Expectation – the strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
Have you ever found that sometimes our biggest disappointments and hurts can come from misaligned expectations? Expectations are formed in many different ways – we can set them for our self-based on our own abilities or desires…or other people can set them for us based on promises they make to us or even just simple statements.
But then don’t we take those “simple statements” or promises and either consciously or unconsciously attach our own version of what the outcome should look like?
And then before we know it, our expectations aren’t met. Then like a game of dominos when the first domino finally falls, we are faced with dealing with the consequences. These consequences can present themselves with many different faces, but I know for me a lot of times it starts as frustration. Then if I allow my focus to remain on this small frustration, suddenly it escalates.
Something that started minor, becomes major.
And then if I am not careful this minor misaligned expectation turns into a major consequence of bitterness or resentment. Worst of all is when the recipient of the darts I start throwing out are those close to me. Why? Isn’t it easier to place the responsibility on someone else?
I have been thinking about this a lot this week – in my exhaustion, situations have become bigger than they really are. Picture a balloon attached to a helium tank, it keeps inflating and inflating and inflating until the latex can’t hold anymore…POP. That’s been me this week, mostly in the mornings when I must admit I am not the best version of myself.
We have a 2 1/2-month-old and when we brought him home two weeks ago, I most definitely had a misaligned expectation – I was bringing home a two-month-old.
Pre-transplant our son fought to live – by doing so he slept a lot because it took so much energy to do anything else. He received most of his nutrients via his PICC line and although allowed to bottle feed that was for him to keep the skill. There were no patterns or rhythms at the hospital and the schedule mostly looked like his vitals being constantly taken, him being woken up, doctors and nurses doing everything they could to give him the best outcome. And the best outcome we received, Praise Jesus.
But…the reality – we brought home a newborn.
I wasn’t mentally prepared. I wasn’t emotionally prepared. And physically – I underestimated the toll the last 2 months have had on me.
I had misaligned, misguided expectations.
Have you ever found that the Lord will speak to you in themes? This week as I have been mulling over my expectations, the word grace has come up over and over again. Once it was in conversation with Scott – remember that first year rule we implemented when we got married…well now we may be extending it more than ever!
The next time, it was in a conversation with a friend who reminded me to give myself grace. Why do I need to extend grace to myself? Because once again it’s become apparent to myself that I had set unrealistic expectations.
This time these expectations were directed at myself – I want my physical body back to where I was before Townes. Maybe it’s because I want to wear my old pants (let’s be honest, I haven’t worn pants with a button since October – just call me an early trend setter, pre COVID) or maybe it’s the old saying “if I look good, I feel good” or maybe I am longing for something familiar about myself, something I recognize. I don’t have the answer but nonetheless, I placed these misaligned expectations on myself.
I ran across Hebrews 12:15 this week…coincidence, NO. The Lord always reveals himself. “Watch over each other to make sure that no misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”
What happens when we allow our misaligned, misguided, or unrealistic expectations to fester? A bitter root…an outburst…saying things you don’t mean…taking it out on those you love and hold the most dear. Hopefully no permanent damage takes hold.
What expectations do you have that have led to disappointment lately? Maybe you had a dreamy picture of what it would look like to be “quarantined” at home and the reality is starkly different. Or maybe you thought we would be out of “quarantine” by now, and yet, here we remain.
This week the Lord pursued me. The Good Shepherd himself went on a mission to find me, not because I was lost but because I had started to wander. And he used his children, my friends, my community to get my attention. When he found me, he nudged me, and he will nudge you too — his nudge was simply to remind me of his grace. That he gave his son, so we could experience his grace (unmerited favor). The opposite of our unmet expectations, his grace. When we experience it for ourselves, we can extend it to others.
So this weekend, I sit humbly reflecting on 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
I release my expectations of a 2-month-old and accept a newborn. I believe and stand confidently that Christs’ power will strengthen me in the early hours when I question my own abilities, when I question my strength and my resolve. When the lies start to creep in because of my exhaustion – the lies that tell me I was not made for this. That I don’t have what it takes. That I don’t know how to be a good momma. That I can’t figure out how to help Townes’ tummy ache or help him sleep well. I am reminded, perfection is not on me to complete. Jesus’ love is perfect – it’s all consuming – and through him, I can.
And I find rest – not rest in my own abilities, those have proven to fall short, but in Christ. I mediate on 1 Corinthians 15:10-12, “But God’s amazing Grace has made me who I am! And his Grace to me was not fruitless. In fact, I worked harder than all the rest, yet not in my own strength but God’s, for his empowering grace is poured out upon me.”
Today I picture myself standing under a waterfall hands and head extended up towards to the sky, allowing the water to completely cover me, to continuously cleanse and wash over me. This picture is of God’s grace. It’s covering every nook and cranny, every doubt, lie, and disbelief, every place I feel weak. His grace is sufficient for me; and his grace is available to you too.
Resting in his Grace –
And enjoy some of my favorite pictures from our homecoming 2 weeks ago!