Monday, October 19, 2015

Expectations Musing


When I was a teacher in the Fort Worth School District, they encouraged us to always give our students clear expectations.  My students would then know what was expected of them so they could hopefully live up to those exceptions.  We all have expectations.  Some of them are spoken and others are unspoken.  Some of them are realistic and many are not.  When you move to a new place, you have expectations.  You might try not to have exception especially unrealistic ones but you do have some type of expectations.  In this new season of mine, I have been thinking a lot about expectations.  Here are some of the lessons I am learning or relearning. 


1. Clear expectations are important.  


If I need something done or have a request,  it is imperative to be clear on what is expected.  Living in a culture that is not my own, it often takes two or three tries but I need to keep trying if my expectation is important to me.  With students and my children, clear expectations are especially important. I have a clear expectation with W and Big that they will Skype with their mom once a week.  No excuses.  For my daughter, it is the same time every week.  For Big D, the time of the call changes, but the result is the same.  We connect once a week via Skype. 

Clear expectations with spouses are also important.  I wish my husband could pick up all the hints I think I am giving.  Should he just read my mind, but I am learning if I expect something from my husband then I need to tell him.  One of the things my husband and I were looking forward to the most in our move to our new city was the opportunity to go walking and exploring on the weekends.   Right after we moved, my husband was gone to the states for almost three weeks. When he returned, I voiced my expectation and need to venture on one of those walks we had been anticipating.  It blessed me to have my husband make our walk a priority even when other things were trying to foil my expectation. 


2. Some Expectations are Unrealistic. 

A realistic expectation is to have a toilet that works when you move into your house. ( I hope that is a realistic expectation!)  An unrealistic expectation is to expect for that toilet to never break or some other plumbing issue not to come up.  But sometimes expectations are tricky.  What is realistic to one person may not be realistic to another.  One spouse may think it is realistic for the other spouse to always change the dirty diapers while the other spouse thinks it should be fifty-fifty.  One friend thinks being a good friend is getting together every week while another is okay with getting together once in a while.   

When expectations are unmet, we need to examine whether those expectations were realistic or unrealistic.  Even if they were realistic, we are still responsible for how we deal with our disappointment.   This is easier said than done.  While my husband was gone last month, I had an expectation of getting my water bottle for my clear water replaced, and the water bottle placed by my door.  It ended up being a bigger drama than it needed to be.  I felt neglected and uncared for.  Was I really neglected and uncared for?  No, but that was my perception, and I needed to deal with that wrong perception. The funny thing is that I am still have issues with getting my water bottle replaced.  I guess God is trying to teach me something.  Was my expectation realistic?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Either way, I should have dealt with the unmet expectation with less emotion than I did. 

3. Sometimes I Expect People to Meet a Need that God Wants to Meet.

When my husband was gone, I keep thinking that when he returned everything would be great.   The Friday before he returned,  I spent the morning reading and praying and worshiping.  God met me that morning and reminded me that some of the expectations that I was having could and should be met my Him.  Yes, it would be great having my husband home, but there are some things that only God can do.  My husband coming home was not going to necessarily make life all great.  It is pretty great having him home though.  

It is also important to remember that God sometimes lets our expectations be unfulfilled by others so that we will go to Him in our need.  I have had seasons when friends were not available in my need not because they didn't want to be, but because they couldn't.  Those seasons were seasons of great growth for me.  In those seasons, I saw God in a whole new way.  

4. I Often Put Expectations on God.

We can expect God to love us.  We can expect God to always be holy.  We can even expect that God wins in the end.  But how often, do we have unrealistic expectations about God?  We want our prayers answered a certain way and on our time table.    Subconsciously, we try to control God or put Him in a box.  This is really hard when you are in a unknown season.  Praying with open hands takes a faith that only God can give.  Right now our team is praying for written flight permissions and for the security of the country where we live.  God is sovereign and in control but that does not mean that things will turn out how I want them to.  The great thing is that God's promises are sure and true even in uncertain times.  

5. My Happiness is Not Dependent on My Expectations Being Met.

The solution is not having any expectations.  The solution is having grace and forgiveness when expectations are not me.  We have to figure out how to not base our happiness on our expectations.  Face it.  We often don't meet our own expectations of ourselves.   How can we expect others to always meet our expectations?  Besides, half of the time those expectations may not even be realistic.   May our identity and joy come from God-who He is and what He has done.  May we not base our joy on met expectations but on the truth of God's word.  May our hope be in God and his son Jesus not in people and our expectations of them.  

How do you deal with unmet expectations?  Do you think we should set expectations?  I would love to hear your thoughts and lessons.


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