Kaylee Page: Organizer and Planner. Dependent on caffeine – sadly. Favorite words: joy, peace, community, embrace. Devoted Wife. Proud Mother. Finds the best in everything.
Something expected. That’s one of the definitions of expectations. Seriously, I just googled it. So then I googled expected. And expected means “regard as likely to happen.” That essentially means expectations are something we imagine, anticipate and believe will happen. But we all know that what we expect to happen doesn’t always happen. In fact, often does not happen.
I’ve been thinking about this and what’s funny to me is that expectations lie in the future, something we surely cannot fully control. Yet, to some extent, to some degree we can. So it’s tricky. But I think we tend to rely too much on the “likely” part and often forget that we create our expectations for ourselves. Expectations are sort of like our dreams, goals, hopes. And we usually dream for the best – but let’s be honest, expectations often have our best interest in mind. Which is great, but since we tend to tailor our expectations to match what we want from people, from life, we tend to leave a great margin of possible error when it comes to our anticipated outcomes. Among us, billions of expectations collide each moment, each hour, each day. When they collide they may go our way or they may go another’s way, and sometimes they all go together. But we don’t know how our expectations will play out until they actually play out.
So, I’ve learned expectations need to be managed. And here’s how I manage them:
One | I expect things of myself: I try and be the best version of myself, to be honest, to be patient, to be kind, to complete what I do to the best of my ability. To be a faithful wife, devoted mother and loving person. I have expectations for myself, for the person I want to be and how I am going to live my life. I expect excellence of myself. That is, the best foot I can put forward (some days that’s a really springy, full of life and successful step and sometimes my best step is a tired, worn out, not so amazing step, but the best step I can put forward will go forward!)
Two| I expect to have expectations. I don’t want to be the person who lowers my expectations thinking that by doing so, I’ll never be disappointed. We need expectations. We really do. I like Tonya Hurley’s way of saying it:
If you expect nothing, you can never be disappointed. Apart from a few starry-eyed poets or monks living on a mountaintop somewhere, however, we all have expectations. We not only have them, we need them. They fuel our dreams, our hopes, and our lives like some super-caffeinated energy drink.
Three | I expect to be let down. By people, by events, by changes to my anticipated future. Expectations can be lethal. They can limit our vision of the endless opportunities that lie ahead. They can keep us from enjoying what life brings. They can hold us back from moving forward, from stepping into the present. Stubborn to step into our un-anticipated plans we cling to what we had expected, stuck paralyzed somewhere between the past and present. Just stuck! A dreadful place to be.
Four | I expect my expectations to require grace. There’s a quote by Donald Miller, “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” (Nice, Don, I like it!) When we stop expecting our version of perfect it creates space to like and enjoy what has come to be. We can do our best to lay out the the vision, the dream, our plans. We can do our best to work every corner, every detail, every step of the process. But to some extent every endeavor we take on has a bit of mystery to it. We do everything we can, but at some point we must simply watch as it evolves, unravels or progresses. I think that’s scary… and well… kind of fun. To the very nature of the fact that humans fail, to the outcomes we don’t plan on, the changes we don’t anticipate and the crazy way the wind blows… grace must be more than ever present. It must flood our minds, dominate our thinking and guide us through the sometimes unexpected, cloudy, confusing and unanticipated paths we travel.
I just saw a phrase, and I think it ‘bout sums it up: Expectations must be reasonably grounded.
To that I say, Amen and Bravo!