Monday, March 7, 2016

Stumbling over Expectations

"Don't expect others to do like you do because they don't have the same heart as you." This saying resonates with me in more ways than I can express right now. These past couple of weeks for me have been full of disappointments, discontentment and left me feeling a little dissatisfied with life. I think one of the greatest stumbling blocks I face in my marriage, and in my relationships with others is the rock of expectations. I expect others to think the way that I think, to act the way that I act and to do the way that I do. I expect others to have the same mindset that I have. But all that kind of thinking does is lead me into a heap of disappointment, discontentment, and leaves me feeling dissatisfied with the life God has blessed me with.
What are expectations anyway? Are they all bad? Should we as Christians even have expectations?
Expectations are a hope that something will happen the way you want it to. It is like a farmer who plants a field and expects it to yield a crop. Can he be disappointed? What if the field doesn't yield the crop he expected it to? What if there is a drought and nothing grows? What caused him to be disappointed? His hope was in the results, in what he thought was going to happen, instead of being in God who is the Creator and Keeper of all things.
My mind is where all my expectations come from. They are the seeds that I want to plant in the field of my life. In my mind I have my own little Hollywood studio, where I cast the roles for all the people in my life. My mind produces all manner of scenes, movies, and TV sitcom's that I expect to happen in the real world. It's like I have my own television studio in my head, all for my very own viewing pleasure. But, when that scene I just produced does not turn out the way that I thought it would or the roles I cast for the people in my life don't use the lines I had given them, I get disappointed, discontented and dissatisfied with every single one of them. I get upset because I expected an outcome the way that I wanted it to happen, instead of allowing God to work and bring forth the fruit that He wanted. I wanted my results, instead of trusting God with them.
I am learning as I grow older that the more I expect someone to be a certain way, the more disappointed I am going to be in them, and in the end, in myself. For instance, (I am going to be really transparent here for just a minute) my husband and I are polar opposites. I am a highly motivated, got to keep moving, hyper active personality. I have always moved at a pace that is fast and I do not like to slow down. Relaxing to me seems like a waste of valuable time. We could be doing something. A relaxing weekend to me is a weekend filled with fun stuff I have always wanted to do. My husband, on the other hand, is not a motivated, active sort of person. I am the social butterfly, and he prefers the quiet comforts of home with little to no contact with the outside world. I tell people that if I had not married him he would have been content to be a hermit, and he wholeheartedly agrees with that statement.
When we went through pre-marital counseling my husband scored on the farthest side of being an introvert that anyone could score, and I was clear on the other side of the scale on the side of extrovert. Even our pastor at the time cautioned us that we might actually be too opposite to survive. But, 21 years later and we are still here, together, so I think in the end, God knew what He was doing.
My point is that my expectations are that someday my husband will suddenly change who he is and be just like me. He will be constantly moving, wanting to go here and there and everywhere and be around lots and lots of people. So, when I wake up in the morning, and he is not like that, I get disappointed and discontented and find myself unsatisfied with life. It's not his fault that I am disappointed, it's my fault because I expected him to be someone he is not. I expected him to be me, and he is not me. No one is me. I am me and God made me and God loves me too much to keep me as me. Amen?
My expectations, or the latest Hollywood special playing out in my head has no place in my spiritual life. Anytime we expect other to be like us, to think like us, to behave like us, we are going to find ourselves disappointed, discontented and dissatisfied with this glorious gift of life we have been given. I am not talking about our core, common beliefs as Christians. I am talking about those expectations that you have placed on others because that is how you would behave, that is how you would act, that is what you would think. God wants more for us than disappointed expectations. God does not want us to expect anything from man, because He knows man will always disappoint us, discourage us and leave us feeling hopeless. Instead, He wants us to be content with Him, to be satisfied in Him and to have hope that all our needs are met in Him alone. I can expect God to be who He is because He is God. He is holy. He is perfect. Man will never be any of those things.

Perhaps we would be less disappointed and find that contentment we seek if we would only learn the truth that expectations are false hopes formed in a vain attempt to fill needs only God can satisfy. Perhaps we would have less arguments, less disappointments,  and less discontentment in our relationships if we stopped expecting those same people to be someone other than who they were meant to be.