Original Post Date: April 3, 2017
I was reading through a journaling app I downloaded in 2013 and came across the following entry:
“I always find myself running in circles, constantly chasing after something that will make and keep me happy. I look for it in people, work, and possessions, just to be disappointed time and time again because of my tendency to hold these things to expectations they were never meant to meet.”
Why in the world it took me four years to revisit and tackle this head on is beyond me, but God’s timing is perfect, His ways are higher, and He knows what we need to hear when we need to hear it.
I want to highlight the very end of the last sentence of my entry.
Our very lives are fueled by expectations. When I wake up, I expect my husband to be beside me. I expect the lights to turn on when I flip the light switch. I expect the water to run when I turn the sink handle. I expect my car to start when I press the fancy button. If we tried to keep count of how many expectations we hold throughout our days, we would probably lose count, simply because we are not aware of every expectation we have until they are not met. If Reagan is not beside me when I wake up, I experience confusion. If the lights and water do not turn on and my car does not start, I experience confusion AND frustration. I believe it’s fair to say that the self will within us does not take kindly to things not going the way we expected them to go. Can I get an amen?
Now, it is worth saying that expectations should not be ruled out altogether. Expectations can be healthy, motivational, and constructive…but they also have the potential to be unhealthy and damaging to yourself and those around you. A good indication of whether an expectation is healthy or unhealthy is to be aware of how you respond when it isn’t met. It is important that we do not allow unmet expectations to rule over our emotions and how we are going to respond in a given situation. Anybody else learn that the hard way?
A few weeks ago the Lord began to show me how damaging it could be to hold on to my expectations, especially when I bring those expectations into my interpersonal relationships. Most unhealthy expectations are, well, unspoken…which means the person on the other side of the expectation most likely has no idea what is being expected of him/her. If you are trying to discern whether an expectation is healthy or not, bring it to the light by saying it out loud. Verbally express the emotions you are feeling and in your own words express why you think you’re feeling it. Then respond to yourself. Whether we realize it or not, every expectation we have is tied to an experience, be it good or bad. It is worth digging into those expectations to discover the source and in turn create more solid and healthy ones.
I believe that Jesus does indeed have things that He expects from us. The Bible is clear on how Christians ought to live. I also believe that Jesus ALWAYS prioritizes our free will above the expectations He has of us. The expectations that Jesus has for us are out of His great love for us and for our well being. He doesn’t hold us to unrealistic expectations. Ever. He came to restore, not damage, our relationship with the Father. His love for us, however, is not tied to whether we meet His expectations or not. That’s called unconditional love. Everyone has fallen short of God’s best for their lives to some degree, but He loves us past our shortcomings. It is impossible to fully surrender our expectations until we understand this, and when we put our expectations (ALL of our expectations, both good and bad), in His hands, He will begin to show us what we could not see with our own way in the way. What expectations are you holding on to today? Jesus wants them, all of them. Give up and get free.
Christ as my anchor