Thursday, January 21, 2010

Expectations

We had a "life coach" speak to our MOPS group this morning. I didn't get a whole lot out of her talk--it was a little short on substance--but I did take away one nugget, and that is this: expectations get in the way of relationships. She said it a bit more eloquently than I just did, but can you see how that would be the case? Let me give you an example, that has absolutely no basis in reality (I'm being facetious, just in case you thought otherwise). Let's say you're a woman, who has a husband, and you expect him to, oh, I don't know, read your mind regarding your feelings on a certain topic. How many times have you said (oh, I mean how many times do you think this hypothetical woman has said), "he should just know..."? This is the classic example of expectations getting in the way of relationships. Here's another example: let's say I take my children to the swimming pool or the beach and they expect to stay all day, while I expect to go home after lunch. Unless we communicate our expectations to each other, and resolve our different expectations, there are going to be some upset and frustrated people after lunch. This is why I always warn my children before transitions, and try to tell them exactly what I expect when I tell them to do something.

This expectation business can also affect our relationship with God. If we expect God to answer our prayers or respond to a situation in a certain way, we will not be open to receiving God's sometimes creative answers. In effect, we're limiting God, by assuming that our solution to the problem is the only or best solution, and we're limiting ourselves by not giving God the freedom to take our lives in directions we never could imagine. If we're knocking at the door, expecting God to open this door, we won't be looking toward that door, or the other, that God is opening instead.

If you read my blog, you know that sometimes I feel isolated and lonely, having no family nearby, and few friends. When my husband and I had been married for 4 years we moved from Minnesota to West Virginia for his job. I was looking for a job when we discovered that we were expecting our first child, so I stopped looking. At first it was exciting, but then reality set in. Being a mommy is hard, and I didn't have anyone with whom to share the burden. I felt isolated, lonely, and sorry for myself, and I started to pray that God would send me a friend, and that God would lead us to live closer to family someday. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and slowly started forming friendships, but there was no word on the living close to family front.

Ironically, it was as we were on our way to visit family that realization struck. God hadn't ignored my prayer--he had just answered it in a completely unexpected way. You see, God showed me that I was already living close to family, because I am God's daughter, a part of God's family. And I realized that God wants us to rely on our sisters and brothers in Christ in the same way that we would rely on our biological families. I had been letting my expectations get in the way of my relationship with God. I thought God was letting me down, when in reality, God has always and will always continue to provide for all of my needs, even in seemingly impossible situations. I just have to let go of those expectations and be open to experiencing all that God has to offer.

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