Being Okay With Unmet Expectations

“Expectation is the root of all heartache” — William Shakespare

“Never expect, never assume, never demand. Just let it be.” — Unknown

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  — Ephesians 3:20-21

As a kid, I saw expectations as a good thing or even a somewhat righteous thing. My parents expected me to be good, my school expected me to show up and strive for good grades, my friends expected me to have fun with them, etc. These expectations were fairly easy to achieve as I was lucky to have great parents, friends and teachers. In short, more often than not, if there were set expectations the ease of childhood helped them come to fruition.

However, as I got older I started noticing when my expectations were unmet. Even when I tried my hardest, more often than not, things wouldn’t go in the way I had imagined.

I think we all experienced this to a certain extent – maybe if your childhood was challenging, it hit you sooner than it did for others. At some point, we all started to suffer from unmet expectations.

This realization comes in three ways. It’s not only the actions we realize we can’t accomplish—we start to see how we can struggle in relationships, get rejected from opportunities, do less than we imagined we could do.

It also comes when we realize people won’t meet the expectations we put on them—i.e. they don’t say what we wish they would, they don’t do everything we thought they could, they don’t treat us exactly how we believed they should.

Lastly, we realize our God doesn’t do what we expect Him to. He doesn’t answer our prayer in the way we thought he would. He doesn’t guide us to the destination we imagined. He doesn’t resolve conflict with the method we believed He should.

As I continue to grow older I am learning how to deal with this misconception that’s dragged out since childhood. I can either feel heartbreak when my demands and assumptions didn’t work out. And get angry at friends and family for going against my grain. I can pull away from God when I am frustrated with what He’s allowed me to go through. I can continue to set expectations and wish things went the way my feeble mind imagined.

OR I can allow Him to work His magic. I can forgive friends and family like He forgives us when we don’t meet expectations. I can let go of my imagined control over each and every part of my future and let it be.

And I can be ecstatic at how God surprises me. He does more than our feeble minds can imagine.

Moreover, if that kind of acceptance can rule over those expectations, we will be able to treat friends and family and ourselves with more forgiveness. What’s more, we will enjoy the ways they surprise us as well.

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