Tag Archives: expectations

face to the sun

Melissa @ awriteheart.comSometimes those around us let us down. Sometimes we don’t live up to what others want or need from us. And sometimes we’re just failing ourselves.

Around 11am some mornings I look at the clock and panic because of what I haven’t accomplished. I literally become anxious because I know my time is limited, and Jude has watched too much TV, and I have no dinner plan. I get angry at myself because of the waste I’ve made of the morning. And then I look back on the last few days and weeks and years and get all the more angry at what I have failed at. I haven’t changed the way I wanted to, haven’t improved the way I wanted to, haven’t excelled the way I wanted to. In the past I see failed relationships, failed attempts at reconciliation, failed attempts at success, missed opportunities, and a ton of wasted time. Things look the same as they did six months ago so I get discouraged. I look at Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest, and I see just how deficient I am compared to all of the other crafty, spiritual, published, master-chef wives and moms out there. The ones who squeeze every drop of life out of every single minute have me beat.

Epic. Fail.

Or at least sometimes that’s what I feel like.

I’m not the only one – I know it. The expectations I have of myself aren’t what I produce, and that probably applies to all of us on some level. But get this…please get this. God loves to tell His story through the things that I am the least proud of. He loves to take the expectations I had and replace them with what He wants for me – something better than what I so thoughtfully planned.

We have plenty of examples of how Jesus uses the least of men to tell His story in the grandest ways. Peter in particular comes to mind…Peter was a friend of Jesus’, who sat with Him and ate with Him and walked on water with Him, but then abandoned Him. He hid like a coward. But when Christ rose from the dead and Peter saw Him, he became a different man – bold, faithful, unashamed, and unstoppable. We think of him as an author and an apostle, a leader, and a martyr. But who was he in that horrible moment when he denied knowing his Lord and his friend? He was three times a failure. Who knows what Peter thought of himself after he denied Christ…I can imagine he was reliving that moment, wishing he were a stronger man and a better man – just like we look back and wish things out of our own pasts.

This changes everything.

Doesn’t it change everything to know that God uses the worst of our lives for His glory? It changes the way we view ourselves to know that even at our lowest, He can turn it around. It changes the way we see the future to know that even if we blow it, He can use it. Even if circumstances don’t allow us to get to the place we wanted to go, He can take us to places we never imagined.

[pullquote type=”right”]If I give Him every failure, for each one He will give me back another story to tell of His amazing grace.[/pullquote]My first marriage ended – a big, unexpected, ugly fail. But the day it was officially over, I remember walking outside into the June breeze, face to the sun. I breathed deep and thanked God for a new day. My life wasn’t over, and I knew that the story of how Christ saved me – not only from sin and death but from despair and hopelessness – would be all the richer because of it. Sure enough, this piece of my life story has been one of my biggest footholds into the lives of broken people, and it has allowed me to tell God’s story in my life more times than I can remember. If I give Him every failure, for each one He will give me back another story to tell of His amazing grace. In some circles, I might be considered somewhat of an outcast…but thankfully God sees my position as a door through which His message can be delivered.

Be encouraged…

…and breathe a deep breath with the assurance that God can use whatever life you’re living. If change is what you need, then ask Him for strength. If you’re going in the wrong direction, then turn around . If you’re stuck by no fault of your own, know that He sees it. Lay your broken life at His feet and get ready for the story God’s preparing you to tell.

~Standing on the Promises, Melissa~

expectations: when you are the target

expectations: when you are the target

Melissa @ awriteheart.com

Last week I wrote about expectations and how Christ is the only One who can live up to what He promises (see my King and my expectations). This week let’s look at another aspect of the same topic – when we are the target of someone else’s expectations.

I am a woman of many titles, as I’m sure most of you reading this are. I’m a wife, mom, daughter, grand-daughter cousin, friend, employee, consumer, and so on, and along with each of those roles comes an unofficial mental list in the minds of others…a list of expectations. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily…These lists are based on past experiences, on history, on tradition, on culture, on what a person wants another person to be. And they follow us everywhere we go.

[pullquote type=”right”]We all feel the pressure of those expectations, whether we know if or not.[/pullquote]We all feel the pressure of those expectations, whether we know if or not. They act as a motivator in a lot of ways, and that is a positive thing – without outside forces and expectations, some of us less driven types may not accomplish much. For instance, I don’t exercise without a coach…not because I can’t do it, but because I lack internal discipline. I need someone to tell me what to do and expect results, and then I will submit and work toward a goal. But the expectations of others can work havoc in us too, if they are not balanced with what our Lord God actually expects from us, and with what we can reasonably live up to.

When I had each of my children, I didn’t realize how much pressure I would feel from the desires and preferences of others – but I did and still do at times. As a wife sometimes I feel helpless in my endeavors to meet my husband’s expectations, and ironically to meet the expectations of other wives. As a friend there have been times when I felt angry because of someone’s expectations of me to maintain the relationship by myself. As a Christian I’ve felt humiliated because I’ve failed to be that perfect cookie-cutter person someone expected me to be. On a social level I feel pressured to live up to an unspoken economic expectation.

How do you react to the expectations of others? My reactions have been pretty “prickly” in the past, but I think when taken to heart we can effectively use expectations to mold us and shape us into better (and definitely more humble) people. How should we respond? Here are seven thoughts that we can use to help us navigate this aspect of our lives:

1. Know your authority.

As satisfying as it sounds to say that God is our final authority in the face of others’ expectations, this is probably the toughest step – to come face to face with what God really wants from you in a particular circumstance. Someone expects you to listen to their gossip? God has your back, but He also has a lofty expectation of how you should lovingly deal with it. Also remember that there are those that He placed in authority over us, other than Himself. Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-39 that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others, and when we respond to expectations we need to do so with the intent of carrying out those two commandments.

2. Know your enemy.

The devil wants to destroy your relationships so that you have no influence. He wants to use you to discourage others. He wants you distracted enough not to be effective for Christ. At the end of the day, despite what is inflicted upon us, we have a choice to obey God or not…The enemy would love nothing more than to give you a “good reason” to justify sin and division between you and someone else. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil waits to devour us, and if he sees a moment of weakness you can be sure he’ll take full advantage.

3. Know the source.

Expectations come from many sources, but considering that is helpful. Each of us has our own baggage and weakness, and there are things that perhaps we can concede in the name of peace and unity. If someone who has been abandoned in the past is particularly clingy, and expects you to be ever present for them, at the very least you can empathize. The relationship may indeed need boundaries, but with some background knowledge certainly we can deal much more effectively with a person, and perhaps more effectively meet their needs in a way that makes everyone happy. It pleases the Lord when we can live in unity with others (Psalm 133:1), and we as His followers should make every attempt to do so.

4. Be humble, and be coachable!

People who tell us what they want from us or even criticize our actions might have something good to add to who we are. Perhaps the expectations are valid, or perhaps by following through you will grow from fulfilling them. Be quick to listen (James 1:19-20), and don’t discount something just because it wasn’t your idea.

5. Know your limits, and be gracious about laying down the law.

There are times when we reach our limit of what we’re capable of doing, and I usually reach it around the holidays. My family will attest that holidays and birthdays are challenging for us, and I (the only-child and loner at heart) am particularly sensitive to family drama. It’s a sticky thing to cater to every person’s vision for those days. But we’re getting there by trying new things, and by asking each other what might work better. In the past we have made some pretty epic mistakes by dealing harshly, but in truth it never, ever yielded a good result to draw lines in the sand. Be creative, and offer alternatives when you feel that you can’t possibly do any more.

6. Be thankful for the role you have in the lives of others.

My kids expect certain things because I’m their mom; my husband expects certain things because I’m his wife; my boss expects certain things because I’m his employee. These are good roles…Overwhelming at times, but good. If anything, remember that your roles are unique privileges to teach, to minister, and to show others who Christ is.

7. What about the unreasonable?

And what about when people expect from us what they won’t give themselves? What about those who are underserving? The same considerations apply, and with some prayer and honest reflection you’ll probably find that your obligation to these expectations is pretty much the same as it is to those that come from those we consider the most deserving. One of the things I love the most about Jesus is that he openly served the lowest of society. But the difficult reality is that we are now here to be His representatives, swift to serve the lowly and undeserving, so that His story can be told through us. He came to save sinners…the underserving…US!!! (1 Timothy 1:15). In that light, we are equally as underserving as the next sinner. There certainly are expectations that are unreasonable or even abusive, and if that’s where you are right now I’d say proceed with a lot of prayer and godly counsel.

I hope that we can encourage each other through our challenges with expectations. It has been a pervading theme of my own life in the past year or so, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t just me that wrestles with it. Share your stories below so we can praise God for the victories and pray for each other in the struggles.

~Praying for lives changed, Melissa~

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my King and my expectations

Melissa @ awriteheart.com I’m not a big spoiler of my kids, but not too long ago I went out to get them gifts just because I wanted to…And because I had Kohls cash and a 30% off coupon. I got something tween-y for Hannah (12), something girly for Naomi (6), and a train toy for Jude (4). Jude and Hannah were thankful, but Naomi, instead of being excited, looked at her gift and informed me of what she would rather have had…She asked me if we could take it back to the store so she could choose something different. I was angry. I expected hugs and kisses and ooohs and aaahs, but instead I got complaints. I wanted recognition for my gift and instead I got an insult. I sulked for a while, and of course eventually we resolved it and I forgave her, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

This is a little example that was easily resolved, but I know that you can think of plenty of times when unmet expectations ruined your day. Or your year. Or your life. I’ve had some very deep cuts from those who were supposed to love me better. People who I love have left; they have failed; they have hurt me; they have disregarded me. And I, in turn, have been deeply disappointed. Some of you are disappointed with your life right now, maybe even secretly disappointed in God for letting this happen to you. Or maybe it’s not so big – maybe your husband came home late, or your son is sitting in detention, or your co-worker was rude to you. We’ve all experienced the feeling of let-down when others don’t live up to who we think they should be.

[pullquote type=”right”]…maybe God allows us to struggle with disappointment so that we can contrast it with who He is.[/pullquote]In every disappointment and unmet expectation, the same conclusion comes to light in my life…Christ is the only constant, the only good, the only One who will not change, the only One who delivers what He promises 100% of the time. The truth doesn’t erase the disappointment, but maybe God allows us to struggle with disappointment so that we can contrast it with who He is. He is steadfast, an anchor, a beacon. He is always forgiving, always loving, always just. He always hates sin, and always seeks obedience. He is our refuge, our strength, and our hope.

On this eve of Good Friday, there is JOY because of who He is and will always be! When you are disappointed, or when someone fails to meet your expectations, remember your King and celebrate.

~Alive because He lives, Melissa~