What is an expectation? ~ An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. It is also, a belief that someone will or should achieve something. An expectation is also…an assumption of what we believe(or want to believe~for that matter) to be true. Having expectations is a good thing, it provides structure to what we believe is acceptable and it sets a measurable standard. Standards help us form and achieve goals by providing a benchmark and are often developed from the values we hold firm to.
But what about when your expectations differ from the people around you, the people you live with, the people you love? At what point do we alter our expectations without lowering our standards or compromising our personal values?
I’ll admit, this is hard for me…
I grew up in a home with a lot of order, structure and high expectations. It comes as no surprise, that I see myself following the same path that originated in my family of origin. High structure, high responsibility and high expectations-rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat-in a subconscious attempt to mirror the way in which I was raised.
And oftentimes, my expectations aren’t met by those around me and particularly…by my children and some more than others. When this happens I experience a whole host of emotions; frustration, anger, fear, loss of control, feelings of disrespect and crippling anxiety.
Arguments ensue, voices are raised, consequences are established and punishments enforced, as I attempt to mold and form my children into the responsible, well mannered adults that I set out to raise, so many years ago.
And I ask myself, at what point are my high expectations becoming a barrier to loving my kids for who they are~ at the heart level?
Because sometimes changing our expectations, to meet a loved one where they are at-is the greatest act of love we can give- by letting go . Painfully and slowly, I am learning to sacrifice my expectations to maintain harmony and offer grace and love, as Christ did for me. Grace and love- instead of strife and tension- is where I want my home to be, my heart to be and my relationships to be.
Grace and love, anchored by our Father’s forgiveness, is what I pray for… day after day.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy , and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT
Sometimes adjusting our expectations comes from the softening of our hearts and is the divine work of the Holy Spirit when we submit our desires to God, in prayer. So this I shall pray for
Sometimes preservation of the relationship is paramount to maintaining rigid expectations. So in this I shall rest
Sometimes this looks like compromise, giving in and looking for the positive? So this I shall do more of
And that is when letting go becomes life giving~ putting breathe into our tired old habits and focusing on the person behind the behavior that left our expectations~unmet
Father in Heaven, lighten my heavy burden as I call out to you in sorrow. Soften my heart that strives desperately to cling to order and structure oftentimes, over relationships and love. Give me the wisdom to know when to act or when to speak and when to sit in quiet, waiting on your peace and guidance. Give me the courage to do the hard things you call me to, even when I don’t want to or when it seems in conflict with my desires. Most of all, continue to pour your love and forgiveness on me so I am better equipped to pour out on those around me. In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen