Are Your Expectations Hurting or Helping?
Expectation is a powerful thing. It’s so key in dreams being fulfilled and goals being reached. But expectations can also cause great disappointment, if I’m mistaken in my expectations.
I’ve always had high expectations. You can ask my parents about when I was a tiny child, or you can ask my husband about the way I am still today! I’ve never had a problem knowing what I want and what I don’t want, what I think is good and what I think is not good enough. If there is a wall or an obstacle between me and something I think is right or best, I’m going to push through that, around it, over it or under it. Or at least give it my absolute best shot!
What are some of our expectations?
The way it has always been.
The way we think it should be.
We expect our lives will include certain people.
We expect certain people to behave a certain way or do certain things.
And then we go after those things to try to make them happen. We think that if we love enough, help enough, pray enough… then __________ will eventually happen.
But sometimes in life there are unmet expectations. The things we’ve EXPECTED don’t happen. Or they don’t happen by a certain time that we judge appropriate. Or they’re happening, but they don’t look anything like what we thought they would.
No matter how strong my will is, I discover that try as I might, I CAN’T WILL THINGS INTO BEING.
I don’t get that job.
that person I want to marry doesn’t want to marry me.
that extended family member still does not understand how their behavior hurts me.
my family doesn’t and maybe never will see me for who I really am.
that person I love, who I’ve invested into and prayed for needs to go on a journey that’s different than what I thought was best for them.
I haven’t achieved what I thought I should have achieved by now.
Writer and speaker Havilah Cunnington says, “We create our own heartbreak through our own expectations.”
Our hearts are broken because we’ve placed our expectations on shaky ground.
We place our expectations on the ground:
that is based on others’ choices and free will.
of my performance (which sometimes is on par and sometimes is off – I can make mistakes).
of my abilities – to strangle something to the ground or to create something that doesn’t exist today.
of circumstances I can’t control and that God doesn’t expect me to.
Sometimes the things we fight for are not the things we really need or even really want. We just think we do.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t expect the things God has promised us. Biblical “hope” -is defined as “expectation.” But, we often have our own idea of HOW those desires God has given us, and, those requests we’ve made to God must come about. And WHEN.
Can we highlight some areas in our lives where we need to be freed from our own expectations? Maybe:
a relationship you have your heart set on
an idea of something you really want
your own standards and expectations you’ve placed upon yourself
your own standards and expectations you’ve placed on others in your life
Where do you feel the BURDEN of expectation? Where does your expectation feel heavy and disappointing?
1. Grieve well.
Grieve – to feel sorrow over the loss of something. Sometimes the loss or grief we feel is simply over our EXPECTATION of something – not even something we held in our hands.
Proverbs 13:12 “hope deferred makes the heart sick” …unfulfilled expectation.
My family has recently moved back to the USA from overseas, to Detroit, to plant a church. I have been guilty within my mind and heart of having too many of my own expectations. Because I’m strong willed, I’ve had some pretty clear ideas of what I wanted and how I wanted it to be (for me, for my family and for the church) and by when. I guess we all do that, but at times, these expectations get out of hand and begin to cloud our view and choke our hearts. They mess with our ability to love people, simply and freely, and they mess with our ability to trust God fully. So, they have to be brought to the surface and grieved. They have to be peeled from our hearts so that we can move into what is actually good, and is there right in front of us. Maybe you can identify.
I’ve needed to pray prayers like, “God, you promised me __________, but you never said that it would be exactly __________ or that it would look like __________ or that it would be by this __________ time.”
LET GO. Grieve well. Grieve what might have been, what could have been. Grieve what still may be, but isn’t today. And that burden of expectation breaks off of you. Relief.
2. Forgive, if the situation requires.
“forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
To FORGIVE means to stop FEELING angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw or mistake. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
When you’re feeling angry, resentful and hurt – have you actually been wronged, or is it just that people haven’t fulfilled expectations of what YOU thought they should do?
Communicate where necessary (and never put up with abuse!) but where you can identify your expectations as the problem, lift those expectations off of people! Knowing that as we forgive (flaws, mistakes and offenses), we each need to be forgiven for things too – because we all offend, have flaws and make mistakes. And sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for those things.
…When I pass through forgiveness, I find myself in a place of .…
“Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together. Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful.” Colossians 3:13-15
Gratefulness feels like gardening. Moving the soil, planting seeds, watering… As we’re grateful for what we already have, then the things we’re longing for – our “expectations” – can grow up FROM that soil of gratefulness.
When you wake up from your own expectations, you see the beauty of what is growing right in front of you. Let go of your own expectations to make room for what God wants to give you, for better things He’s been ready to give you all along. We need to let go of the control of how we are expecting God to work in our lives, and LET Him fulfill His promises to us.
In the next post we’ll look at where we need to securely place our expectations.