Unfulfilled Expectancy

by Alise

The Christmas tree was set up, decorated in blue and silver. The band rocked out a slamming rendition of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The calendar was packed full of Christmas activities – children’s pageant, live nativity, Christmas potluck.

I folded up the paper and put it in my purse.

I’m not a big fan of Christmas.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I like the holiday. I like Christmas music and twinkling lights. I like picking out at least one really good gift each year. I like candy canes and chocolate cherry cordials. There’s a lot to like at Christmas.

Christmas is the time of year when people tend to think a lot more about faith. Those who don’t regularly attend church will dust off their church clothes and attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service with their family. They’ll sing the songs about angels and newborn kings and connect with their Christian roots for an hour.

The Christmas season makes me feel the separation between what was and what is in my marriage more sharply than any other.

The first couple of Christmases that we celebrated after my husband’s deconversion, I hoped that the connection to the season that others feel would carry over for him as well. Maybe the beauty and wonder of the holiday would echo in his atheist heart and he would remember why he had been a Christian for all of those years. Perhaps the melody of a Christmas carol or the smell of candle wax or the obligatory reading of Luke 2 would resonate in him and he would believe again.

But this hasn’t happened. And with each passing Christmas, the hope that I’m supposed to feel grows a bit dimmer. I want to believe that something will change, but it feels unlikely.

In Christmases past, I would always identify with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Pregnant with hope waiting to be birthed into the world. Filled with life and joy and peace. Before the deconversion, I would have wanted to go sit next to her on the church pew and share in the excitement of the days to come.

I don’t feel that as much these days.

Now, I feel like I would want to seek out Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. But not pregnant Elizabeth.

No, I’d like to sit with the Elizabeth who, year after year, waited for a baby. Who saw others have that desire fulfilled, but who had to continue on without that gratification in her own life. Elizabeth, who may have asked what she did wrong, who may have wondered why she was denied something that so many took for granted.

I can relate to her. I can relate to that feeling of unfulfilled expectancy. To want something that is good and right and to wonder why it is being denied. I would sit with her and cry with her and wait with her.

Because right now, waiting is the best hope that I can muster.


40 Responses to “Unfulfilled Expectancy”

  1. Preston December 4, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    You are so loved, friend.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 4:50 am #

      Thank you, Preston. I appreciate it.

  2. Anna December 4, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    Alise, I pray for you. Waiting sucks doesn’t it. And nothing makes it easy. You can be Elizabeth, waiting without knowledge of the future promise.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 7:53 am #

      Thank you, Anna. It’s the not knowing that is tough.

  3. Ed December 4, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    You are a blessing to us with your honesty and with the way you’ve opened up about your life. The waiting is so hard, especially for the things we others getting all around us. Thank you Alise.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Indeed – jealousy is definitely a part of what makes this season difficult. It doesn’t fit with the holiday AT ALL. But thank you for the kind words.

  4. Tracie December 4, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    I have my own thing I have waited on for five years now. Waiting sucks. It shouldn’t be done alone. Hugs.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 7:57 am #

      I’m grateful that I have others to lean on during the waiting and I pray that you have the same. Hugs right back at you.

    • Janice S. December 4, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      I’m with you in the waiting, Tracie, as I wait as well.

  5. Jennifer Hoffman December 4, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Oh Alise. Thank you so much for sharing. You’ve invited us to sit with you while you wait, and that we will do. I hate that you are in a season of waiting, but know you are not alone. We are keeping the watch with you.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      I appreciate the many who join me in the waiting.

  6. Bekka December 4, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Oh, Alise! I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t sound a bit cliche or insincere in some sense. May you never lose hope, though it grows dim for a time.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      Thank you, friend. I’m grateful for people like you who help me remember hope when it seems distant.

  7. Sarah Askins: Poet-Writer December 4, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Oh dear friend, waiting is one of the worst places emotionally. So much love this season.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      I know you have been in that waiting place. Love you back.

  8. here be dragons December 4, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    This breaks my heart a little.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Thank you.

  9. Bethany Bassett December 4, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    This honesty of yours, it’s so heart-achingly good. And just plain heart-aching too. Waiting never doesn’t suck, but I hope that our sharing it with you can lessen its suckitude.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      It does lessen it. I just have to remember to allow people to share.

  10. Diana December 4, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    And you were worried about this one?? Oh, my, it’s wonderful. Achingly poignant and so real. Thank you, thank you for going here because I’ve actually been thinking about you during this season and how very bittersweet it must feel. I think barren Elizabeth is an apt metaphor and she a blessed partner for you during this time. And this, my dear friend, is an absolutely spot on Advent reflection. Don’t know if I’ve read a better description of what waiting can feel like at times. Hoping with you, waiting with you, believing with you.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Thank you, dear one. Christmas continues to be a difficult season – probably because it’s just. so. long. But I’m grateful for so many lovely people to wait with me.

  11. Pam M. December 4, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Beloved Alise — my heart aches for you. I don’t know what else more to say, that so many here have already said much more eloquently than I could say right now. May it suffice to know that I wait tearfully along with you, too, for a husband, a son and a daughter. It does seem to be more painful this time of year. A bittersweet season, to be sure. Let’s hold on and not give up hope.

    Praying with you,

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Thank you. We’ll wait & pray together.

  12. HopefulLeigh December 4, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Friend, this is poignant and true. Oh, the ache of the unknown, especially in what should be a season of joy. I wonder if that’s why we feel it all the more keenly this time of year: we’re up against the way we “should” feel, hope, celebrate, and so on. But your last sentence says it all for me: “waiting is the best hope that I can muster.” I dare say that is what hope truly is, an expectant waiting. We may not know the outcome (and I’ve come to realize our hope cannot be attached to outcome) but we can still look toward our hopes and dreams and pray God will use them and that He will move.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      Yes, the “supposed tos” and “shoulds” are pretty rough. And you crushed it with the idea that hope cannot be attached to outcome. That’s pretty huge.

  13. Emily December 4, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Oh Alise, this is so brave and beautiful and true.

    I will sit with you and wait. Some days (most days) I wait even for the hope to keep waiting.

    • Alise December 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      That’s the truth. The hope to keep waiting is sometimes lacking.

  14. Katherine Willis Pershey December 4, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Waiting is hard but holy work.

  15. Jonathan December 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    This post has been a real blessing.


  16. Lore Ferguson December 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #


    Pregnant Hope. I say this to a family member recently. They still don’t understand. But He does. And that’s enough.

  17. Heather December 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    My friend sent me your way today. I’m in that waiting as well (14 years and counting), holding on to the promises of God, seeing His goodness in the journey, longing for the fulfillment, reminding myself that even if it always is this way, He really is enough. Thanks for sharing this part of your story.

  18. Dan McM December 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Not to make light, but am I the only one that now has Tom Petty stuck in my head? ;P

    The waiting is definitely a drag. The Elizabeth story is definitely apropos, but the other waiting story that comes to mind is not Christmas…. it’s the road to Emmaus. My hope and prayer for both of you is that someday you’ll back and see this time as one where Jesus was right there with you, even though you didn’t always recognize him in the circumstance. God’s not done with your hubs, and he’s not playing dice with his soul…..

    I hope you have a fantastic season, filled with light and love, even while waiting.

  19. brenda December 5, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    I have had some excellent results from reading and practicing the tips on how to pray for my husband by Stormie Omartie(sp) i used the cds and went to bed with it every night to make sure i would be faithful during some of the bleakest time.

  20. Dulce December 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Oh, Alise! This brought me to tears. In Spanish, to hope and to wait are the same word. I see the beauty of that in your post. Much love to you.

  21. Ashley December 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Thank you for speaking the words on my heart this winter season. They helped my hope carry on.

    - A daughter who is patiently waiting for her father and family to know her Heavenly Father

  22. Gary Ware December 6, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
    Job 2:12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
    Job 2:13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

    We are quietly with you.

  23. Erika December 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Alise. This piece of your heart here is so very mightily gorgeous. Thank you for giving it to us. Xx.

  24. Priscilla December 7, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    This is beautiful. I think I will write some of your words down in my journal to keep. I love the idea of sitting down with the waiting Elizabeth. Beautiful. Thank you!!

  25. Robin Dance December 8, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    “Wait” is a four-letter word; but how much do I love learning (from Dulce) that wait and hope are the same in Spanish? (a lot)

    Reading your post, then reading comments…and I’m convinced you’re in position of important ministry. I’d want to hurry where you are, but I’m thankful you’re encouraging others through it. Well done, friend.


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