I need to preface this post by telling about my morning. A typical Tuesday morning has Granddad at a production meeting with the team from church. This morning he wanted the both of us to have a quick breakfast at Burger King, then he would head on to the meeting at Starbucks in the same shopping center. We had all of 5 minutes to sit together before his 7am meeting. I had brought pen and paper to do some writing (blog post). And I also brought the book I've been reading on "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore. After I wrote this post, I picked my book up and flipped to the middle of chapter 2 where I had left off from about 3 weeks ago. Low and behold ... she talked about unrealistic expectations! This was my God-moment!!! So, for whatever reason, God brought everything around to this topic for me this morning. I hope it can be used in some way.
Expectations. There you go ... I said it. I used to detest that one word. There was a point in time when that was the one word that grated on my very last nerve. Expectations. (Sorry, but I just had to get it out again.) Truth of the matter is, however, we all have them. We expect certain grades in school to pay off for our hours of study time. We expect to nail the perfect job that will bring us contentment as we support our families. We expect our families to be role model citizens and stay perfect in the eyes of our friends and community (I've been there). Sometimes, we may even (albeit perhaps unknowingly) expect from others what we either cannot or will not expect from ourselves. We expect ... we expect ... we expect. Ouch. I'm hitting in my own ballpark now. Why am I even writing this????
Nevertheless, expectations can be a blessing ... and a curse (Monk may be ocd, but he may have just nailed this one). Expectations help us set goals for ourselves, our families, our communities, our churches, our businesses, and the list goes on. Without them, how do we know that we're growing and moving forward? They give us a point of reference to keep our eyes focused to what lies ahead.
But, expectations can also be a curse (in Monk's definition). This occurs when we set unrealistic expectations. I for one get extremely frustrated when I haven't lived up to my own (unrealistic) expectations. A little scenario: The 40 lbs. that has been attached to me for the past 10 years just doesn't want to vanish. I set my expectations to lose that '40' and give myself 2 months to do it. At the end of the 2 months, I'm disappointed that I've only lost 5 lbs (even if that
much, uh, little.) I'm not only disappointed, but I feel defeated and depressed as well. The 40 lbs. is a lot to take on all at once. No wonder I failed to meet my own expectation! However, if I break that 40 lbs. down into a smaller, more attainable number, then I can handle it better. I'll lose 2 lbs. this week. Then, at the end of the week, I set a goal of another 2 lbs., and actually start getting healthier in the process. BINGO -- I now have an attainable goal to work toward!
Sometimes I can be my worst enemy. Yes, me. I set myself up to fall. And at that point, it's harder (if not impossible) for me to see God working through and using me for His glory. Each one of us has our own gifts and talents and experiences for Him to work through. I (we) need to allow Him to do the work that He has set out to do in and through me (us).
Now, I am definitely not saying that expectations have no purpose. On the contrare, expectations have great purpose ... if we set realistic ones. Sounds simple ... but this may be the greatest downfall in many aspects of our everyday lives. There's times when I don't even realize that I've set myself up for failure. Or that I've set someone close to me up for failure (in my eyes, that is). This is when frustrations settle into my living space -- me. So, I'll give up. This spurs more frustrations. Then more unrealistic expectations. (See the cycle I get myself in to?)
Something I've learned recently -- set realistic expectations within a realistic time frame. Rome wasn't built in a day ... it took a long time to pack on that extra 40, so it's going to take time to take it off ... anything worth having takes time ... But, most importantly ... He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it to the end. God hasn't given up on me ... and neither will I.
Another aspect that I'm pondering ... what about the unspoken expectations we place on others? I'm still learning about this one. A little at a time ...