Monday, January 23, 2017

What Did You Expect?

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you,
saying, "This is the way; walk in it." - Isaiah 30:21

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Expectations. The dictionary defines this word as follows: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be.

Expectations can, sometimes, seem impossible to meet. Especially when they don't come from ourselves. It can be something as small as being on time to an event with a friend, to the pressure of following in the professional footsteps of one our parents.

They can be both realistic and unrealistic. A realistic expectation could be that of a child about the secure and loving upbringing of his/her parents. An unrealistic one could be seeing your spouse as the solution to all your insecurities and fears.

Whether realistic or not, expectations can hold us captive to an ever growing list of what should or shouldn't happen in our lives. Any unfulfilled expectation can result in the crushing weight of disappointment.

A feeling that nothing or no one can ever rise to the challenge of giving us the inner confidence of being counted on. It's been my experience that this can be a very dangerous place to be.

I used to have great expectations of things/events and people for years, until the destructive nature of disappointment left me teetering on the brink of depression.

Suddenly, the belief that everything and everyone would line up with what was conceived as being necessary to self-preservation and happiness, collapsed, leaving emptiness and distrust.

It took a long time to figure out that not only was it unrealistic to have certain expectations but having them rule over my feelings would be at the demise of all joy, happiness, and peace.

Slowly, over time, grand and miniscule expectations fell away and so did the looming hammer of disappointment. People and things would not be held accountable. Roller-coaster emotions no more the leader.

A heart that, though loving and caring, would no longer expect others to care, reach out, offer solutions or lend a helping hand in times of difficulty.

The cycle of being set up for disappointment was broken once and for all and it was liberating. There was freedom from the hurt and pain of disappointment.

Whether or not a caring note or phone call came, whether a friend or family member visited, the knowledge of having removed those expectations brought peace.

Life became breathable and leaving disappointment behind, refreshing, which then allowed the opportunity to be free to reach out to and do for others without expecting anything in return.

While expectations in our lives can be difficult to navigate, much like a mine field, there is One who expects nothing from us. God. He doesn't even expect us to love Him even though He first loved us by sending His Son to die on a Cross for the sins of you and I.

The book of Psalms, in the Bible, says,"In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." - Psalm 5:3

This statement came from a king named David who had a very close relationship with God. So close, that David had come to fully trust in God and expect great things from Him. These great things are the promises of God.

Promises like peace, joy, answered prayer, protection, and wisdom. Promises told to David from God. Those same promises, along with so many more, are available to us as Christians.

We are told to have expectations of God. That He will reveal Himself to us when we wait expectantly like David did. That God will be faithful to His promises to us because, well, God is faithful.

So while I may not have any expectations of things and people around me, I can have expectations of God, according to His Word (the Bible). That is an incredibly freeing truth.

Encouragement for the week:

Do you feel like you are being held captive by your own expectations of things/events and people, maybe even of yourself?

Are you constantly riddled with disappointment because of those unfulfilled expectations?

I want to encourage you this week to let your expectations of, well, everything, fall away completely. Free yourself of both the realistic and unrealistic expectations and I can promise you that you might be pleasantly surprised in what you experience.

If you are a Christian, God calls us to expect great things in Him. Wait, in expectation, on the Lord and see what He will do.

If you are not a Christian, and you have been stung by the bite of disappointment, look for Jesus, who has no expectations of you but has the best in mind beyond any expectation you could ever imagine.

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