lord, His life flows through us. This touches the people and projects in our lives. The apostle Paul reminds us God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

• As I prayed about the marred countertop and thanked God He had something bigger than my kitchen in mind, He inspired me with a solution that satisfied the countertop people and us.

• The day I needed to give the final colors to the painters, mixing two colors together gave me the shade I wanted.

• I learned to appreciate true professionals and stay diligent with the others.

• Knowing Larry is delighted with something I didn’t want makes me happy.

The gap between our glorious imaginations and life’s disappointments is the gap between heaven and earth. The time we enjoy the satisfaction of our longings are mere whiffs of heavenly joy.

If life hasn’t met your expectations or been what you imagined, hold on. God promises His children, the best is yet to be.

What helps you when your experience falls short of your imagination? Click here to share your thoughts.




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  1. Diane Allen

    I find myself repeating what you told me once “people in Africa don’t have grass in their yards either.” — I know this is out of context but it has helped me remember that there are other people with bigger issues and a lot of what I want in my “perfect” world is window dressing. This applies to the physical surroundings.

    Personal relationships is another matter but the principle still works — what is important in the long run? Focus on that.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Diane, you are so right. We easily focus on the things we can’t control and let those things distract us from what we have. I appreciate your sharing.

  2. Ann Musico

    That is well said Debbie! All too often I think we (I, at least) build things up in my mind and imagination and they have no choice but to fall a bit short of my expectation. But I believe that is what God wants us to do – really paint the picture we want – whether we get it 100% or not and as you explained, when we take the disappointment to Him in prayer, He can give us a solution to a problem or the peace and contentment with it as is. And knowing heaven will be SO much more than I can ever imagine is exciting.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen, Ann. Since our imaginations can create wonderful scenarios, it is wonderful to know heaven will exceed all our imaginations put together!

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