Most of us have a pretty narrow view of what the holidays should look like. Many work themselves into a frenzy trying to make everything perfect. It is when we apply those same unrealistic standards to relationships that disaster looms. For people cannot be tweaked like that perfect dinner. Each person is wired slightly and comes with their own distinct programming.
Most are not deliberately obnoxious, but when they do not fit in our vision of what a perfect holiday should look like, we often judge them as such. It all boils down to expectations. I don’t know where we got the idea that our expectations are the best for everyone. One size fits all. That is not reality at all nor is the expectation that because we have always done it “that way” so that’s the way it will unfold again this year.
You would not expect a paraplegic to serve you a banquet. Yet we have no problem expecting a broken person, wounded by life, to meet our every expectation.
It took me most of my life to learn to release friends and family of my expectations I inflict on them (and those they place on me). I had to purpose to release myself from the ones I place on myself and others.
Expectations are generally unspoken; I hardly notice them anymore. For example, I expect that certain actions will yield specific results. Further, I expect that certain people will act in predetermined ways. I am often surprised when this isn’t always true. In my belief system and in my control issues, I hold expectations of what a good marriage looks like, a perfect family or even a good person or success. Sometimes these are too narrow and not godly.
Pain and suffering come when expectations are not met. If I finitely define what a marriage should look like, how children should behave (even adult ones), what success looks like, any other definition of it will bring disappointment. There is no room for God in the boxes that I draw. This black and white thinking often leads not only to disappointment, but hurt and anger and even depression.
Expectations are rooted in desire and fear, anxiety and stress. Often they are birthed out of fear of losing control. Anything less brings grief. If we only could see the tight box they keep us in. This box forces me to see my present experiences only as it fits in my plans for the future. When we release our expectations, we open ourselves to the possibilities of all God has for us.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
If I choose His expected end, even though it appears uncertain to me, I am free of the stress and the disappointment when MY life plan doesn’t work out perfectly.
Instead of keeping my eyes focused on my plan, I choose to focus on Him. He is the reason for living. Let us celebrate the gift of life even when it does unfold the way we thought it would or even should. Let’s look with anticipation to see what can happen when we let God and people out of the box of our expectations.