Because we aren’t omniscient (all-knowing), we don’t know how our relationships will wind up; therefore we believe we need to take them in hand and determine how each person must function for us. We may not share our ideas with the other person, but we will, nonetheless, have expectations that we want met by each individual we know.
The closer he or she is to us, the higher our expectations.
This opens us up to hurt, frustration, and disappointment.
For instance, you know from my other posts that I have no real expectations from any person who does not know Jesus. They are dead (spiritually), and dead people stink – they can’t help it. If their behavior stinks – it’s no biggie.
From my brothers and sisters in the Lord, however, I expect better behavior. I expect to be loved, nurtured, and encouraged. When their acts or words toward me are less than Christ-like, I get offended.
From my husband, my expectations are much higher. I expect him to always be loving, to always be engaged in whatever topic I choose, etc. When he does not live up to what I expected, I get very offended.
The expectations I have of my spiritual leaders (be they pastors, elders, teachers, or mentors) are probably the highest. I expect these “spiritual giants” to have a hotline to heaven, and be the most godly people I know. When they are less than perfect, I’m apt to be highly offended – and leave my current church and go find one where the leaders are truly “men (or women) of God.”
By the way – I haven’t found that church yet!
It doesn’t take long to discover that the other person does not necessarily want to play the role in which we have cast him or her. If we try to force our expectations on our spouse, for instance, he or she could feel trapped and angry – or guilt and shame for not measuring up.
They are not free to be who God created them to be,
and we judge them for not being who we want them to be for us.
Setting expectations for others then, is to “love” for the sake of getting what I want from that person. It is conditional, dependent upon their ability to satisfy my demands. This certainly is not the agape love Jesus desires us to show to one another.
Expectancy, on the other hand, looks forward to growing in unity and intimacy with others. Without the “rules” of expectation, each person is free to grow and “become.” We are free of the bondage of another person’s list of “oughts” and “shoulds.”
This kind of relationship requires trust in God’s ability to continue to transform and develop each party. Without faith that God will meet needs we can’t get met elsewhere, we are forced to control those around us and try to wring from them the love, acceptance, and grace we long for.
I discovered this the hard way in my own marriage. I had a very long list of expectations for my husband. Where he fell short, I criticized, manipulated, cried, and was a royal pain. At the same time, he also had a long list of expectations for me, and had his own methods of trying to extract the behaviors he wanted from me.
I was angry and hurt that he seemed to have no interest in meeting my demands. He was angry and hurt that I wouldn’t do things his way. In less than three years, we were separated and talking about divorce – no big surprise there!
The number of relationships I’ve ended due to unmet expectations is countless.
No doubt, I am not alone in this.
But what about God? Does He have expectations for us? If so, have we met them? or is He disappointed with us – with you?
Let’s consider what we know about Him:
He IS omniscient. He knows exactly who we are becoming. He’s also never caught off guard – “Oh dear! I didn’t see that coming. Now what am I going to do?”
He is patient – and content to take His time fashioning each one into a unique masterpiece, according to His plan. We are His poema. Study Scripture, and you will discover that there isn’t a single needless word or bit of information in all the Bible. Ditto for us. Every bit of it – every experience – becomes a word in His poetry – which is the story being written of our life.
He is faithful – and does not stop until He has completed His work in us.
He does not commit Himself to man – He knows our hearts.
He has compassion on us. He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust.
Go outside and pick up a handful of dirt. How great are your expectations from that dirt? Will you end up disappointed in the end?
Yes, there are commands – by which we can better know God’s nature, and thereby become more like Him. (i.e. “Do not lie” – God does not lie; “Do not commit adultery” – God is faithful, etc.).
But what does He expect from us? Nothing. He knows the end from the beginning. He didn’t expect us to do one thing – only to have us do something totally different and random.
If you “get” this, you will “hear” the sound of chains breaking and falling to the floor – especially if you’ve bought into the lie that you’ve let God down.
Here it is:
GOD IS NOT DISAPPOINTED IN YOU !
Never has been, never will be.
No wonder they call the Gospel “Good News!” Tell someone about it!!
The idea that we ever “held you up” in the first place is absurd. You need nothing from us. We were made from the dirt of the ground, and have nothing that was not first given to us from Your generous hand. Help us to fully grasp that You are not disappointed in us. After all, every day of our lives was recorded when as yet there were none of them. Thank You for loving us with Your everlasting love and drawing us to Yourself with cords of kindness. Help us to completely rest in that love.
In turn, Father, help us to extend Your kind of love to others wherever we meet them. Forgive us for enslaving our loved ones, for trying to play “god” to them, defining who they could be according to our desires and wishes.
Thank You so much for setting us free from the belief that we are a continual disappointment to You. Help us to walk out our lives in light of this truth. May we be forever changed because of this revelation from You.
I love You!
\ 🙂 /
Visit Lessons by Heart