Expectations. They leave you feeling pleasantly surprised or sorely disappointed. Seldom do circumstances or people meet them, they generally go above and beyond your ideals or fail to meet those lofty dreams. Take for instance the day I came home after asking my children to load the dishwasher and sweep the floor. I entered the house completely expecting to see the floors gleaming, the counters shining, the dishwasher full and running, and the sinks scrubbed to a finish a crow would adore. What I actually found was that the dishwasher was loaded and the floor had less dirt on it than when I had left. Now, the children didn’t understand why I was immediately cranky, after all, they had done what I had asked. The problem wasn’t with them, the problem was that I had asked for one thing and expected something entirely different. What I was expecting was above and beyond and let’s face it, none of us are perfect when it comes to that.
I could go in two directions here, one being that we need to be clear when we ask people for help or when we’re sharing our hearts, but what I feel God has been showing me is that our expectations, when placed in the wrong places, can leave us with a myriad of negative emotions. These emotions can then grow into wrong thoughts and subsequently, wrong actions.
A number of years ago I had a lady impart some wisdom that, at the time, I didn’t feel applied to me. I was newly married, had small children who I didn’t expect much from except the occasional full nights sleep, and we had just begun our ministry journey. What she shared with me that day has come racing to the forefront of my mind, because lately I’ve found myself in a time when the expectations I’ve placed on others have left me feeling let down.
That day she told me that I should always be careful not to put expectations on people that only God could meet. Simple. So hard to do sometimes. When I’m feeling lonely, or like I’ve been mistreated, or just weepy, I want my husband to be there for me. I want him to listen to my troubles, I want his undivided attention, and I believe that in some way, I want him to give me a solution. He can’t always do that. He doesn’t have all the answers and he can’t always be home, waiting with bated breath to ‘rescue’ me from some hurt feelings. The problem is that instead of realising that he can’t be ‘all’ for me, I get hurt. In times like those, I’ve placed expectations on him that only God can meet. Only God can be ‘all’ in our lives.
Our husbands, our children, our friends, our jobs, no one and nothing can meet all of our needs in this life except God. When we try to give His place to anyone or anything else, we will end up feeling let down and empty, longing for something more. We were created with a God shaped void, and He’s always there, the friend that sticks closer than a brother, to meet us in our need.
In realizing this, we also need to recognize that we will fail to meet the expectations others. There will be people who will ask us for things and we won’t be able to fulfill the need. They may even try to make you feel guilty for not being there for them, I’ve had it happen, but keep this in mind; Jesus is always there and He doesn’t ever expect you to meet someone’s need in an area only He can.