7/17/2013

Trouble with Expectations

Sometimes we can be so powerful with our expectations that people actually strive to meet them, however unrealistic or impossible. Children are notorious for trying to meet their parents' expectations. If they fail, which they often do, it's their parents' response which can make or break them. Do they stand forgiven or rejected?

Even as an adult there are many expectations placed on me. Society expects that I take care of my part of living in it while people closest to me may know where I fail in that area and expect less. The closer a person is, the more tailor-made the expectations should be. However, friends and loved ones still surprise and disappoint. People change and become unpredictable. I've decided it's best to leave expectations sitting on an open palm where even a gentle breeze can remove them. It's less disappointing that way.

I had high expectations for my future when I was younger. I was going to be on stage as a "rockstar" touring the world and blowing kisses to fans. In my mind I was meant to have a voice for goodness and rightness as I strutted my talent across a well-lit platform. People would see that I was a solid example for their kids and an indispensable asset to their moral cause. I began singing and performing as much as I could and took many risky steps toward this dream of mine. I expected God would put pavers before me like a floating bridge till I reached the heights of success. Blessed going and blessed coming! I spent tons of money, theirs and mine. Soon I found myself disheartened, disillusioned, and disappointed.

But were those really my own expectations or those a powerful few had for me? I've always been sensitive to peoples' feelings toward me. I suppose that comes from being a performer; I wanted to know how my audience was feeling so I could cater to them accordingly and get that coveted applause. If I didn't meet their expectations then they would remove their love, encouragement, and belief in me. It's almost as though they only saw my potential and not me. Potential is all in the eye of the beholder, I came to discover. Depending on the strength in me that people most related to or enjoyed, that was the potential they focused on and hoped for me. Many people felt they knew me well enough to see my true potential. Therefore they built their expectations around that and I listened to them.

If only everyone held onto their expectations as lightly as I've learned to. We would discover so much more potential than is seen at first. God sees my truest potential. His goals and ambitions for me are perfect and perfectly in line with His story of redemption for the world. I'm still not sure where He's taking me or where I'll end up, but I know His expectations are the most realistic and doable of anyone's I'll ever know. I want to listen to those expectations.

However, it is a common habit for me to put words in Gods mouth. I sometimes start my morning journaling with "What shall I do today, Lord?" God has broadened my mind to hear Him say, "Who said I was going to ask you to DO anything?" He just expects me to acknowledge His presence, abide in Him, and adore Him for it. The DOing part seems to just happen. It's when I try to meet God's expectations that I lose my hold on His hand. It's unfortunate when a recovering know-it-all like me thinks I see where God is going with something. "Oh! I see where You're taking me. I can totally do this! I got this!" Then I turn around to wave good-bye to Jesus and fall backwards into a pothole. Ouch. God gently pulls me up, dusts me off, and I limp a little slower beside Him, talking about the pain and how sorry I am. He smiles at me all the time. God is a super smiley guy, ya know? He gets a kick out of me.

The paradox of God's expectations is that He knows everything that will happen but we don't. He expected that I would let go and fall into the pothole because He knew it would happen. He made sure that some angels came in advance and cleared away any sharp objects so I would be too badly injured. Of course, pain helps us learn so He didn't fill the thing in. He knows how stubborn I can be. It's very reassuring to be taken care of and even disciplined by God who knows all. I've always been His and I've always been protected thanks to my praying parents. That's some pretty sweet Failure Insurance. My kids have it, too.

One dangerous thing about having kids is that it's fun to write peoples' future in our minds. It's fun like playing with dolls and toy soldiers. We are in control over that person's fate, or though it seems. When they are young and we are powerful they may even try to follow our plan and we can watch our mighty influence at work for a while. When my kids finally get a clue as teenagers that I was trying to play God with their lives they will show me who's boss. There's nothing like the human will to do battle for it's own freedom. No one can control it but the human to whom it belongs. God gave that to us and He has let us use our wills however we choose to, even if it means we don't choose Him.

I want to love my kids and everyone around me the way God loves. Love provides a safe place for people to change and grow and discover who they are. Love lets go of expectations and allows the person to blossom into a completely different and better version of themselves. Love forgives and forgets risks that failed and sins that crippled and betrayals that hurt. God has let me zig-zag into His perfect plan and now that I'm here I'm staying in it. By God's grace I'm staying His course. 

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