I don’t think I really fully understood what expectations meant, or at least how many expectations I had, until becoming a parent. Maybe I’d just never taken the time to step back and look at my life in an intentional way before then. I guess that comes with age. But man, oh man did I find that so much of my day/life was hingeing on them. Let’s name a few for fun:
-expecting my children to listen (HA!)
-expecting my husband to know what I want (HA!)
-expecting no traffic when driving (get out of the left lane!!!!)
-expecting to get through a chore without getting interrupted (100 times)
-expecting a planned activity to go smoothly
-expecting to get a good night’s sleep
-expecting Jonathan to get home from work at a certain time
-expecting to get out the door on time every morning (PUT ON YOUR SHOES!)
See what I mean???? When you start really thinking about it, you realize how much expectations can run (or ruin) your day.
And when I start looking at my expectations in any given moment, I can see that the times I get most stressed and frustrated are when things don’t live up to those expectations.
Looking back over the course of my week, any time I’ve raised my voice or said something I shouldn’t have said, or let out an “UGHHH” is because something didn’t go my way. That reminder hits home even more when I hear my 5 year old groaning “oh my goooosh” from the other room. I actually winced, realizing this is something I say out loud on a regular basis (hello reality check). Because you know what? Life pretty much never goes as planned. Especially when you throw a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a baby in the mix. Yeah, they could pretty much care less about our expectations, right?
So why do I get so bent out of shape when expectations aren’t met? Is it wrong to have expectations? Shouldn’t I expect my kids to behave???
That’s a loaded question.
On one hand, yes, I should expect them to behave. I have to teach them how to behave and discipline them when they choose poorly. But on the other hand, I should also expect them not to behave because they are 5 and 3, and they are selfish little people. So I have to find the balance, which is real hard sometimes. My life would be SO much easier if they (and everybody) just did what I told them and never acted like crazy people, right?! Or if no one ever pulled out in front of me and drove slow on the road. Or if Jonathan knew what I wanted without me having to say it. But who ever promised me my life was going to be easy? Whoever told me that having children would be a walk in the park? Or that life in general was always going to go smoothly and according to “plan”?
Yep, no one has ever promised me that. Dang it.
So I am deciding to let go of expectations and give them to God. To lay my plans and ideas in His hands. To wake up every morning and say, “ok God, let’s do this.” Because He wants to be a part of our lives, the “good” parts and the messy parts! Because life IS messy. It just is. But the truth is that we are not alone in it. Things aren’t going to always be smooth and easy, and that’s ok. If it were then it may be easy to forget that we aren’t the ones running the show. We may start thinking that we are the ones that have it all together and are totally self-sufficient. But that is so far from the truth, thank God.
So, yes, while goals and expectations aren’t necessarily bad things, we can’t let them dictate our lives. Lysa TerKeurst says in her book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions* that “emotions are indicators, not dictators” and I think that applies here, too. We can’t let all of these outside forces determine how we act or react in situations. Choose to live from the truth, which is that God LOVES YOU immensely and quite literally died to be a part of your life, to walk through the hard parts with you and to hold your hand when things go wrong. He is not scared of a toddler temper tantrum. He puts up with plenty of our adult temper tantrums just fine, am I right? Don’t let circumstances or emotions run or ruin your day. The truth is always the truth regardless of those circumstances or emotions.
So do you ever struggle with expectations like mine?? Which are the hardest for you? How do you deal with that? Leave some thoughts in the comments! Let’s talk about it!