I used to expect certain things out of life. I imagined the small house with the white picket fence like everyone does. I expected that when I tried to please someone they’d be pleased. I thought kindness would be returned. I thought my hard work would always result in adequate rewards. Then I woke up. Like Sleeping Beauty awakened by a kiss, I was a princess, a daughter of the king, but there was still a big, world filled with wanna-be spell-casters and dragons who wanted to insure I didn’t live happily-ever-after with my prince.
Expectations are a strange thing. We have an inner desire for perfection. We long for heaven from the very beginning—no sorrows, no tears, no pain, no death, every long fulfilled, every need satisfied, every moment magical.
Expectations are even stranger because they have a way of hanging out and hovering in the corners without us even thinking about them. If we were to put into words what we hope for/expect we would laugh-out-loud, but expectations are felt more than thought or verbalized, and that’s the problems.
I had (still have) huge expectations about three specific areas of my life: my marriage, my parenting, my service for God.
When I married there were many things I expected that I totally laugh about now. For example, when I was dating John he was always very neat. His apartment was clean. His items were tidy. He did his own laundry and cooked for himself. I don’t know why I got the idea, but I full expected that he’d continue on with these things—yes, the cleaning and laundry and cooking. I thought they were part of him and it would be awesome. Instead they were done out of necessity and once he was married … well, there was no need.
I also had huge expectations about my kids. I thought I would mold them and they would submit to my leading. I was fully disappointed when my adorable, chubby cheeked, curly haired daughter had a strong will. She wanted her way, not mine, and made that clear every moment of the day.
What was that about?
Then there was my service to God. I’d work for God and He would be pleased. I’d write a book and it would sell tons. I’d give a speech and every heart would be changed. I’d provide words of insight … and I’d always be thanked for my input.
Even today I battle expectations. And I’m learning that it helps to name them, to weigh them, and to decide if they are worth even a corner of my mind and heart. For example, lately I’ve been dealing with extending family—siblings, cousins, aunts. Many of them are still seeking/searching even though I’ve felt they’ve had the answer laid out to them many times. I was hard on myself, telling myself I need to do better—to reach out more, to speak more truth, to love and care and give. Surely then things would change. I expected (though I never verbalized it) that there was one thing I could say that would make all the difference. If I just came up with it, I could speak truth into their lies and the would see the error of their ways and commit fully to Christ in every aspect of their lives.
In the end, I realized (with the help of a friend) that they knew the truth. My preaching would get them no where. In fact, if I was trying to do the work of the Spirit. I was attempting to take their hands and lead them to the throne, when I’ve never been given that job. Instead of clinging to my expectations, clinging to the trust in myself to show them the right way, I needed to unclench those fingers and turn them palm upward. I need to surrender my family—those I loved—to Christ, praying for His work to be accomplished in His timing. Knowing that when, if, what I was supposed to speak would be made clear to me by the inspiration of the Spirit in my own live.