Seven Thoughts About Crazy Expectations
By Kathy Carlton Willis –
This past summer I felt challenged to be intentional in how I form expectations and how to plan ahead to address unmet expectations.
There are times that no matter what we do, others will let us down. We have great expectations because we want them to live lives in the light of God’s favor and blessing. But they choose a different way, flirting on the edge of darkness.
Over the course of the summer I learned a great deal about how to deal with my own unrealistic or unmet expectations—especially when it requires tough love.
- Sometimes others will do things that are not acceptable—that’s not judging, it’s just discerning. Because I want the best for them, my expectations will be unmet when they choose what is not acceptable.
- God wants me to still love them, but I don’t have to love their attitudes or actions, and I don’t even have to like the person right then! Often, I don’t like the person they are becoming. But I can still be hopeful that they will realign more with God’s principles (because I want His best for their lives).
- My prayers for these times should be more about how I can best show God’s love to them rather than praying they respond in a way I find acceptable. I should evaluate, what does God want from this? How can I share the truth in love? How can I release my feelings so they aren’t invested in this? How can I be okay if this is never resolved to my satisfaction? The answer is, to realize “it’s not about me.” It’s about reflecting God’s Light even when others don’t care to stand in that Light.
- This also requires discernment to know how involved to be with someone who isn’t going to be a positive part of my life. Maybe they are toxic to me. Or maybe they choose to go down the wrong path. The words “mark and avoid” come to mind from scripture. I know that sounds severe, but sometimes loving the way God loves requires tough love. He doesn’t expect me to hold their hands when they are slapping mine!
- There are times that no matter what we do to make something right, the other person isn’t going to do right, and we have no control over that. All we have control over is our response. The way we deal with our feelings. Our choices. I can choose to not keep doing favors for these toxic ones if they’re going to treat me poorly.
- Love doesn’t mean we roll over and play dead. It means we will release them, much like the prodigal son, to find their way back to what God wants in their lives. It also means being willing to receive them back when they come with repentant hearts.
- While waiting for someone to make the right choices, I can’t allow myself to get worked up about their faults and flaws. I’ve learned not to focus their self-absorption, distorted perspectives, or poor communications skills because obsessing on their shortcomings can render me ineffective for God’s use. And often the very thing I get frustrated about in someone else is something I need to make sure I’m not fighting in my own life. It is healthy to use their dysfunction as my mirror—to reveal with might be going on with me that needs adjusted. Perhaps that’s what Jesus was getting at when He said I needed to extract that big ol’ plank in my eye before I assist someone else with the speck in their eye. I’m learning!
Now it’s your turn. How will you deal with expectations in a different way?