Not long ago I realized anew one reason I allow myself to sink down a slippery slope in my mind and emotions centers on unrealistic expectations.
The problem comes when I possess high expectations of people and minimal expectations of God.
This happens in my vital relationships, especially in marriage.
Today I looked up the word expectation. I read: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a belief that someone will or should achieve something.”
The Amplified connects the two words expect and hope: “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31)
I wrote about this subject in my book, Or For Worse; Loving Your Husband Through Hard Times.
In the chapter titled, “Holding On To Hope,” I listed all the hopes I focused on in regard to changes I longed to see in my husband. Then I came to this conclusion as I discovered the list brought on disappointment:
“I saw God did not reside at the center of my hopes. Instead of hoping my husband would change, I needed to put my hope in God.
As I studied the Word and looked up verses about hope, I began to understand how wrong it was to put my hope (my highest expectations) in my husband, a fallible man who failed often. When I put my hope in God and His unfailing love for me, I found myself more joyful and having fewer ups and downs in my emotional life in regard to marriage.”
Here’s more from the book: “On the way to a counseling session one day, my husband accused me of this: ‘You have lost hope in me.’
After I thought about it for a few minutes, I realized hoping in him had been my problem—even in the latest crisis we dealt with in counseling.
‘Honey, my problem is I keep putting my hope in you and not in God,” I said. “This is why I repeatedly get crushed by disappointment.’
God’s Word reminds me that the right kind of hope—hope in God and His unfailing love ‘does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts’ (Romans 5:5).”
My lessons learned about marriage apply to every relationship in my life. If I let go of unrealistic expectation of others, I free myself to love them unconditionally in the present moment and not “if you meet my expectations.”
When I let go of high expectations of people, I center on expecting from/hoping in God. Some verses I found which highlight the word expect follow:
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 NIV
Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You [You only and altogether] do I wait [expectantly] all the day long. Psalm 25:5 AMPC
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for and expect You. Psalm 25:21
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity; I have [expectantly] trusted in, leaned on, and relied on the Lord without wavering and I shall not slide. Psalm 26:1
Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord. Psalm 27:14
As I read these verses I discover another word related to hope and expectations. The word? Wait. If my hope and expectation truly remain fixed on God, my heart wills to wait for Him.
Sometimes it seems He takes a long time to intervene, but if no waiting happened, would I grow in faith?
I know I have my expectations centered on God and not people when my focus remains on Him and His promises and not them and their problems.
Today I pray God will help me to let go of unrealistic expectations of people (including myself) and turn my expectations toward Him. As I look again at the definition, I pray I will maintain “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future;” and that I will embrace “a belief that someone (God) will or should achieve something.”
No, He may not act in ways I want—or even demand–but He will perform on my behalf as He does again and again. Even now as I write this, I sense His peace begin to wash over me.
And this song comes to mind, a song God gave me years ago in the midst of a major family crisis: “Everything will be alright, everything will be alright, into the darkness, I will shine my light, and everything will be alright…”
I determine to do what Psalm 27:14 instructs: “wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”
Note: God healed our marriage in mighty ways. We love each other now more than ever. He is able!
“Expecting” by William McDowell