Expectations have worked against me nearly all of my life. It is something I have been working to correct since this realization surfaced. I know once I am successful in changing my thinking, life will be simpler for me.
I have spent my life expecting people to return my phone calls the way I return theirs; do the job the way I would do it; consider my feelings the way I do theirs; give a matter the same importance I give it; read their emails as often as I read mine; be punctual; be as enthusiastic about the project as I am; and on, and on, and on. I now realize if I have my expectations set high, I am usually going to be disappointed. I have been setting myself up for a let down for years. What is crazy about it is when a person failed my expectation I would hold it against them on some level.
The question I have had to ask myself is – does it make any sense to have negative feelings toward a person because they didn’t respond the way I expected? Does it make sense to work at forgiving them for something they did or didn’t do just because I expected them to do or not do something? Not to me. Not any more. I’m the one who suffers. I’m the one who expends all the emotional energy dealing with the issue. It’s kind of like getting angry with a person who cuts me off in traffic and letting it ruin my day, or at least part of it. They may not even be aware of their action. If they did mean to do it, they couldn’t care less about my emotions. Either way I lose.
The only way expectations make sense to me now is if I have developed a relationship with a person that is deep enough that I know them. I mean that I know them well enough that I pretty well know what to expect. Then if their action or no action is different from my expectation I can know something is wrong and I can discuss it with them. There may be something broken that needs to fixed. Or possibly I am assuming something or even taking them for granted.
I am finding, as usual, it is not easy to change my mindset, but with prayer and practice I am changing. I am finding it might be best if my expectations match the level of the relationship I have with a person. A new acquaintance – no expectation; new friendship – low expectation; long time friendship – high expectation. And then it depends on the issue – the level of importance. I now try to ask myself how important is it in my life on a scale of 1 to 10? Will it matter a hundred years from now, 50, 10, 5 or even 1?
I know there is one in whom I can let my expectations soar. He is my best friend and I can discuss everything with Him. I can take my disappointments to Him. He tells me no matter what happens, He works it for good. Meet my best friend–Jesus.