Choose Not to Expect Too Much

June 9, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

Expectations can be relationship killers. When our expectations are unfulfilled or unrealistic, the result can be frustration, disappointment, discontentment, and even anger. Our expectations can hinder our relationship with friends, spouses, coworkers, and God. So let’s explore three aspects of expectations that will hopefully give us a clearer perspective on the subject: circumstances, people, and God.

Circumstances

Let’s say that life did not turn out the way you expected. Someone else got the promotion you deserved. You lost most of your money in a recession. You totaled your car. You broke your leg. A loved one died. Life is full of “unexpected” setbacks. Life can be tough. Life is full of health challenges, family upsets, work concerns, troubles, grief, pain, burdens, afflictions, and unfulfilled expectations. Being a Christian does not make us immune to life’s problems.

We have to look beyond circumstances to find contentment or joy. Paul shares what he learned in Philippians 4:12: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” He learned to live with unsatisfied expectations. Contentment doesn’t come when we have everything we want but when we are thankful for everything we have.

People

People are imperfect. You are a person; therefore, you are imperfect. People will let you down and you will let them down. Not necessarily intentionally, but realistically. If you are basing your happiness and contentment on the performance of others, you will be in a constant state of frustration. We need to let go of preconceived ideas of what we think others should or should not do. Cut people some slack. Don’t take everything that happens personally. Most people are not going out of their way to make your life miserable. They make mistakes – just like you.

Sometimes we place unrealistic expectations on others and vice versa. Even worse, we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. We strive for perfection instead of progress. Do we really think we can work full-time, look like J. Lo, have perfect children, go grocery shopping, do the laundry, and have immaculate houses? Get a grip! Who are we trying to impress? When we can’t live up to unrealistic expectations, we feel like failures. In God’s eyes, we are not failures. We are His beloved children. (1 John 3:1) We need to look to God, not people, for approval.

God

Many times we expect God to respond in a certain way. When He doesn’t, we doubt His love for us. A young woman might say, “If I do everything God tells me to do, God will bless me with a husband.” Maybe not. A middle-aged woman might say, “If I do everything God tells me to do, my daughter will marry a doctor and give me grandkids.” Maybe not. God makes no such promises. God promises to bless our lives, but that doesn’t mean He gives us everything we want. If we don’t get what we expect from God, will we still love and trust Him?

Habakkuk had determined to love and trust God even if all his crops failed and all his farm animals died. (Habakkuk 3:17 -19) Can we say the same?

What can we expect from God? We can expect God to forgive our sins, extend us grace, give us mercy, and love us. How He manifests this love may not fulfill our unrealistic expectations, but that does not diminish His love for us.

Consider this… If we let go of certain expectations, we cannot be disappointed. Do not expect any particular results from any given situation. This will allow us to give it our full attention without the pressure of living up to any preconceived ideas. We can turn it over to God and trust Him to take care of it.

One final thought… There’s an old saying: Expect nothing; appreciate everything. There may be a kernel of truth there. It would certainly make life easier.

 


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