Managing expectations is something we all deal with. It may be the expectations of our parents, a spouse, a coach, a boss, a co-worker, a pastor, a friend, a child, a neighbor, or all of the above…… you fill in the blank or multiple blanks. Some people have expectations that are far beyond what we are capable of meeting, mainly because they “have not walked in our shoes.”
Yep…….I have learned, heading into the Back 9…to take a look at my expectations of myself and then my expectations of others….sometimes I have raised my expectations of others and have let them know it and with some, I have lowered my expectations. I have to take the other person into consideration when adjusting my expectations.
Allow me to explain. In my early 40’s I stayed very frustrated…….especially with myself and others. I couldn’t quite figure out the source of the frustration. Every day seemed to bring a new agitation. There were good days and positive things happening, but the level of frustration I had seemed to grow.
For example…..one of our kids might have been excelling in school or sports, but their room was a wreck at home. With three kids, someone would seem to be thriving while another was not. Or, I would get up on Monday morning and the “trash can” had not been rolled to the street. As I watched the trash collector leave our neighborhood, the thank you notes I had hoped to write didn’t get done……because the day’s interruptions mounted and before I knew it….I had to start supper.
What would really take the cake were those days when a family member would ask me to do something for them and the day would get away from me before I realized I had “dropped the ball!” The straw that broke the camel’s back finally came along. It forced me to look at “all the unmet” expectations I had of myself and from others. It started out to be a peaceful day, until I received the call that Thomas’ insulin pump had decided to get stuck and not work properly! It was a day that mounted into one of the worst days of my life. From our dog throwing up in the house, to a bad grade on a test, to the power going off and our garage door not opening.
There was more. You name it. The wheels were off and going in four different directions. It was after I survived that day…that ……I stepped off the “merry-go-round of life!” My head was spinning. The “cape” I was wearing was mangled and no longer helped me “fly” like it once did. I knew something needed to change.
I would love to say the first thing I did was pray, but the next day I called a trusted friend and poured out my heart. She came over and went for a walk with me. For a solid hour we walked and talked….she at first allowed me to “dump” and a dumping I did. To the point….I am surprised she could walk after 30 minutes of “sludge” being flung her way!
After listening carefully and quietly……she thoughtfully spoke….the next words she said nourished the depths of my soul………”I could not survive either…..the expectations you have of yourself and the expectations you have allowed others to put on you, I would be dead. They are unrealistic. NO one can live up to that!” I then began to sob!
For the next hour she helped me sort out “realistic expectations” for myself and also “step up and delegate a higher expectation” to others. I somehow had allowed…..myself to assume the “role” of Wonder Woman. I wore that title proudly until…..I hit a wall going about 110 mph and the “crash” wasn’t pretty and, needless to say, was excruciating.
God’s purposes are never limited by the expectations of others or the ones we self-impose. It took some time for me to get before God with an open heart, mind, and hand and relinquish some things I had been holding tightly–like my title–“Wonder Woman!” I came to realize, “God loves me too much for me to ever become necessary to do everything!” Yes, He has things He wants me to do and be responsible for, especially my personal, one-on-one time with HIM (at that time it was non-existent). He has responsibilities that HE has given me….but I had “robbed” others of their responsibilities…..!
I had to learn to rest in a restless world and restless household….Do you FEEL me here???? I had to relearn what Jesus says and accept the invitation to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
In my resting….He showed me Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
In my resting…..God showed me “my monkeys,” what I call my responsibilities, a term coined by the parenting curriculum, “Growing Kids God’s Way”. He showed me how and when to turn other “Monkeys” over to others…. in essence, I had to give back to others their responsibilities…which I had taken from them.
Some were emotions…Haha…yes, I was even owning someone else’s bad day! AS I began to do the work….of mentally and physically “dropping my hands“…..and meeting God’s expectations of me….the funniest thing happened…..Can you guess?….DUH….things got a whole lot better. I cannot pinpoint the exact time when I started to live in what I like to call the “grey” area of life….where the lines of responsibility…became blurred….”a lack of boundaries”…but it caused me to look in the mirror one day and say, “Who are you? What are you doing?”
I had lost myself….lost from the unrealistic expectations I had put on myself and allowed others to place on me….It was no one’s fault but my own! I could not blame anyone but myself! NO one did it to me…..I allowed it!
I do know it all needed to happen because, on the “totem pole of my life,” God was not first…He could have been second, but it didn’t matter…..IF He is second …He might as well be last. God is a jealous God….HE wants our undivided attention…that includes our spouse and our kids!
He wants to be first.
Jesus basically tells Martha this same thing in Luke 10:39-42, “And she [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary placed spending time with Jesus first, above all other expectations.
I encourage you to ask yourself……Is anyone or anything in front of God in your life???? IF so, STOP…….DON’T WAIT FOR THE CRASH………..WE were created to Walk directly behind Him with no one or no thing blocking our view!