Thought I would share a few areas of expectations that I have had to deal with.
Some of my biggest hurts and painful experiences have come as a result of expectations. Expectations of family, friends, myself and God are the areas that I have got myself into trouble. I felt that I had arrived in self help status when years ago I realized that I had high expectations of others, but that this was okay, since I was not expecting any less from myself! So I was justified in my expectations of others.
I do believe looking back on this assertion of mine, that I was sooo lost. Of course I wasn’t ready at the time to realize that I needed to rethink that entire thought process.
Over the last decade I have truly tried—with a lot of help from God to adjust my expectations. I have reached a place where I am finding it easier-I say easier, not overcome completely. I often catch myself in a situation where my expectations have either got ahead of me or they are about to get me in a bind. So through a lot of trial and error, and more error, I keep adjusting my expectations of myself and turn to acceptance of myself. With more freedom in my own expectations and acceptance I am finding it much more peaceful and easier to adjust my expectations and acceptance of others.
Expectations of Family:
Recently I was thinking about a few situations that had been particularly painful for me and thinking about the future. We have no guarantees in the future and what our relationships will be like. I had a moment of sadness at the thought that I had missed a lot of time with my dad –for example because I had been very hurt about many things and due to those hurts and my inability to deal with them I often just didn’t talk to him.
I do forgive myself for the fact that I coped with this as best I could at the time and I recognize that I can’t undo it. Reality is though, that I could have handled it differently. I spent so much time stuck in my emotions, feeling them, almost wallowing in them, rebelling against reality; I couldn’t change my dad, I couldn’t change the circumstances. No matter how I rebelled or tried. If I would have just accepted him and the circumstances I might have felt peace much sooner and there would have been healing sooner.
Does this mean that I understand everything my dad does? No.Or agree with everything he does or doesn’t do? No. Do I still feel disappointed sometimes? Yes. Do I allow it to fester? No. I let it go. I remind myself that I can’t control him or what he does and to accept reality. Do I protect myself with boundaries? Yes. My concern has now shifted to our son, his grandson. Will he remember to call on his birthday? Would he please just send a card-even with a $5 McD’s gift card in it? Does he do this? Sometimes.
How do I protect myself? I don’t expect him to remember my birthday. I remind my son that grandpa loves him very much but is not very good about the details; that he might or might not remember to call, that he might or might not send a card. (Do I worry that as my son grows he will feel hurt? Yes, a little. I try to remind myself to pray about it and to consistently remind my son of how loved he is by everyone-most of all, by Jesus.)
But, I cannot expect my father to be like my husband. My father has not ever been the father that my husband is to our son. If I held my father to those standards I would not have a relationship with him. And some people do that, they would cut him out. What I found from doing that in the past was just that I still hurt and longed for a relationship with him. I had to learn to try to accept him and to be clearer in our communication. There will be SOME expectations if you are going to have a relationship. If you are planning to meet with someone, you have to pick a place and a time and one has a reasonable expectation that they are going to meet you there. I believe that while I was changing he has grown in small ways that allow us to have a relationship. For this I am grateful.
Expectations of Myself:
Most of my ‘expectations’ have really only come between me and healing. Expectations allowed me to stay in my pain longer.
The holidays can be a harder time for many people. For me, I want things to be nice and special. I want to do it by being frugal not extravagant. Sometimes this means a lot of my time. And sometimes I don’t have a lot of time. A couple of years ago, this came to a boiling point for me. A collision, if you will. And through that holiday season it became clear to me that it doesn’t matter what fixed image or idea I had in my mind, I have to adjust it to meet the reality of the situation. If I don’t, I will have ruined it anyway.
Expectations of Friends:
I am not saying that there aren’t people that you do have to end a relationship with. Recently I went through a situation where we had a strained friendship from over a decade ago. But we had been very close, in fact the wife had stood up for me as a Bridesmaid in my wedding to my husband. We had been in business together. We had some issues with how the husband had done business. Over time we separated from them and the business and moved away and started a whole new life. But over the years I would try to reach out and connect with the wife. Sometimes we might connect briefly. I had held out hope, an expectation that maybe with time the husband would grow and change. So recently I reached out to the husband instead of trying to reach out to the wife. He responded at first, I was so excited. Maybe there had been enough time and healing that I would be able to be friends with the wife again. But then he messaged me again and it became clear that he was very bitter and still upset after over 10 years. I felt so sad! I had not wanted to let go of the idea that I would be able to be friends with the wife again one day. I miss her. I cared for her. I loved her like a sister. I realized this past month that I had to let it go; had to recognize that I should not reach out again. I had to shift my expectation. I had to accept that they apparently were to be a very important part of our lives; but in the past tense. I feel like it was a grieving as if I lost her.
Expectations of God:
This past Sunday at church at the very end during the closing prayer; the man praying shared about a time in his life when he heard God ask him, “Will you still choose me, have joy, if all of your dreams for the future don’t come true?”.
When he said that I heard God say to me, “Will you still choose me if your expectation about ‘this’ is not fulfilled?” Meaning, I had survived my abuse because I believed that God was going to use my life story to help others heal. I have an image in my mind of writing a book and speaking to women’s groups in churches. What if this expectation that my entire life has been based upon was for nothing, never to be? I choked up and tears welled up. I knew in that instant, “Yes” it would be enough to have a relationship with God. That I needed to remember that God is the center of this, that I shouldn’t limit God or paint a picture of how God might use my life to help others. I do believe that this wasn’t a –it is not going to be used, but rather that this was a reminder that I may not always know how God will use it. I may not know who has already been touched, but that I am not really doing it for accolades, but that I am doing this in obedience to God.
Anyone else have to adjust their expectations?