There's been a lot of conversation around here lately about expectations. It seems to me that whenever there is a season of change, conversations about expectations are not far behind. The relationship between change and expectation is a curious link for me. As it turns out, we are in quite the season for all of it:
Preparing and planning for child #6
Two kids heading back to public school for the first time in two years,
Momma working at home four days a week,
Shaggy praying about his post-high school plans
and so much more change than I can even list here
I find the adjusting of expectations to be a difficult thing. When my expectations are adjusted even in the the nicest possible way, I balk. (Don't we all? Or is that just me?!) When my expectations are adjusted in an unexpected, or worse, a rude or thoughtless manner, I fold. I retreat. I crumble a bit inside. I suspect that it's the same for many of you. (If it's not, don't tell me, I prefer to think I'm not alone in this. Thanks!)
Recently, I had a situation of dashed expectations that was painful. While The Boss was not surprised at the outcome but I think he was a little surprised at my adjustment and my retreat. He couldn't figure out why I was surprised at the outcome. (Marriage is such an interesting dynamic for the conversation about expectations, isn't it?) I'm not being vague to be coy, I'm being vague because the situation itself is a rather universal, almost mundane one, especially now that I am several weeks out from it. But it left me thinking a LOT about adjusting expectations.
You see, I know that I have high expectations of myself, my family, my kids. Of my relationships and my ability to navigate in healthy ways through them. I also know that my expectations are usually rather rosy, idealistic, even "Polly-anna-ish." I tend to be the "glass- half-full" in our home - I expect positive outcomes even from my highest expectations. To be truthful, I kinda like my high expectations. I think they keep me moving forward. Trying. While I know that those expectations won't always pan out in that rosy manner, I am loathe to talk myself into expecting differently. The Boss doesn't always get this, as he's more of a realist than I and gently reminded me that expecting a change or a growth in this particular issue was kind of setting myself up for disappointment. For a couple days, I agreed with him. While I was nursing my hurt feelings and frustration.
But by the time I'd prayed through my feelings, I decided that I don't really want to expect something different to come of these dynamics. Even if "something different" was exactly what happened. I don't want to stop expecting growth and maturity. From myself or from my relationships. It feels too much like lowering my expectations.
To be clear, I do understand that unrealistic expectations in relationships or in any other area of life can set me up (and those I with whom I am in relationship) for more than disappointment. It can lead to failure and to destruction and wounding. That is not the kind of expectation of which I am speaking.
Being an adult in an adult world brings with it all kinds of expectations for growth, very often triggered by a call to change. At work, at school, in community organizations - expectations of growth are everywhere. To take it a step further, I am a believer in The Gospel of Jesus Christ: the greatest written set of high expectations and urgings for change that exist! As I sit and think about the teaching in the Word that I have received and the reading and studying that I do on my own time, I hear My Father speak to me all the time of the need to change. To grow. To expect that He will show me where I need to grow. To expect that He will do the work of that expectation, if you will. It hurts, it takes work, but it's in the Word. Right? Does this make sense to anyone else out there?!
In times when my expectations are disappointed (either by other fallible folks in my life or by my own unreasonable or unhealthy desires), I need to grow through that, too. Make no mistake, it hurts when my unreasonableness is spotlighted. It hurts when people disappoint me. It hurts when I think things could be different and they end up being the same. But I need to press on (not fold!), figure out what the appropriate adjustment is, and let the rest of the unpleasant or painful parts of it go. I'm learning about myself that I have a long way to go in that area. I tend to take into my heart all of it, and even let it linger and wound. In this season of so much change, I'm facing that truth about myself and being set free by the revelation that My Father doesn't intend me to take on the pain of someone else's mishandling of healthy expectations.
And I get to do it all with five sets of little eyes watching me. I am expected to teach my kids about The Father's expectations of them, our expectations of them, and about handling those expectations. I need to be about the business of teaching my kids to have expectations of themselves, reasonable AND excellent, because that is what the Word says they are capable of. I am learning to let them see my process and talk to them about it as I am growing. And when one of my gang is struggling with his or her own failed expectations, as much as it hurts, I have to learn to let them navigate their own balance of learning and healing.
Expectations are everywhere. Never more so than when change is looming on the horizon. My heart for my journey of faith is to let Him mold my expectations and let Him dictate what is Truth when I face disappointments of my expectations and what is not. I believe He created me with a mindset toward high expectations. It's part of my wiring. I don't want to let go of what His expectations are in me. As my gang watches me grapple with the process, I can only pray that they learn the healthy balance and journey forward in a quest for their own balance.
But I sure hope that they learn to expect that the balance will always change. Isn't that the way of it?!