I expect a lot out of life.
Have you ever gone to a church event that went perfectly well but at the end you left feeling a little flat? Or after a dinner out with your spouse where the conversation flowed freely, but once you were home you felt disappointment? Or after a holiday or birthday passes you just feel unfulfilled?
I have this penchant to build people, special events, or simple everyday happenings into perfect Hallmark movie quality caliber sequences in my mind.
Every meal out with my husband will involve hand holding and soul sharing.
My children will rise up and call me blessed and praise my cooking at the dinner table.
My hair will cooperate and look just like it did at the salon on Sunday mornings for church.
You see these expectations make nice daydreams, but they are rather unrealistic. I set myself up for disappointment when I expect more out of myself, others, or events than they are able or prepared to give.
Please don’t hear me say that we should not expect things.
Healthy expectations help us live intentionally toward holiness. But unrealistic expectations set us up for feelings of failure instead of victorious living. We need to run our expectations through a couple of filters.
First, is the expectation taking into account what is actually possible? I might expect my hair to look salon fabulous on Sundays, but I don’t have the same tools, products or skill level that my stylist does. Or I might expect my friend to drop everything and rush over due to my bad day, but she can’t because she has small children she has to care for.
Second, maybe my expectation is possible, but if the other party involved in the expectation is not willing to meet the expectation, it is still unrealistic. My children at this point of their lives at ages 2, 4, 6 and 8 are unwilling to eat casseroles without complaint or a stern face. I shouldn’t expect them to sing my praises about dinner when I mix things together they want separated by dividers.
I might expect certain people in my church to acknowledge how hard I worked to pull off an event, but these people have never done so before and are unable to see.
My expectations at times are not attainable.
Once we have arrived at a healthy expectation, we then have to state it out loud to the others that expectation involves.
If I want to have a soul-sharing kind of conversation on my dinner out with my spouse, and I know that he is emotionally able and willing to have such a conversation, then before we go out I should say, “Hey Tom, I’d really like if we could talk about x, y, and z at dinner tonight.” Then he knows what I expect. Knowing my husband, he will want to help me meet this expectation. If I state my expectation out loud, later I won’t get frustrated with him because he didn’t read my mind.
Healthy expectations take some work on our part. We must be willing to be honest with ourselves and with others. But this work, this honesty helps us live victoriously instead of in a constant state of frustration. I am praying that we can develop healthy expectations, my friends.
Cassie Fuerst is a quiet soul, who needs a lot of time and space to process life around her. She stays at home, acting as administrator of chaos for her four children. Her husband, Tom, has been in ministry for 10 years. She loves creating community by going to coffee with friends, having people in her home, and talking to people on the edges. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee.