4 Life-Changing Holiday Words [Figuring out Holidays? Life? What’s Next? Where To Go? These 4 Life-Changing Words Are a Compass Forward)

So this kind woman turned to me last week and asked me where I wanted to go.

What did you want to see, what do you want to do — what way have your set your broken heart on? 

And before I could really think, the words were out of my mouth,  like breath that only just the moment before had been in the lungs, giving life.

Just four words:

“No expectations. Only gratitude….  because all is grace.”

And the woman tilted her head like something, everything, had shifted.

She reached out and touched my arm and we paused, stilled.

“What if we just lived that?”

Then she whispered the quartet of words like a steadying refrain, like a line that could realign everything precariously leaning.

“No expectations. Only gratitude.”  Because all is grace.

Words can come from beyond, from out of thin air, like the moment itself is a thin place, God Himself glancing nearest where we’re stretched right thin.

She says it again, but as she says the words —

I am back remembering how I once ran away to the shore, sat with my feet at the edge of the water, and dreamed of a different life, one with easy, wide roads.

Why did it take me so long to find out that none of the worthwhile roads are wide?

I have traced the edges of my broken heart: When I expected things to go a certain way, entitlement became my way.

Now, sure, it’s true, and I’ve known it both ways: When you don’t think others are treating you well — sometimes other’s behaviour is deeply wrong — but sometimes it’s your own thinking that is wrong.

Sometimes when you think God’s not working your life out well enough — you decide to cut yourself another piece of the pie. And no one tells you: When you decide to cut yourself another piece of the pie, you can end up cutting your own heart. Are old wounds always fresh wounds if they won’t stop bleeding?

When I think back, the story, for me at least, has always been:

Every temptation speaks the language of entitlement.

The soul’s enemy has always hissed entitlement: “You deserve it.” And it’s turned out: Deciding you’re deserving, can lead to your destroying. I have traced all kinds of scars of my own doing, and I have quietly wondered if:

It’s not an overstatement to say that the root of all kinds of evil is entitlement.

I have sat in the dark under stars and wished with all my broken heart that I had known only that far sooner.


The choice for every heart is always, always, always this:

God’s enthronement or my entitlement.

Live feeling entitled to things — or live entrusting everything to God.

Entitlement devastates, suffocates, incarcerates.

Contentment liberates.

My friend smiles and winks: “Well, it we’re just going to make that our compass for the day: No expectations — only gratitude —  because all is grace. So I think, then, where we should go, what we should see — is just kinda simple — let’s  just head to the windmill!”

And when we end up standing under the windmill’s sails, watching the gears of things, the way of things, the unpredictable movement of wind through the being of things, I feel this letting go:

Expectations are next to entitlement, and gratitude is next to godliness.

And there’s light in the trees if you look up, there are all these raised limbs, and there’s this way of the wind through the world: Our God, no one can compare with You. … You think of us all the time with your countless expressions of love— far exceeding our expectations!”  (Ps 40:5)

When God exceeds all expectations, why have any other expectations? 

Why want for anything more — when Jesus is everything now?

It’s the one thing you can always count on, always expect:

Always expect grace.

You can always expect grace to meet you, carry you, remake you, save you.

No expectations, only gratitude….

Because all is grace. 

And the sails of the mill turn, surrendered to the ways of the wind —- and no matter how things move, there is always grace that moves the willing to give their wholehearted thanks to the One who moves all things.