We all have expectations. We have expectations of ourselves, our spouse, our family and friends, our children, God, and the list goes on and on. Have you ever stopped to notice how expectations affect our happiness? When our expectations are met, life is fairly easy. But when our expectations are not met, it can be a different story. Expectations are not a bad thing, but we have to carefully manage how high we set our expectations or we end up feeling sad, angry, disappointed or those who don't meet our expectations can be left feeling unworthy and ashamed and our relationships suffer.
Being a mom brings a whole new world of expectations. Along with expectations I have of my children, I also have more expectations of myself as their mother and teacher. We share with our children what our expectations are of them. This allows them to share their thoughts and feelings about the expectations and if we need to negotiate them, then we do that. Obviously, some things are non-negotiable for us like honesty, kindness, etc. We have no doubt our daughter works to the best of her ability in school. She has made this evident to us. But it's equally important to us that her character is displayed to the best of her ability as well. So, every day I pick her up from school, I ask her "how were you a kind friend today?" She knows I will ask her each and every day and I expect her to share with me how she was a kind friend. I smile because now her younger sister asks her too :) Once she starting asking, I told my almost 4-year-old daugher I was going to ask her the same question every day when I picked her up from preschool and I do! We teach our children that this is what God expects of them as well and that's why it's so important. As they get older, it's easy to raise our expectations. I try to keep my expectations of my children in check so they don't ever feel like they disappoint us or feel unworthy. It's a fine line, but they know we expect them to use their talents and gifts God has given them and do their personal best. We know this will look different for all three of our children, but it never hurts to remind ourselves of this.
Those of us who are married have expectations of our spouses. But how many times do we set expectations of them without sharing what they are? It's likely those are the expectations that don't get met sometimes because our spouse may not even know we have those expectations! Sometimes the expectations are very minor things, but if they aren't communicated, discussed and maybe even negotiated, it can negatively affect our marriage. It's not always easy to negotiate, but we all know marriage must be a give and take in order to survive and even thrive.
I could write a whole blog just on expectations of family, but I'll keep it short :) I personally think we set the highest (and many times unrealistic) expectations of family members and when they fall short of our expectations, it creates resentment and hostility and we can easily lose respect and trust. I think we'd all agree that sometimes it's the hardest to share our expectations with family members. We may be fearful of how they will react or what they will in turn expect from us. Unfortunately, sometimes it's easier and in some cases better to just lower our expectations of certain people (especially family) and be content with their choices and actions. I think it's fair to say that we all have had a time too when we didn't meet someone's expectation of us. But we have to remember we are all human and only human. Through prayer, I've found peace in the fact that I won't always meet others expectations, including those of family member's, and that's okay. At the end of the day, the only expectations we need to focus on are God's. When we hold each other to high expectations while never allowing one another to make mistakes and be human, we are forgetting we are all human!
Whether we think about it much or not, we all have expectations of our friends as well. I'm willing to bet if you think of your closest friends, a few words come to mind with your expectations of them...for me it's, laughter, food for the soul, dependability, etc. These are all great things, but we have to remember since we are all human there will be a time when even our closest friends don't meet our expectations. And here's where grace enters in. Just as we want others to show us grace when we don't meet their expectations, we must be willing to extend grace. Again, we need to change our expectations to be realistic.
It's easy for us to blame others for not meeting our expectations, but maybe we need to take a good hard look at the expectations we set for others. I'm not suggesting we should always expect the worst and just hope for the best, but they must simply be realistic. I encourage you to pray on this today and ask God to show you who you need to extend grace to and ask for his guidance in setting your expectations for them. We also must remember that many times we fail to meet God's expectations of us and yet he continues to show us forgiveness, grace, love and he doesn't allow our human errors to ruin our relationship with Him. He expects us to do the same for others.