For three days I battled with the expectations I had put on a particular person in our church. I would relinquish the expectation and then take it back. I fought with this expectation for three days and equally long nights.
I was practically foaming at the mouth. By the end I was frazzled and worn out.
My expectations were a weight on my mind and I was unable to release them. A heaviness fell on me making it almost impossible to relinquish them.
It was a tug-a-war of letting go and then pulling back, over and over in my mind.
I had to put an end to this struggle and the hopes, fears and expectations that had become tangled up in my mind. I had become a prisoner of the expectations I had put on someone else.
Selena C. Snow, a Clinical psychologist in Rockvileed, MD, says expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure.
She adds that “unrealistic expectations assume a level of control, that we don’t actually have in a situation.”
And because of this, we repeatedly feel disappointment when people fail to meet our expectations. This is particularly true of our children.
Unrealistic expectations are rigid and don’t leave room for flexibility or creativity. We presume that there is only one way that God can fulfill our hopes and dreams.
We put God in a box and people too.
Unrealistic expectations are heavy on our shoulders. We think that a person should know what we are feeling. We also presume that we know what is going on in the person’s life in whom we placed our expectations.
There could be things happening that we are totally unaware of.
When people fall ‘short’ of our expectations, we must remind ourselves that we also have fallen short of God’s expectations, yet the Lord extends mercy and grace towards us.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Similarly, we must extend mercy and grace to those who fail to meet our expectations.
This is particularly true in church settings. Dr Bill McRae, President of Toronto’s Tyndale University, wrote:
“We are not doing well, when it comes to managing expectations in church settings, our expectations are poorly managed. We don’t know how to manage our expectations.”
He encourages us to practice compassion towards those who fall short of our expectations be it church leaders, family members or even friends. We must learn to give room for flexibility and change in our hopes and expectations of others.
According to Dr. McRae when our expectations get out of control, it can produce anger and anxiety. Failed expectations can also cause sadness and shame for the one who has disappointed us and fallen short of our hopes.
In one instance, I realized that my expectations were causing sadness and feelings of shame in that person. This spoke to my heart and my need to be compassionate and understanding towards those that I put these heavy expectations on.
Ultimately, I didn’t have enough faith to believe God could work things out in His timing. I remember in one situation, I had finally convinced myself to let go of the string attached to my expectation of a particular person and situation in our church.
As I watched it float upwards, in my mind’s eye I saw the words “I GOT THIS” written across the front of the balloon. I had given it over to God.
Two days later a totally unexpected answer came as God fulfilled it in His time and way.
In a life filled with trials and testings, where leaders and others failed to meet his expectations, David understood one thing:
“My soul wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)