Tag Archives: expectations

“Once Upon A Time” instead of “Happily Ever After”

From the long, flowing, perfect hair that looks gorgeous even when wind-blown, to the teeny-tiny ten-inch circumference waists, to their dashing princes that come to their rescue and fall deeply, madly, head-over-well-shoed heals in love with their fair damsels, Disney Princesses have it made.  Or, we think they do.
As young girls we in the Western World watch their stories over and over, memorizing lines and songs, learning from a young age to dream of or wait for a Prince Charming that will come, rescue a girl from whatever her current trial is (cleaning her bedroom, doing homework, escaping from an emotionally unavailable father) and whisk her away on his white horse into the sunset – into their “Happily Ever After”.  And life will be perfect.  Any troubles will be gone – forever.  They will love each other perfectly.  He will fulfill any desires and expectations she has, and she will, of course, do the same for him.
In the Christian world, we dream that any sins we struggle with will also be instantly erased the magical minute Prince Charming or Disney Princess walks into our own story.  And so we create our own fairytale-endings, complete with white dresses, expensive parties, snappy clothing for our princes, and elaborate ceremonies with our kingdoms watching.  Because, after all, what’s not to celebrate?  Everything’s going to be grand now!
If only.
I think it’s about time we recognize that dating, engagements, aren’t an indicator that “Happily Ever After” (aka The Wedding) is about to happen.  “Happily Ever After”, folks, is when we’ve completed our time here, and we enter through those pearly gates (for the record, I have NO idea how gates can be made out of pearl; I’m pretty excited to see those.  Maybe it’s more like mother-of-pearl.  Either way – Gor-GEOUS!!!!).  The wedding is more like “Once Upon A Time”.
“Once Upon A Time” is the beginning (shocker, I know).  Once Upon A Time means there’s a story ahead.  A story full of frustration, hardship, obstacles to overcome, characters to get to know and to say good-bye to, character development, and love – much love.  Any good story has love at its center.  Maybe not romantic love, but love (for something OTHER than self) just the same.
I think maybe, if we start looking at weddings as “Once Upon A Time” expectations would be different, and maybe, more marriages would be saved.
Just sayin’.

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No Great Expectations

He’ll notice the non-existent tear in the corner of your eye, and ask what’s wrong.   She’ll have your favorite dinner, perfectly prepared, waiting, steaming hot on the table when you come home.  He’ll intuitively know when to bring you a rose for no reason.  She’ll know the perfect words to say to remind you of the man you are.  She’ll always be beautiful.  He’ll always be able to fix the leaky sink.
She’ll know when to take you out for coffee and just listen, and she’ll know when to interrupt.  He’ll know when to get you to come over and play X-Box and to let you kick his butt.
She’ll know when to hug you and put a band-aide on your owy.  He’ll know when he needs to call you Princess and scare the teenage boy cowering behind you – mostly because he wants both you and the boy to know how very special you are.
She’ll glare at you whenever you pass in the hallway.  He’ll call you names behind your back.
He’ll ask you why you didn’t try harder on the test…again.  She’ll give you slack because she always does, and let you get by with it again…this time.
He’ll take care of everything, make sure the world runs smoothly, make sure none of the children go hungry or get hurt.

I once had a friend tell me that he was working at not having any expectations in his relationships.  And I thought he was crazy. You need expectations, right?  Otherwise people will walk all over you; otherwise people will use you.  Otherwise you’re the only one giving in relationships.  Otherwise you’re directionless.

But, the longer I live, and the more relationship experience I have, the more I realize how wise my friend is.  Expectations in relationships – romantic, friends, parents or simply someone in your social circle, or even of God  – are incredibly damaging.

When we think we know how someone should react, or what they should do, we limit them to our standards.  No, seriously, think about it.  If you have a certain idea of how your best friend is supposed to treat you, when she doesn’t it, it’s incredibly painful for you.  And you probably get angry, because she didn’t do what you needed to do; she didn’t do her job as best friend.  Shouldn’t she know better?  So you punish her (get angry, pout, stop talking, or simply hold it against her until you can’t hold it in any longer) until she gets the hint and starts acting the way YOU want her to.
And when you carry those ideas around with you, you’re really hurting your friendship.  You’re not allowing her to be her*.  And, you’re saying that she has to act a certain way, when maybe she never thought of that, or maybe she was trying to do something better for you, or, well who knows.  The point being, you had expectations of her, and now that she didn’t follow through, some part of you that was banking on her doing that, is incredibly hurt.

See, the thing is, our expectations are one way we exercise control over people.  We expect them to be, or do, or look a certain way.  And we get hurt and furious when they don’t.

The same is true of God.  When we have expectations of who He is, or what He’s like, or what He should or can do, we limit Him, and we try to control Him.  Our expectations dictate what we think His actions should be.  But the crazy thing is – He’s GOD.  As Job found out – who are we to say what He’s like, what He should do, or question His letting children in Africa go hungry?  I know, I sound super shallow saying that.  I sound like callous, like I don’t care.  But I do.  So I do everything a poor, broke white girl in the US can do.  But I don’t get angry at God.  He’s God.  He is GOOD.  He has a plan.  My expectations of Him only damage our relationship.
So I let God do what God does best – be God.  I trust that He’s going to stick with who He is, the solid truths I know about Him.  And so I’m just along for the ride.

The thing is, we think that we can’t give up those expectations.  That somehow releasing those expectations of the people around us will allow them to be less than who we need them to be.  Or that the need that they sorta-almost-kinda fill will be completely neglected in us.  And it’s painful.  It’s harmful.  But the thing I’ve discovered is that holding grudges for expectations not met, for keeping those expectations when it’s obvious that person is NEVER going to live up to them, is actually incredibly more painful and harmful than if we were to let them go.
If you let them go – if you let the expectations go – than you allow that person to be who they really are.  You’ve given them freedom.  And who knows but that in their freedom they now have the room to be who you needed them to be – even if you didn’t realize you needed them to be that.  And somehow, in your release of your expectations of them – you allow God to step in and fill the spots that your friend or family couldn’t.   And that’s when healing begins.

We all have expectations.  Boyfriends and girlfriends have expectations of each other.  Husbands and wives have expectations of each other.  Daughters have expectations of their daddies.  Best friends have expectations of each other.  We all (whether or not we realize it) have expectations of God.  Let them go.

Let them go.  See what your relationships look like if you allow that person (or God) to simply be who they are.  See what your relationships look like if you allow God to fill the needs in you that right now, you’re expecting someone else to fill (and they’re failing miserably at).

I’m betting your pain will be dramatically less, and the relationship, over time, will get healthier than you’ve ever imagined.   Granted, it will be incredibly hard.  It’s natural for humans to have expectations of each other. It’s just what we do.  It’s part of how we make sense of the world around us.  And it’s part of how we kill each other.

So now I’m striving to live as my friend does –  relationships with No Expectations.

*Now, there are times we need to confront (gulp) our friends or family or even God when they really aren’t doing something we need them to do (or are doing something we need them NOT to do).  But if we hold expectations of how they should act – that confrontation is an angry confrontation.  While, if we didn’t have those expectations, that confrontation is a gentle one, one of humility and need.

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Colorado Mountain Air

The summer I came back from Bahrain I was on sensory overload.  Suddenly, after 10 months of living in a place I describe to people as “Mars”  (think red desert with not much vegetation), I was suddenly back in my beloved Colorado.  I could hardly handle being surrounded by my mother’s gorgeous flowers, and God’s breath-taking mountains, and the wonderful, refreshing, mountain air.   I have never taken so many pictures of my mother’s garden, or stared so hungrily at the mountains that a few years for I had taken for granted.  And the air!  The fresh, clean, clear, crisp, mountain air!  If you’ve never smelt it, you don’t know what you’re missing.  But I guarantee it’s a smell you will encounter often in Heaven.  I’m pretty sure the smell that accompanies a Colorado mountain morning is God’s cologne – the stuff He puts on just to impress you.

But the thing is, the summer before, I had no idea of the wonder and majesty that surrounded me.  I spent that summer in Colorado too, but I did not take a hundred pictures of my mother’s flowers.  I did not stop dead in my tracks after stepping outside in the morning, just to soak in the wonderful air.  My spirit did not lift in joy when driving into the mountains.  I didn’t know what I had.  I didn’t know the glory, wonder, majesty that I had been given to me.

Unfortunately, over the years since then, that wonder has faded a bit.  But I can still remember that summer.  And I wonder how many OTHER things I take for granted in my life.  Just how blessed I was growing up.  How many friends I’m not near enough thankful for.  How very easy and convenient our lives are today.  How very different my life would be if it weren’t for God, for Jesus and what His amazing, loving sacrifice did for me.  For the air I breathe.

Like the air that surrounds me that I don’t think about breathing in and out, I am surrounded God’s blessings.  And I take them for granted.  Honestly, I often EXPECT them, and get frustrated when I don’t get what I want.  How ungrateful, how ugly, is that?

What are you immersed in that you have forgotten to be grateful for recently?  When was the last time you asked God to open your eyes for all the blessings surrounding you?  How many blessings can you name?   What blessings do you expect to receive?

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