Tuesday, 10 January 2017

How To Turn Your Pesky Expectations Right Side Up

It was the morning after New Year’s Eve, and I lay restless in my bed. I kept thinking about my friend. I could hear her voice now. Distraught and choked by tears, she had shared with me how her night had been ruined.

She had made the best plans - down to the smallest detail. With decorations, snacks, and the ideal setting prepared, she had been thoroughly anticipating the celebration to come. Through all the readying her excitement had been mounting, and she could hardly wait. She thought it would be superb; that everyone would love it, and that they would all have such a wonderful time.

And then…

It all came tumbling down.

Her vision of the perfect New Year’s celebration - battered and wave tossed- lay shipwrecked around her.  Nothing was as she envisioned it.  The scenario did not unfold as she had pictured.  Persons did not respond as she had hoped. She was overcome by her emotion.  Instead of sailing into the New Year on high seas, as she had expected, she was left clinging to a dingy raft of despair, overwhelmed by her disappointment - a victim of her own expectations.

Expectations. The word roared through my mind like a crashing wave. As I rolled out of bed at the start of this New Year, I knew I had to pay attention. I had seen too many victims fall, had been a casualty myself far too many times.

Time after time, we dream up the perfect scenarios, and with our great, big expectations on board, we outline our next move.

And time after time, when our plans don’t turn out as we expect, we wind up feeling deluded, cheated, and disappointed, like somehow we’ve missed out on what should have been. We feel angry even, and so oftentimes we lash out, at anyone (ourselves included) or anything that could be blamed for spoiling what could have been.

And yet, while we are busily grasping for a lifeline... struggling against the swells of discouragement and anger - fighting against our loved ones, ourselves, even God - those pesky expectations are gathering together and gaining strength. Un-accused, they lie in wait, planning and scheming, waiting to capsize us once again, into a sea of discontent.  

Expectations. As the word surged through my mind, I knew this year had to be different. I would not be raided yet again. This year I am recapturing joy, and I have to be ready... ready to seize my expectations... and turn them right side up.

You see, nothing is wrong with having expectations, per se. It’s just that we have them turned upside down. We expect too much from man, and not enough from God.
‘Lower your expectations of earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.’ Max Lucado
I, for one, am guilty of expecting way too much from myself. And when you expect perfection, one of two things can happen, you either drive yourself to the point of exhaustion always striving for the perfect - which always sits right outside of your grasp, by the way - or you just don’t bother to try at all if it seems like perfection is impossible.  What’s worse you put those same unrealistic expectations on others. And as we have seen, ‘today’s expectations are tomorrow’s resentments.’

But what if I did it differently. What if I simply expected man to be man, and God to be God.

I could expect that Man, though created in the image of God, has been marred by the Fall. I could expect that, even for followers of Christ, while God is transforming us to be more like His Son, well... we’re simply not there yet. We mess up.

And when that happens, as it inevitably does, I could expect that God, in His mercy, will have compassion on us.
‘Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.’ Psalm 103: 13-14

And because, my God is perfect in all of His ways, here is what else I can expect from Him:

I can expect that God will supernaturally enable me to show that same mercy and grace to those around me, and to myself, when we continually fall short.  

I can expect that when I feel weak, unequipped, or disillusioned, I can run to my God who defines Strength and who 'can do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within [me]'. (Ephesians 3:20)

In fact, I can expect that God gives me everything I need for life and godly living. 
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1: 3- 4
No matter what happens or how I feel, no matter how many times I am tossed overboard by my faulty expectations, I can expect for my God to be always right here with me. 
‘...because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 
And, I can expect that as I draw near to Him, I will find Him to be ever faithful, and in His presence I will experience joy to the full. 
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews10: 23  
'You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.' Psalm 16:11

So, this New Year, I’m turning my expectations right side up. I can already feel the hope rising. It's like having a brand new expectation.

I’m seeking Jesus anew, and I'm expecting to unearth a JOY worth treasuring and savoring, a JOY that can withstand the tide of my circumstances... a JOY not based on my expectations of others or myself, but on God’s promise for those who sit at His feet.
‘Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.’ John Piper

It’s an expectation that can’t be disappointed.

What about you?

Have you been a victim of your own expectations?

Are you ready to turn them right side up?

What are you expecting from God this year?


  1. Very timely, Carlie; and yes, I've been a victim of dashed expectations more times than I want to count. Thanks for pointing out that man WILL fail but God WON'T.

    Love that Piper quote, by the way. I wans to see the beauty of Christ both in the word and in the world.

    Thanks for sharing at The Loft today!

    1. Yep, Jerralea, that's my focus, too, to see the beauty of Christ all around me. Thanks for visiting. It's always such a pleasure to visit The Loft!

  2. Oh boy, I know those pesky expectations only too well. They really can ruin a good thing. I'm so glad you've been able to grab them by the tail and put them in their place and hopefully, pass on the lessons learned to your friend as well. Because, after all, we all need encouragement along the way.

    By the way, I love the new look of your blog. So fresh and full of life -- joy perhaps. :-)

    1. Thanks, Marv! And yes, my friend and I had a good talk about turning our expectations right side up. We're now both on the look out, and hopefully better prepared. :)

  3. Oh yes Carlie, I know the tension that lives between perfection and acceptance too well! Love your words of truth today. xoxo

    1. Thanks, Nicki! So nice to have you visit!

  4. Excellent article! You've nailed something that hammers women over and over. Expectations are rarely met by people. Maybe that's why we like books and writers write. We can make up scenarios in our own heads and make them work.

    May God bless you as you seek Jesus this year. Thank you for talking back at Harvest Lane Cottage. I hope we'll become blog friends.

    Laura Lane

    1. Always nice to make a new friend, Laura! Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts and your sweet encouragement.

  5. I so enjoy a discussion of healthy expectations - and you provide just that! Wishing you the healthy expectation of God's Shalom this year!

    1. Thank you, so much. What more can I ask for - God's Shalom; that's exactly where I want to be.

  6. I, too, often have great expectations and, when they go unmet, I allow disappointment, discouragement, or sadness to take over. At times my expectations are based on what other people do ~ and they may not even know of my expectations, or just fail to meet them unintentionally.

    I need to remember to avail myself of God's grace, set aside my expectations, and be thankful that I have a God who never fails and who always allows the things that happen in my life for His glory and my good.

    1. Well said, Tracey! Great advice for all of us. May we always remember that God allows it for His glory and our good. Thanks for visiting!

  7. Thank you for sharing this post over at the Grace & Truth Link Up Party!

    1. You're welcome, Starla! I'm always so blessed when I visit Grace & Truth.


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