The Daunting Expectations (That Don’t Actually Exist)

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The Art Of Surrender: Trading In Your Perfect Performance For Present Peace. [Chapter 1]

Joyful laughs, satisfied faces from the holiday meal, sultry jazz tunes in the background, and only the remnants of pumpkin pie crumbs left in the cracks of the wooden table. Thanksgiving night was coming to a close, all the goodbye hugs were given along with the endless “thanks for having us – it was delicious” remarks.

“They’re leaving already? Is it really over” I thought to myself. My face still flushed from food-prepping and frantically cleaning since 6 o’clock that morning.

I couldn’t recall the joy from that day or the taste of the succulent slow-cooked turkey, my first home-made pie crust, or the stories being told from cousins, aunts, parents, and siblings.

I didn’t sit on the couch with a piping cup of coffee to wash down dinner and listen to the laughs of those around me.

But man, were those baseboards clean.

There I was – 10:30 pm – me, my flushed face, and those SUPER clean baseboards that everyone obviously noticed and marveled at the whole time….

By the time I felt like I had cleaned PERFECTLY, cooked GOOD ENOUGH, and DONE enough to justify enjoying the day, it was over. And the people I thought I was doing the cleaning, cooking, and “do-ing” for were long gone.

Is it possible that the expectations I assumed they had for me, this day, my house, and my cooking ability were actually…just my own made up “standards” for myself?

I began to realize how often I do this – in all areas of life. Work, marriage, date night, friendships, my workouts, and simple grocery store trips.

I EXPECT things to go a certain way – and if, or rather, WHEN they don’t – I’m either left 1) discouraged, 2) straight up ticked off, 3) or playing the blame game to myself or other to justify WHY things didn’t go the way I expected them to.

If you’re anything like me – you probably do this most with things you care most about or are really looking forward to.

Can you say “date night” anyone? And all the husbands said AMEN.

Or I don’t know… I might even be worse on my birthday. I really like to take the cake (pun intended) on this day and drive home the “it’s my birthday I can cry if I want to” anthem. Whether it’s my 3rd birthday or my 26th birthday. I’m not a diva, it’s fine.

Whether it’s my birthday or date night – or whatever it may be – one thing I can ALWAYS count on is my expectations for it. I craft up how it SHOULD go in my head, knowing deep down that this is not at all the way it WILL go.

And I’ve come to learn 2 things when it comes to expectations…

1 – We make up these ludicrous expectations as a form of control. We don’t like the unknown of IF something may or may not turn out great, so we design a story that we feel confident won’t happen so that we have control over knowing we will be disappointed – instead of being open to the vague possibility of what might actually happen.

Are you still with me?

Or there’s 2- The more simple explanation… We feel the need to prove our worth to those around us and show them why we’re important – simply because we don’t believe the redemption story God has placed on our lives. We want to work and earn “good things” and the approval of others – instead of RESTING in who Jesus says we are.

Not to say there aren’t past hurts or scars that cause some people to operate in this expectation-driven mindset.

But when we transfer our expectations from our ability to deliver to others, or others ability to deliver to us – and instead we place our expectations on God, His character, and His promises, we will no longer be waiting for a delivery that never shows up or satisfies us the way we want it to.

Sure, there are some people who do expect things from us – maybe they’re not all made up. And sure, some of our expectations we have for others or situations are even justified or good. But until we prioritize God’s truth, promises, and character as the foundation and cornerstone for the rest of our expectations in life, we will live with a skewed vision and a dry empty well.

When we lift up our eyes from ourselves and how we can be served or displayed in a good light – and instead we instead fix our gaze on knowing, pursuing, and displaying God we will find that even WHEN we don’t fulfill what we thought we should, or others don’t provide a 12/10 performance on our birthdays we can remain satisfied and affirmed.

Practically speaking, this could look like:

  1. Spending time with God daily – no matter how long or short. Just crack open your bible or say a prayer on the way to work if that’s all you have time for.
  2. Simply obeying His commands laid out in scripture – this comes from knowing Him and His word (spending time with Him).
  3. Recall his Character – as you read the word and grow closer to him and see His hand in your life, become aware of His different characteristics and aim to live those out in your own life.
  4. Take time to be STILL and LISTEN. Intentionally set aside time not ask, complain about, or vent to Him about anything – but instead, just let Him intervene and place things on your heart or reveal things to you.
  5. Be sensitive to God’s spirit and reacting to His promptings – which can be a little more difficult in this busy & tech-heavy day. But God desires community and one-ness with us all day, everyday. So if we listen and respond, we can see that He’s providing guidance every step of the way.

I know the burden that expectations of ourselves and others can bring. But I know that there is a sweeter, more satisfying way to live and function and that is only fully relying on the expectation for God to continuously live out His promises and letting all other things fall underneath that truth.

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Missed the introduction to The Art Of Surrender: Trading In Your Perfect Performance For Present Peace? Read it here.

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