what did you expect?
Happy Mother’s Day!
Our original blog (started as katiemaryschuk.com) is officially four years old and we’re celebrating today all of the mamas that are now, mamas that have been, mamas yet to be and those of you who yearn to be one. We know today can be both a beautiful but also sad day, and so we hold you mamas up in our hearts and thank you for the sacrifices you make every day for us.
Our theme for the month of May on Worthy is expectations. If I’m being really honest, I didn’t have anything drafted up in the docket nor have I written anything yet because I myself am struggling with how to approach this theme. It’s a tough one and an idea filled with a hefty amount of ambiguity. There are several ways to approach this phrase, but I figured I’d start somewhere and see where we got.
Let’s start by defining the word. I hear pastors do that, and I appreciate it when I have a solid foundational understanding of what the word means before I dive into even remotely trying to explain it. My computer dictionary reads that the word expectation means “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case”. It goes on to give a few phrases and immediately says that the phrase “manage expectations” is an element of realistically altering goals and undertakings so not to experience disappointment.
I sit here scratching my head because I sense there’s this chunk of negativity slapped on to the word. Like when we manage our expectations it’s because we’ve experienced disappointment so many times within the world of creating/crafting/drafting them that it’s simply part of the definition. You make an expectation, from what my dictionary reads, and it seems like I’d better make it my goal to avoid disappointment.
Which makes sense. I mean, I don’t really want to be disappointed do I? Do you? I didn’t think so. You want what you dream and envision to match and in the best possible scenario, go beyond what you expect. It’s a matching experience.
So then I start to wonder why we’re disappointed so often? How is it that we craft and curate expectations so much (probably every day if you think about it), that we’ve defined it as the prevention of disappointment? We don’t want to fail, we don’t want to fall short, we simply must find a match.
I think it’s because what we expect either a. is so far fetched we don’t even realize it, b. it is a societal norm, but not honouring to God or c. not dependent on our own vision for our lives (remembering that God has an awesome thing planned for us).
Don’t think that I’m saying not to set goals and not to dream. God calls us to draft up big and scary and audacious goals, but in a really God-honouring way we can be realistic about the way we approach our own expectations in life. I also don’t think disappointment is a bad thing, because in a way it’s a kind of pain and pain is letting us know that whatever we’re experiencing is deviating from what is right and true and good. Think about it like breaking your leg. The pain you are feeling is because your leg isn’t meant to be broken. The same goes for our hearts and our expectations that we create. We feel disappointed because what we experience is far from what is good or true or right. Does that make sense?
On the note of things being far fetched, I think of this like a slippery slope. I’ve experienced this numerous times over the past while in watching television. You start by watching a show, and you then begin to unhealthily binge watch episode after episode. In those 60 minute segments, you see and experience storylines and characters that are completely fictional, but because you’re focused on the show, all else falls away. The plot line is compelling, you’re sucked in and you’re left wondering where the heck your 1920’s lord or duke is coming in the door to sweep you off your feet (any Downton fans out there??!). It’s like you’re left in a trance and at one point you look back and realize what a ridiculous slope you slid down - it’s pretty far fetched because the storylines are not true to your life. They may have elements of truth in them - people fall in love, have children, get married, experience hardship - but it is not YOUR life. You are not a character in a television series (sorry to let you down).
On the note of expectations being societal norms, I love talking about this because Christ calls us to live differently. I LOVE this part about what God calls us to be, because it means we have every opportunity to go against the grain and stand up against societal norms. However, we craft expectations because we’re still living and breathing in a world that is filled with people who don’t live the way Christ commissions us to live. So we see things around us and because we’re human, we expect the same. I see my friends getting married young, so I expect the same. I see my friends making a lot of money, so I expect the same. The list goes on.
Finally, I love reading about how great and extravagant God’s love is for us. And, what He expects of us versus the expectations we put on ourselves. This is perhaps the element of expectation that I resonate with the most, because as a retired perfectionist, I see and identify with holding oneself to an expectation or collection of pressures that don’t resonate with what God has for us.
I love this quote from Jessie Miller. She writes, “I decided, back in a deep corner of my heart, that in order to really please Him, I had to surprise Him with my victory".”
We hold ourselves to what we do and expect that life is crafted around what we can accomplish. I do this every. single. day. My expectations come in the form of a checklist - things to do and check off a list and accomplish rather than what the heart of God has for me. Maybe some days He does want me to check things off a list because it fuels the fire for greater plans and bigger ambitions that please Him. But, we don’t serve a God of checklists. We come before a God of love and grace, that hopes that we would honour Him with who we are and what we do.
I come back to this line when I need reminding of what my expectations should be: “God cares more about the condition of your heart than what you do or accomplish” (severely paraphrased). We expect that life with God is simply a 1-2 solution, or like two pieces of a puzzle fitting together, when in reality we have the opportunity to ask Him what expectations He has of us, that are more character defining than task-accomplishing. It’s a refining, ever-changing life with Him, yet His expectations for our lives in the grandest sense remain the same: to love and honour Him.
In the day to day, the mundane, the exciting, the hills and valleys, when it comes to crafting expectations we settle on plans because expectation also requires an element of anticipation. When I expect something, it’s usually in the future, and when I talk about expectations, while I’ll discuss whether or not something lived up to my expectations at a past event, I’m usually thinking about what comes next. It’s like expectations go hand in hand with planning, waiting and patiently hoping for God to do something great.
And that’s what I want to leave you with. While my computer dictionary sheds a negative connotation on the word, I encourage you to think about the word with a new light - God’s light. What expectations does He have of you? It comes back to honouring Him and bringing the Lord joy - what He commissioned us to do in the first place. To love Him and to love others.
If you TRULY let God take control of what you expected out of your day, your week or even your life, what would change? What does that look like? I’d love to know.