Throughout these last few weeks as I have considered this word, expectation, I have begun to recognize the different ways it has been used within my life. At times, I have even tolerated its control of me because when my expectations were being met I was a happy camper, but, when they veered off course, so did my mood. The hardest lesson for me began when I realized that all of my expectations can be used to destroy me. Several years ago I once had someone say to me; "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, my daughter." This was a perfect word for me because it held so much truth. I was living on expectation, which I don't think is all together a bad thing. The trouble for me is placing my fait, in my expectations, because when they aren't met, I am swallowed up in disappointment. I've begun to examine closely where I have placed my expectations, and even where I haven't. And as I have read through many statuses on the Social Network Sites, I can see that I am not the only one who is controlled by expectations. We all place our expectations on many factors; people, places, things and circumstance. Some easy ones for me to point out are;
on myself: I expect to do my part within my marriage to keep it happy and whole. I expect the mom in me to be the best one I can be. I expect to be a good and devoted friend. To be honest, kind, forgiving and trustworthy are also characteristics I expect to flow from who I am.
on my husband; I expect him to be faithful; I expect him to come home every night; I expect his love to be for me, for always. I expect us to be best friends forever. I expect him to be devoted to God, our kids and me.
on our children. When they were young we expected behavior and grades that proved they were living up to their potential and honored their father and mother. With each one grown and out of the house, I expect a birthday card and Mother's Day card. (Big fat grin).
on my friends. I have expected much of those with whom I share friendship. I expect my friends to believe the best of me and love me unconditionally. I have expected friends to show me support and encouragement, to rejoice with me and to grieve with me.
on family. There are different expectations within a large extended family. But regardless of all the different personalities and beliefs within family relationships, I expect family to love and support one another.
on my car. I always expect my car to start when I put the key in the ignition, just as I always expect the lights to turn on when I flip the switch and water to run from the faucet.
The disappointment within those expectations ensues when they become unrealistic. Perfection is one word that comes to mind when I consider what I expect of myself. How can I ever meet that? I can never be perfect, so why do I set myself up for failure by expecting that I can? Silly, but true. This is also true when it comes to my husband, my children and my friends. I have expected them to meet needs in my life that only the Lord can fulfill. I have expected them to read my mind and know what I need, exactly when, and how I need it. Each time I set my expectations on another person to meet, I am setting myself up for that great big let down. We so freely put many expectations on the people in our lives. Maybe it is time to ask ourselves how to place our expectations on the One able to meet them.
Wouldn't it simplify our lives and our relationships if we were able to put our hope/expectations on God? If someone doesn't respond to me the way I am expecting, rather than allow it to hurt my feelings, which in turn, hurts the relationship; can I turn to God and expect Him to respond to those needs? If I find myself disappointed by unfulfilled expectations, can I turn to the verse in Psalm 62:5 and remind "my soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." If I want to live free then I really must. And until I can I will always find myself battling disappointment and let downs because God never intended for anyone or anything to meet the need I have for Him. Do you want to be someone else's expectation? What if you fail at the job? I gladly hand that responsibility over to the Lord. He is much better at knowing how to fulfill expectations and meet the needs of others. We just need to place our expectations on Him, rather than others.
The word expectation is the act or state of looking forward or anticipating (dictionary.com). It is from the Hebrew word tiqvah and can be translated to hope or the thing that I long for. Job prayed, "Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant me the thing that I long for" (Job 6:8)! What would happen if we began to pray "looking forward, or anticipating" that God will answer our prayers, in His time, and in His way. The Lord really convicted me of my prayer expectations after we arrived home from our recent trip and I found myself listening to a message on our answering machine that I never expected. It was so surprising to me that I repeatedly told the Lord how amazed I was by this phone call. After a day of stating my shock to Him, I was reminded by Him, that I had actually prayed often for this phone call. It involved reconciliation and healing that I had been seeking for several years. It was at this point that He began to question me about my expectations in prayer. When I pray, do I expect Him to act on my behalf? What do I pray for if I am not expecting Him to answer? Once again, where am I placing my expectations? When I pray I am supposed to believe I have received them (Mark 11:24). I guess I needed a reminder that God hears the prayers of the righteous and He wants me to expect that He will answer. He is waiting for me to put my expectations in Him to fulfill all that He has promised in His Word for me.
Ask yourself, when expectation meets reality does it crush you? Does disappointment overcome you and cause you to sink in depression? When someone you expected "better than that from" lets you down, how do you respond? if you have repeatedly expected someone to follow through on a promise, but have yet to see it fulfilled, why are you still placing your expectations on them? Maybe it is time to commit them to prayer and ask the Lord to help you place your expectations on Him. Then, when you are let down by the person, you can run to Him. I have found that I can now say; "Lord, my expectation is in You in this situation. I expect that you will bring good out of bad. I expect you to heal my heart and take away the hurt and disappointment." What is it that you long for? I pray that we begin to tell our souls to "wait silently for God alone" so that our expectations are found in Him alone.
Be blessed as you wait upon Him!