The Problem with Expectations


Jesus did not commit Himself unto them for He knew what was in man. — John 2:24-25

The longer I live and the more I talk to others, the more I come to realize how much trouble unrealistic expectations can cause.

I know that I set myself up for disappointment when I start expecting things to turn out the way I want them to and when I expect a certain behavior of others.

Expectations also cause problems when others put their expectations on me.

I guess it is a human tendency - but it can cause such pain.

I remember a story by Leo Buscaglia that told about the time he learned the dangers of expectations.  He tells of a childhood memory. It was Christmas and he was looking at the tree in his living room, gaily decorated and loaded with treasures wrapped beneath its boughs.  One package in particular caught his attention.  It was the largest under the tree and had his name on it.  He sat and dreamed of the many things it could be.  He grew more and more excited.

I  don't recall exactly what was in the box, but I remember it was nothing like he had dreamed it would be.  It was something "useful" (nothing a child wants for Christmas!) and left him profoundly disappointed.  He learned the hurt of expectations that day.

I think life is like that sometimes.  We approach things with expectations of how life will be - and end up disappointed as our path takes us in other ways.

Similarly, when we fail to live up to the expectations of others, we can feel like a failure - or we might be viewed as having failed others and be rejected.

Buscaglia had some great quotes.  While not Scripture - I think they line up with God's word:

"Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love."

"The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position."

"Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations."

It's hard to stop living a life full of expectations placed on others.  It's just as challenging to realize that we can never live up to the expectations of others.

The grace in all of this?

We have God.

We can trust His promises.

He is the only one who will never leave us or forsake us.

He understands our humanness  -

and loves us anyway.

Father God, Thank you that You and You alone will stand by us faithfully.  You know exactly what we can and cannot do.  Help us to live to please You and You alone.  Amen and amen. 


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