after so very many years on this planet, you would think that i would have learned that a vast majority of all the disappointments i have had in life have been because reality neither matched nor exceeded the expectations that i held.

why am i surprised by this?

i have a good imagination. so many nights as a child waiting to fall asleep, instead of counting sheep—which i never saw the merits of— i would concoct marvelous stories in my head where i would be the heroine and not only save the world of monsters, aliens and all sorts of evil, but look very stylish doing it. {yes, even as a child, saving the world was equally as important as having good hair}. and when you add to this imagination, the unlimited resources of a rich dream life, well, anything is possible.

everyday-variety real life scarcely has a chance to compare.

"Expectations kill relationships." Ann Voskamp quotes her mother in her beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts. since reading it, this sentence has stuck in my head for days, slowly bring my world of unrealistic expectations versus everyday life reality to the forefront of my mind.

Expectations kill relationships.

there are so many situations flooding my mind where unmet expectations—both on my part and that of others—has strained, bruised and even ended relationships.

including my relationship with God.

how many times have i asked for something, already believing that it should be mine?

how often in the dark of night, illuminated only by the blue haze of the alarm clock, have i rehearsed all the things that i should have?

not to mention those times when it almost seems like i am fighting God to try to get my heart's desire, Him being the proverbial bad guy, one hand holding my dreams away, the other hand holding my head at a arms length as my own arms flair to reach what is not rightfully mine?

this morning in my Life Journal reading, Mark wrote about Jesus' disciples trying to keep children away from Him, so as not to bother him. but Jesus wanted the children near Him. perhaps because of the fun they bring. maybe their laughter. but perhaps, it was because they came to Him without expectations. they didn't want anything from Him, they were just there.

a part of me wonders that if in their lack of expectation, in their innocence, with wonder still fully intact, if those children saw more of a glimpse of the God part of Jesus than all the adults standing around, eyes clouded with expectations of what this teacher could do for them, ever could have.

this child-like, expectation-less, wonder-filled way is the how i want to live my life.


Valerie said...

I have to humbly disagree with you on this one.

I believe expectations are never really the culprit in our failed relationships with people. Rather, it's that we are poor communicators and neither party is ever quite sure what the other expects. Expectations are important because it keeps us accountable to one another, and pushes us to be better. Work relationships with our employers often breakdown due to failure to set clear expectations. We let our partners down when we fail to let them know what we expect when we say things like "I'm ok with whatever you want" when we don't really mean that at all.

It's when we fail to live up to those expectations that we see clearly the tenacity of the relationship. Genuine relationships endure despite unmet expectations. Acceptance and forgiveness of each others' failures are evidence of substance in our relationships. A world with no expectations is one of apathy and disinterest.

I think it's important for us to expect something from God too. After all, He promised us justice, mercy, grace, love, provenance. Children expect their parents to love, nurture, teach, and help them grow. In the same way, I agree we can adopt that child-like attitude of trusting and expecting that God will be all those things for us. Perhaps we're stuck on what those things look like, and that's when we get disappointed. If provenance doesn't take the form of a promotion, we feel let down. Or we put up blinders to His love when we don't receive healing. We mistake punishment for justice.

I'd like to think He expects great things from me too :)

susanne said...


agreed that there should be a level of expectation within the human race, and especially the family of God. but perhaps i see these basics as less expectations, and more the foundation of relationships. i would never say to a new friend, "this is what i expect of you..." the word 'expect' carries a lack of relationship with it. as you get to know someone more and more, you come to know what is important to them, and the way you interact takes shape around the individuals.

when i turn the key in the ignition, i expect the car to start. when i put my bank card in the ATM, i expect to be able to access the funds there. when i dial the telephone, i expect it will begin ringing at the other end of where i've dialed. but i have a relationship with none of these things. they are inanimate objects that serve a specific purpose. the same cannot be said of humans.

when i run into a friend, i don't expect them to smile and chat with me, but i am hopeful that they will. to expect them to do what i want them to do holds them captive to my expecations, without me knowing the whole story of what is going on in their life at that moment. expectations are one-sided and i truly believe that they crowd and choke relationships. depending upon what is going on in someone's life, perhaps a smile and nod is the best they can do in that moment. for me to walk away wounded because i expected more is my issue.

not to mention that my expectations for someone and their own—and God's—expectations for themselves may be complete opposites!

the same with my relationship with God. yes, had has promised us things, and i know that he loves me, but His gifts will not look the same in my life as they do in yours, or anyone else's. Hebrews chapter 11 is an excellent reminder that all God's children are not treated the same way. the moment i start expecting God to do what i want him to, give me what i want, and feel entitled to the gifts he gives, then my expectations have lead me astray.

as for God's expectations of me, i am eternally grateful for His word, and that i only need study it to discover how He would have me live.

Anonymous said...

This is such a heartfelt, profound post, Suzi.

"those times when it almost seems like I am fighting God to try to get my heart's desire, Him being the proverbial bad guy, one hand holding my dreams away, the other hand holding my head at a arms length as my own arms flair to reach what is not rightfully mine?

Wow…well said. I can relate. Those times when I've tried to reach out for what isn't mine (or isn't mine yet in His timing) have been less than enjoyable. The perspective that God is somehow holding out on us, is so wrong. I've come to realize that He has reasons for what He does and I may or may not be given understanding. The reality is that God is good, regardless of what I think I should or shouldn't have in my life. He really is for us, wanting what's best for us - His best. I've learned (through some times of pain) that waiting for His best really is best, and a lot less painful. There may be pain in the waiting, but it doesn’t compare to the pain of believing an untruth about the God who loves me, who sacrificed everything for me. There’s a difference between having the expectation of love from God and demanding whatever we want, when we want it.

As for expectations with other people, I agree. I think we need to meet people where they are, honestly and with grace. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned after 16 + years of marriage that the times I’ve had hard and fast expectations are the times I’m most disappointed. Clear communication is essential to maintaining relationship. We simply can’t read each other’s minds (even if as a woman, I hope that my husband knows me well enough that he’d just know what I’m thinking or need). It’s unfair to him to expect him to just know.

I think the key in relationships is to be other centered. When we focus on ourselves, we’re self-centered, requiring or demanding from others our spoken or unspoken expectations. Jesus’ example is one of love and self sacrifice; sacrificing desires or expectations to meet others needs. Bottom line, as followers of Christ, we should be of the mind that people don’t exist to serve us. We shouldn’t approach others with the expectation that they should. Rather, we should be looking for ways to show His grace.

Great post, my friend. Really enjoyed reading it.


Cora from Hidden Riches said...

I just loved "old ladies of great faith!" I'm getting old, and I hope someday I, too, have great faith, and the courage to share it with younger women and be a mentor. I'm so proud of all these young "ladies of great faith" who have chosen NOT to follow a lost and shallow world and to see where their gratitude and thanks lie. Thank you for your post today and your list! It's such a blessing to me!

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