This weekend I had the not-so-delightful opportunity to be on both sides of the expectation equation.
On one occasion, I fell woefully short of someone’s expectations of me. The feelings that arise in that situation — frustration, irritation–come rushing over me like a waterfall. I chafe a bit under expectations that I can’t possibly meet and grow quickly frustrated before eventually tossing the whole thing to the wind and trying to forget about it. But it does cause some blocks to be built in the dividing wall of a relationship.
And, then, I was on the other side, as well. I expected someone to do something and when they didn’t do it, those familiar emotions came whirling back into my heart and head. And again some block-building takes place.
Frustration and irritation and wall-building are all routine in the World of Unmet Expectations.
This world is fraught with other dangers, especially if it is a regular occurrence–
–breakdown of communication
You see, we grow to expect certain things. We expect our kids to behave in a certain way, we expect our spouses to treat us in a certain way, we expect our family, friends, leaders, and pastors to do certain things. And the funny thing is–we all have very different opinions of what those expectations are.
Much of it is built during our childhood and what we saw in our homes and churches growing up. Some of it is built from the books we read and the movies we watch. And some of it is simply human nature.
But, wherever those expectations come from, they can cause serious chaos if we don’t make careful effort to keep them as a lower priority than the actual person we are expecting something from.
Let me give an example. Let’s say that I am expecting my child to do something and they choose not to do it. If I make my expectation more important than my child, then I will place myself at the center of the offense and yell and scream and altogether handle it badly. If I make my child more important than my expectation, then I will focus on what exactly needs to be fixed (if there was actually sin involved) and handle it calmly and rationally.
Many times expectations aren’t even sin issues, but simply two people who desire to do two different things.
I am sure you have heard the joke about the newlyweds who fight over the toothpaste tube. Should they roll it or just squeeze it? Or the toilet paper roll. Should it go over or under? That is all about expectations.
And in those situations, someone has to give. That has been a hard lesson for me over the years, one I continue to have to work on. When I have an agenda that includes someone else and they have a different idea, then I have to learn to release my expectations wholly and completely–no sarcastic or hurtful remarks, no sulking, no holding grudges.
When I can do that, my family and friends desire to spend time with me. If I can’t, then I become one of those people that they would prefer not to be around–because they can never make me happy.
Think about the last time you had an argument with someone. Was it over something serious or moral or was it just an unmet expectation of relative insignificance? Was it something that was worth standing on or something that was simply opinion?
We need to keep this in mind when the next situation crops its ugly head–which will probably be today, so let’s keep our eyes open, our hearts humble, and our minds ready!