First off, I’m not talking about expecting like there’s another baby coming (I think our family is past that point…) But I have been thinking a lot about expectations lately. Here are a couple of the thoughts bouncing around in my head…
- When my expectations are exceeded, I am grateful/happy/excited. (I thought I was getting a second-hand bike and I got a brand new, top-of-line model)
- When my expectations are not met, I’m frustrated/hurt/angry. (I thought I was getting a new car for my 16 birthday, and I got a bike…perhaps even top of the line…just not a car.) (Matthew 20 is a good example of this)
- We are seeing each other for the first time in years…here is how I expect you to respond.
- I was sick, here is what I expect you to do for me.
- Today is a special day for me, here is what I expect people to do to acknowledge it.
- Here is how often I expect you to call/email/write/visit/etc me.
Most of us go throughout the day with expectations of others. The problem is, you tend not to tell me what your expectations of me are…I tend not to tell you what mine are of you.
Which means it’s pretty easy to spend large chunks of my time thinking about how my expectations have not been met. (I’m sure you never do that.)
About the time we were leaving Ithaca, I read something that really connected for me…it was just a short quote, but it basically said, “it’s not that people don’t care about you…or are against you, it’s just that they care more about themselves.”
(Wait…you care more about what’s going on in your life, than what’s going on in mine? But don’t you understand how important my life is? I mean if my life was a sitcom, I’d be the central character.)
It is easy for us to have our expectations unmet, and ascribe very unkind motives to those who have fallen short (how can they be so self-centered, to not focus on what I want?) Or we could recognise, they aren’t against us…they’re just more concerned about what is going on in their lives than mine. (Kind of like, I’m more concerned about, and focused on what’s going on in mine than I am in your’s…there, I said it.)
Which makes me wonder how many people are frustrated with me because I failed to meet their expectations.
Which makes me hope that they can extend me a lot of grace.
Which makes me recognise that I should be extending a lot of grace as well.
How do you keep from allowing unmet expectations to drag you into a pit?