Expectations are tricky. If we expect too much, we often get disappointed. If we expect too little, we may not strive as hard as we should to meet a particular goal or to be our personal best. We need expectations that hold us to a high standard of living.
Everyone has expectations. We expect our children, our spouses or our friends to behave in a particular way. We expect our appliances and automobile to perform the way they were meant to function. We expect pay for the work we do. Life is full of expectations of one kind or another.
One of my friends recently got engaged. It has been interesting to see her expectations of this new relationship evolve. Her views on relationships had been seriously damaged because of bad experiences in the past. I’ve watched her expect the least from the possibility of this engagement because she was so hurt and disappointed by relationships in the past. Yet, as this gentleman (a widower), has treated her with the sincerest respect and kindness, her level of expectations has risen considerably. He is spoiling her rotten. Gradually, I have watched her embrace the idea that she can expect better than what she has ever known in the past. With that, I hope she expects the very best of herself.
When two people begin a relationship, what they expect of each other is filtered through what they have already experienced in the past. If they had abusive parents who were cruel to each other, they may expect to be abused. Or if they had a disastrous marriage, they may fear the failure of another one. If they come from a background of love and kindness from the people in their lives, they may expect to always be treated in that way.
What we expect may determine what we get in some ways.
When a farmer plows the earth, plants his seeds, fertilizes, waters and tends his crop, he expects to be rewarded with food from his garden. When he puts forth the effort and is faithful in tending his crop, he can expect to enjoy the fruit of his labors. If he didn’t have an expectation for a good outcome, he probably wouldn’t use his time and energy to raise a garden in the first place. From the very beginning, he has an expectation that he must behave in a certain way and do a certain amount of work to have the result he hopes for.
People who expect things without any effort on their own part are often disappointed, and in my opinion, they should be. The sense of “entitlement” that has grown in this country is part of what threatens to destroy our society. What if everyone expected to get back from life only what they put in instead of thinking they are entitled to have all of their needs met by someone else?
Hope and expectation are actually two different things. When we hope for something, we think it might be a possibility that could happen. But when we expect something, we are planning on it actually taking place, and sincerely believe it will happen.
I’ve often heard the expression, “Don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed.” You may be tempted to think or feel that way if you’ve had to deal with disappointment. The truth is, life is disappointing at times. People disappoint us often. The outcome we expected or had hoped for often does not become a reality.
Have you ever wanted something really badly for your birthday or Christmas and didn’t get it? Have you ever had a friend tell you they would come by to visit and then they didn’t show up? Have you ever had someone promise to do something important that you have asked them to do, but they just never get around to it?
These little types of disappointments may shatter our expectations, but without expectations, we have very little hope and not nearly enough faith in our dreams.
I read a poster today that said, “Don’t expect to have positive changes in your life if you surround yourself with negative people!”
Negative people will suck the life out of you until you’re nothing left but powdered milk… dust in the wind. We are all negative from time to time, but to stay in that mental attitude will turn our expectations into only anticipating bad things to come our way.
I’ve had many disappointments in my life, as have most of us. But I’ve also had wonderful, amazing things happen also. I’ve had some dreams come true. I have wonderful friends and family. I have loved my career as a teacher. Things haven’t turned out the way I expected up to this point, but I am still expecting wonderful things in the future.
I am willing to do the work or “put in” good things in my life and I believe that the crop I will reap from those seeds will be a good one. I believe that God still has a plan for me, a hope, and a future. My expectation of God’s investment in my life is the very highest. I expect Him to continue to surprise me with His love, His open doors of opportunity, and His plan for a meaningful future for me all the days of my life. I the big picture, I expect to win.
My greatest desire when I depart this life is that God would say to me, “Well done, faithful servant.” That is my hope and my goal. My expectation is certainly to spend eternity in the presence of God.
Our expectations make a difference in how we think and how we behave, how we treat others, and how we plan for the future. What we expect from others is important, but what we expect from ourselves is even more important.
When the day is done and we look at the outcomes, what did we expect?