Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Problem With Expectations

With Mother's Day so recently behind us I thought it would be a good time to talk about expectations. It seems so often we are hurt because someone didn't do what we thought they should or hoped that they would.

The saying about those we love are the ones who hurt us the worst is true. But have you ever stopped to think about WHY this is true? Could it possibly be because when someone we love doesn't do what we think they should, it hurts. When they talk about us behind our backs, it hurts. But when someone we don't really know or care about does it, we either get mad or just really don't even care. When someone we love doesn't agree with something we're doing, it hurts. Again, when it's someone we only know as an aquaintance, who cares what they think, right? I have found this to be very true when it comes to our decision to homeschool. Knowing our own family members don't agree with us hurts because we feel like they're not taking the time or they don't care enough to listen and understand us and it hurts. But when the cashier at Wal-Mart spews her little snide remard about how unsocialized our children will be, I really could care less. It's none of her business anyway.

So when certain holidays come around, we automatically set ourselves up for disappointment and hurt. Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas. These are days when people we love, or that love us, are SUPPOSED to do things for us and buy us nice gifts, right? Says who?! Let me ask you a question. Just who is it that made the rule that says we're supposed to go out and spend money on these particular days of the year, sometimes money we don't even have to spend, on other people just to prove that we love them? And if we don't, we're eat up with guilt, either self-inflicted or poured on us by others.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional well-thought gift and special treatment. But I don't expect it. That only sets myself up for hurt and disappointment. What means more to me than having one day out of the year where I'm shown love is the million other little things throughout the year that my family does to show me how much they care for me. The hand-drawn pictures and cards from my children. The bushes my sweet hubby cut down for me because he knew how much I hated them. The bagel my precious 7 year old son made for me. The candle my mother in law gave me out of her Home Interior order because she knows how much I love them. The books my mom finds at yard sales she thinks I'll enjoy.

Those are the true expressions of love. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the world's view of what we 'should' do and the guilt that comes if we don't do what everyone else does or expects us to do. How ridiculous.

Listen, as long as we're in this world, people are going to hurt us. That's just part of being human. And you know what? They usually really don't mean to hurt us. But they're only human too, and those things are going to happen. Have you ever stopped to think about the times that maybe we unintentionally hurt or disappointed others? See, that's the thing most people aren't willing to do. It's much harder to look in the mirror than it is to point our finger. But that's exactly what we need to do.

As long as we're in this world the ONLY one that will never hurt us or do us any harm is our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus. And until we begin to let go of our expectations of others and begin to trust only in Him, we will continue to be hurt and disappointed over and over. And in my opinion, it's just not worth it. What a waste of time to get hurt at others when they're only human.

Are some people selfish and thoughtless? Yes, they certainly are. Should we take the time and effort to show those we love how we feel about them? Absolutely! But we're not going to change anyone by getting hurt and pouting. That only hurts US. That robs us of our joy and peace. How sad for those who are so self-centered that they don't even see how they hurt others. How much more pleasing would we be to our Lord if we instead prayed for those who hurt us instead of allowing the hurt to take root in our hearts?

Just something to think about.

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