I want to start off this post by saying that I am not perfect. I don’t claim to be. I have a lot to work on. With that being said, I want to make it clear that most of the thoughts that I blog are just as much me preaching to myself as they are me trying to inspire others.
Today I feel this urge to talk about expectations. This is a subject that we all can relate to. We’ve all experienced expectations. We’ve all been on both the receiving end of expectations and on the pitching end. Today I want to talk about the latter rather than the former.
Expectations are human.
Expectations can be healthy.
For instance, I have the expectation that my children will be polite and courteous to others. This is a healthy expectation. To expect my children to be rude and self-centered would make me not a great father, I think.
I have expectations of how delicious my hot chocolate will be every time I get the crazy urge to drink hot chocolate (which isn’t often because it’s always such a letdown).
God has expectations of His church. He expects us to care for the poor, to show love to one another, to love all people, to spread His message, and to make disciples. These are just a few, but they are all healthy expectations. We should all strive to meet these expectations.
We project our expectations on to everyone that we come into contact with.
- We have expectations of our spouses.
- We have expectations of our children.
- We have expectations of our government officials.
- We have expectations of our religious leaders.
- We have expectations of our friends.
- We have expectations of our coworkers.
- We have expectations of ourselves.
This list could go on forever!
The particular lists of things that we expect from each of these people could go on forever as well!
The problem is that sometimes these expectations are not realistic, they are not effectively communicated, or we identify the other party by who we expect them to be instead of who they actually are.
Let me break the bad news to you:
Every single person that you will ever come into contact with is flawed. They have issues. They have the propensity to let you down and not meet your expectations.
EVERY….. SINGLE….. ONE!
How do I know this? Because they are formed with DNA. They breathe oxygen. They eventually have to go to the restroom just like you and I.
They are human!
The expectations that we impose on others is the ax with which we chop down the tree of appreciation.
(I made that up. You can use it if you’d like).
Expectations have the ability to injure.
The crazy thing is that we usually impose the most harmful expectations onto the people that we care about the most.
People who don’t care about us and that we have no relationship with could care less about our expectations of them. Actually, we generally don’t have any expectations of these people.
I feel so upset with myself when I don’t meet one of my wife’s expectations of me. I don’t want to let her down. I want her to be satisfied with me and content with my actions. When I don’t feel like I’m meeting these expectations, I want to fix it. It hurts.
The thing is, if those expectations aren’t reasonable, or if I had no clue that she had the expectation of me, then there is no possible way that I can even meet the expectation. It’s hopeless. In this case I am upset because I let her down, and she is upset because I let her down when the truth of the matter is that neither one of us should feel this way.
I sometimes have very high unrealistic expectations of my daughters. I often get frustrated with my nine-year-old for not performing the way that I would perform in a situation. She actually reacts to things like a nine-year-old at times! During these times I have to catch myself. It’s not fair for me to impose the expectation on my nine-year-old, that she have the maturity and response of a thirty-year-old.
I may have the expectation that my pastor is always available to talk to me, pray for me, or meet my needs. I may expect that he ALWAYS knows the right thing to say, he ALWAYS makes the right decision, and he NEVER does anything that isn’t pleasing to God.
These are unreasonable expectations! Why? Because he’s a human. He has to take a nap, have a brain-fart, or listen to a Justin Bieber song sometime.
As I said before, we have expectations like these for everyone in our lives.
There is only ONE who we should have expectations of perfection. That is Jesus.
I love Hebrews 7:28. It tells us that even the priests that we appoint over ourselves are just men with human weaknesses, but Jesus is perfect!
Maybe we need to stop leaning on our expectations of others for our happiness and our contentedness and start leaning on Jesus for this. Maybe if we (and I’m referring to myself as well) sought our fulfillment and our identity through our relationship with Christ, we would be able to appreciate our relationships with the people we care about, without holding them to such unrealistic expectations.
In essence, we can release those that we love from our unhealthy expectations, and appreciate them for who they are… flawed and imperfect human beings whom we care so much about.
- Then it would be OK if they let us down.
- It wouldn’t be Earth-shattering if they didn’t understand what we were communicating.
- We could let it slide if they had a moment of selfishness.
The cure for the letdown from unmet expectations, is not trying to justify your unhappiness with another’s failure to meet them….
- “You just seemed like the kind of person who would….”
- “I never expected you to….”
- “Of all of the people….”
- “I just figured….”
The cure for the letdown from unmet expectations is
One way that Merriam-Webster defines grace is “A temporary exemption.”
I love that!
Grace is hard sometimes. Sometimes grace takes a lot of effort! Sometimes we really stretch our efforts to justify NOT showing grace!
Why? Because we are human! Just like those who let us down. And grace is totally undeserved. It always has been!
But we were given grace by God when we didn’t deserve it. We were saved from death, Hell, and the grave when we absolutely did deserve those things.
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8
(One of my favs!)
Grace is amazing!
Grace can move mountains!
Grace can heal relationships, and ease hurt, and calm frustrations!
Grace can help you see people the way that you are supposed to see them, as humans!
In his book Grace, Max Lucado says:
“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.”
It’s easy for me to sometimes forget how much I appreciate someone when I’m caught up in them NOT meeting my expectations.
I want to release everyone that I love from the unrealistic expectations that I have for them.
I want to accept them as humans and accept their flaws.
I know that by releasing them, I will appreciate their good qualities even more.
Without my unrealistic expectations of them, I will be able to see the things that made me love them to begin with.
If I don’t expect my wife to wake up and cook me a big breakfast every single morning, I will greatly appreciate it when she takes it upon herself to make me a cup of coffee.
If I don’t expect my pastor to be perfect, I will appreciate his humanity even more.
If I don’t expect my neighbors to bring their barking dog into their house at 1 AM after it’s been barking non-stop for an hour and a half…..
no, I DO expect that. That’s not gonna change.
But you get the point. Let’s stop weighing the value of the people that we love and care about, against the expectations that we have placed on them without their agreeing to them.
Let’s start showing some grace.
Let’s find our happiness and identity in Christ.
Let’s give people a temporary exemption from our unhealthy expectations when they let us down.
Why do you think we place such high expectations on others?
Do you think that we hold ourselves to the same high expectations that we have of others?